Dr. Yusuf Akamoglu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education & Multiple Disabilities. He received his Ph.D. in early childhood special education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Dr. Akamoglu’s research and scholarship areas include parent-implemented language and communication interventions with young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), shared storybook reading interventions, and supporting children’s language development, communication skills, and acquisition of early literacy skills during naturalistic routines. His research examines developing and evaluating parent training and coaching programs to deliver effective parent-implemented language interventions, including online-based interventions and storybook reading interventions for parents of children with communication delays. He also is interested in how technology can play a role in delivering services to parents.
Dr. Angela B. Barber is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Communicative Disorders and a licensed Speech Language Pathologist. Dr. Barber received her Ph.D. in communication disorders from Florida State University. Her research interests focus on early family-centered social communication interventions for children at risk for ASD and improving accessibility to high quality interventions for families living in underserved and rural communities. She also measures effective learning contexts for students learning to work with individuals who are on the spectrum. Dr. Barber is actively involved with the Speech and Hearing Center (SHC). SHC provides a number of ASD intervention programs including Project ImPACT parent training program, the Toddler Autism Program, and social skills groups for teens with ASD.
Speech and Hearing Center: cd.ua.edu/speech-and-hearing-center/
Dr. Lucy Barnard-Brak is the Autism Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education & Multiple Abilities. She received her Ph.D. in educational psychology from Texas Tech University. Dr. Barnard-Brak's research focuses on measurement and assessment issues for individuals with ASD and examining the educational experiences and outcomes of individuals with disabilities. She currently enjoys refining the application of item response theory models and the comparison of ROC curves to data from special populations.
Dr. Caitlin Hudac is an Assistant Professor in Department of Psychology and is a core faculty member in the Center for Youth Development and Intervention (CYDI). She received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she trained as a developmental cognitive neuroscientist. Dr. Hudac’s research targets how the brain develops to support cognition, social cognition (e.g., face perception, mental state reasoning), and social motivation in ASD and neurodevelopmental disorders. In addition, we utilize a genetic-first approach to characterize the phenotype and underlying brain mechanisms for subgroups of children with ASD-associated genetic events (e.g., single-gene mutations, copy number variations). Her lab utilizes electroencephalography (EEG), event-related potentials (ERP), eye tracking, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to capture and track biological indicators of ASD (“biomarkers”) with the ultimate goal of developing targeted treatments.
Dr. Hudac’s lab: http://b-rad.ua.edu
Dr. Hudac’s personal website: http://cmhudac.people.ua.edu
Dr. Rajesh Kana is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Director of CIRA, as well as the Cognition, Brain, and Autism Lab. He received his Ph.D. in psycholinguistics from Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, India. As a William Fulbright Fellow, Dr. Kana learned neuroimaging from UCLA, followed by a postdoctoral training in using neuroimaging technique to study ASD at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. Dr. Kana’s interests focus on basic and translational research on the neurobiology of autism. He uses a variety of brain imaging techniques, such as functional MRI, structural MRI, diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) and MR Spectroscopy to understand the functional and anatomical organization of the brain in autism. Dr. Kana studies social cognition, language comprehension, executive functions, and the impact of behavioral interventions on the brain in children and adults with ASD.
Dr. Kana's lab: www.cbra.ua.edu
Dr. Evie Malaia is the Autism Associate Professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders and the Director of the Lab for Neuroscience of Dynamic Cognition. She received her Ph.D. in linguistics from Purdue University, where she trained as a computational linguist and neuroscientist. Dr. Malaia’s interests focus on communication: how is information transferred from one person to another? How do babies know what parameters of their environment to pay attention to in order to communicate with others? How does communication shape brain development from infancy to adulthood? How do children with ASD process the signals surrounding them? How can the differences in neural activity in ASD be harnessed to improve quality of life for those on the spectrum, and their communities? She uses interdisciplinary approaches, encompassing cognitive and social neuroscience, as well as computational modeling of the communicative signal and its processing by brain networks.
Dr. Malaia's lab: https://malaia.people.ua.edu
Dr. Robin McWilliam is a Professor in the Department of Special Education & Multiple Abilities. He received his Ph.D. in early childhood special education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. McWilliam’s work is in early intervention and early childhood special education, a field that includes all disability types. He has consulted on autism services studies in health services research, developed a classroom model promoting engagement in toddlers with or at risk for ASD, presented his Routines-Based Model to numerous agencies serving children with ASD, presented at international conferences on promoting engagement, and developed a family quality of life measure for families of young children with ASD. Dr. McWilliam is also the Director of the Evidence-Based International Early Intervention Office, which promotes family-centered, functional early intervention (birth - 5 years) through the Routines-Based Model.
Evidence-Based International Early Intervention Office: http://eieio.ua.edu
Dr. Laura Morett is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Neuroscience Initiative in the Department of Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology, and Counseling. She received her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in child psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center. Dr. Morett is the Director of the Neuroscience of Education on Research Development Lab. She researches the neural bases of social communication in individuals with ASD, with a particular focus on gesture-speech integration.
Dr. Morett's lab: http://nerdlab.ua.edu
Dr. Theodore Tomeny is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of the Research on Autism and Families Lab. He received his Ph.D. in clinical child psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi and completed a pre-doctoral internship at Indiana University School of Medicine in the autism emphasis. Dr. Tomeny's research explores the functioning of individuals with ASD and their families. He is also interested in better understanding factors related to quality of life for those with ASD, perceptions of ASD, long-term outcomes for adults with ASD and their families, and the unique challenges faced by low resource families. Psychopathology in children and adolescents, both with and without developmental disabilities, is another area of general interest of his research lab. Dr. Tomeny and his lab also work closely with The University of Alabama ASD Clinic and the UA-ACTS program.
Dr. Tomeny's lab: http://ttomeny.people.ua.edu/raf-lab.html
Dr. Laci Watkins is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education & Multiple Abilities and the Director of the Autism Certification Graduate Program. She received her Ph.D. in special education with a concentration in autism and developmental disabilities from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Watkins is a former special education teacher who has worked with students with ASD across grade levels. Her primary research interests include developing peer social interaction interventions for students with ASD in inclusive settings, examining how improved social skills can lead to gains in other areas such as academic engagement and classroom participation, and supporting practitioner implementation of evidence-based practices in authentic school settings. Dr. Watkins is also interested in meta-analyses of single-case design research.
Dr. Susan White is the Doddridge Franklin Saxon Endowed Chair in Psychology and the Director of the Center for Youth Development and Intervention (CYDI). She received her Ph.D. in educational psychology and learning systems from Florida State University. Dr. White specializes in developmental psychopathology, evidence-based diagnostic assessment of psychiatric comorbidity, and development of effective prevention and intervention programs to support individuals with special needs and maximize quality of life. Her primary area of focus is co-occurrence of anxiety and other problems of emotion regulation in ASD. She conducts research on the assessment and treatment of mental health problems and establishing evidence-based transition services for people with ASD. Dr. White also maintains a broad research interest in the identification of transdiagnostic processes underlying comorbidity, or co-occurrence of symptoms of different disorders.
Center for Youth Development and Intervention: cydi.ua.edu
Dr. Hyunjoo Yoo is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Communicative Disorders. She received her Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Memphis. Her primary research interests include investigating infant vocal development, caregiver-infant interaction, and early affect communication, which are foundations for speech and language development. Dr. Yoo has been pursuing two lines of research in the hope of finding how infants develop infrastructure of vocal interaction and how caregivers play a role in child language development: one line seeks mechanisms of caregiver-infant interaction (e.g., vocal turn-taking) and the other line pursues acoustic correlates that account for the link between perception and production of infant and caregiver speech in vocal interaction. This understanding will not only provide deeper insight on speech and language development and early intervention but also assist in prediction of communicative disorders such as autism.