Leonard Abbeduto, Ph.D.Principal Investigator

Dr. Abbeduto's research at the UC Davis MIND Institute focuses on the development of language across the lifespan in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. His current projects focus on the factors accounting for variation in the course of language in children, adolescents, and young adults with fragile X syndrome, autism, or Down syndrome. These projects seek to identify the behavioral, biological, and environmental influences that shape language in these conditions. Other projects focus on the development of methods to optimize language development through parent-mediated interventions and the role of telehealth technology in the delivery of these interventions. Dr. Abbeduto's research has been funded virtually continuously by the National Institutes of Health since 1984. He is the editor of the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, which is the flagship journal of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Abbeduto is also Director of the NIH-funded Interdisciplinary Training Conference on Developmental Disabilities, which is designed to foster an interdisciplinary approach to research on neurodevelopmental disorders in the next generation of scientists.

Anna Akulyan, B.S.

Anna Akulyan, B.S.

Research Staff

Anna Akulyan is a Junior Specialist for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She received her Bachelors of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology & Audiology and became a licensed Speech Language Pathologist Assistant (SLPA)  at California State University, Sacramento in 2013. She has worked with bilingual children since 2000 and is working on opening a small school for bilingual children with learning disabilities. Anna plans to pursue a Master’s degree in the field of Speech Language Pathology in the future.

 

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Heather Barnhart, B.S.

Heather Barnhart, B.S.Transcriber

Heather Barnhart is a transcriber for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. For the past 9 years, Heather worked for a company that provides in-home ABA services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology from California State University, Sacramento in 2013 and is currently working towards her Masters of Science degree.

 

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Jennisah Barth, B.S.

Jennisah Barth B.S.Transcriber

Jennisah Barth is a transcriber for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology from California State University, Sacramento in 2013. Jennisah is also a licensed Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA) and currently works for 3 non-public schools in Sacramento, CA. She plans to pursue her Masters degree in the field of Speech-Language Pathology in the future.

 

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Amy Banasik, M.S.

Amy Banasik, M.S.

Research Associate

Amy Banasik is a research associate in the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She completed her education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, a Bachelor of Arts degree in German, and a Master of Science degree in Speech and Language Pathology. 

 

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Lauren Bullard, B.A.

Lauren Bullard, B.A.Research Staff

Lauren Bullard is a Junior Specialist for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Lauren received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of New Mexico. In addition to assisting with recruitment and scheduling for our lab, Lauren also works as a behavior consultant for children with autism spectrum disorder. Lauren hopes to attend graduate school in Psychology or Human Development.

 

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Nancy Castignetti, M.Ed., M.S.

Nancy Castignetti, M.Ed., M.S., CF-SLPResearch Associate

Nancy Castignetti received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University Chicago, Master of Education degree from Marquette University, and Master of Science degree in Communicative Disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a Speech-Language Pathologist, her special interest lies in pediatric language disorders.  

 

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Alicia Cox, M.A., MFTI

Alicia Cox, M.A., MFTI

Program Coordinator

Alicia Cox is the Program Coordinator for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. As such, she interacts with families who are interested in participating in our research projects. Alicia received a Bachelor of Science degree in Genetics and Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of California, Davis. She received her Master of Art degree in Counseling Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy from Santa Clara University. Alicia has previously worked with the Social Skills Training Program at the MIND Institute, helping groups of children with social difficulties to learn new skills and techniques for peer interaction.

 

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Robyn Tempero Feigles, B.A.

Robyn Tempero Feigles, B.A.Research Associate 

Robyn Tempero Feigles received her Bachelor's degree in Human Development from UC Davis in 2006. She is currently pursuing a second Bachelor's degree in Communicative Disorders from Utah State University. Robyn has previously worked on the Early Steps Study delivering early intervention therapy to toddlers with autism and will now be working in the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders administering study assessments.

 

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Karina González

Karina GonzálezStudent Research Assistant 

Karina is a transcriber for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She is a senior at the University of California, Davis and is working towards her Bachelors of Science in Human Development with a minor in Linguistics. She plans to pursue a Masters degree in the field of Speech and Language Pathology in the future.

 

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Joan Gunther, Psy.D.

Joan Gunther, Psy.D.Clinical Psychologist

Joan Gunther is a licensed clinical psychologist.  Prior to her position at the MIND Institute, Dr. Gunther worked at River Oak Center for Children with children, adolescents, and adults experiencing a variety of psychological disorders and severe living problems.  Her work with individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, their families, and school staff spans over 20 years.  Dr. Gunther majored in Family Systems at the University of Minnesota before moving to San Jose, California where she received her B.A. in Psychology at San Jose State University with an emphasis in Speech and Language Disorders.  She received her M.A. and doctorate degree from California School of Professional Psychology.

 

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Cesar Hoyos, B.A.

Cesar Hoyos, B.A.

Research Staff

Cesar Hoyos is a transcriber for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders and a research assistant for Dr. Angela Thurman’s project, Mechanisms Underlying Word Learning in Fragile X Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics and Spanish at the University of California, Davis. He has spent many years tutoring Spanish and ESL at Santa Rosa Community College and UC Davis. Cesar has a strong interest in language development, bilingualism, and in helping others learn language.

 

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Angela John Thurman, Ph.D.

Angela John, Ph.D.Postdoctoral Scholar

Angela John is a postdoctoral scholar who investigates cognitive, language, social-emotional, and behavioral development in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. She received her Master’s and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Louisville, and her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at Denver.

 

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Cynde Katherine Josol, B.S.

Cynde Katherine Josol, B.S.Research Staff

Cynde Katherine Josol is a transcriber for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development from the University of California, Davis in 2013. She has interned at the UC Davis Center for Child and Family Studies as a behavioral coder for 2 years. She also interned as a research assistant for the ADHD Lab and Clinic at the MIND Institute. She is currently volunteering as a research assistant for the Infant Sibling Study at the MIND Institute and also works as a paraprofessional providing one-on-one behavioral therapy for children diagnosed with autism. Cynde plans to earn her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology.

 

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Amanda Kwiatkowski, B.A.

Amanda Kwiatkowski, B.A.Research Associate

Amanda is the lead transcriber and head of transcriber training for both the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders and the Intellectual and Developmental Disability Research Center (IDDRC). She also works as a speech and language clinician on IDDRC language intervention project.  Amanda received her B.A. from Cal Poly, San Luis Obsipo in Modern Languages and Literatures and her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from California State University, Sacramento. 

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Angelica Manzo, B.A.

Angelica Manzo, B.A.Transcriber

Angelica is a transcriber for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Child Development with a minor in Counseling from California State University, Sacramento in 2012. Angelica continued her education as a conditional graduate student in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology from California State University, Sacramento.

 

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Andrea McDuffie, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Andrea McDuffie, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Senior Speech Language Pathologist - Supervisor

Andrea McDuffie is a licensed speech/language pathologist and the Research Director for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. After working in the public schools as a clinician and early childhood special educator for many years, Dr. McDuffie returned to graduate school and received a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 2004. She then completed a postdoctoral traineeship in developmental disabilities research at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin – Madison, where Dr. Abbeduto was her postdoctoral mentor. Dr. McDuffie’s research interests include word learning and language development in fragile X syndrome and autism, parent-mediated language intervention approaches, and the characterization of autism symptoms in fragile X syndrome.

 

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Sarah Nelson, M.S.

Sarah Nelson, M.S.

Research Associate

Sarah Nelson is a research associate in the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders.  Sarah received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012, where she also completed her Master of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, Speech and Language Pathology, in 2014.  She is beginning to work towards a PhD in Human Development at UC Davis beginning in the fall of 2015.  Her research interests include language and cognitive development in early childhood populations with neurodevelopmental disorders, pharmaceutical interventions for children with Down syndrome and fragile X syndrome and their impact when implemented in tandem with behavioral interventions, and the efficacy of parent-mediated language intervention.

 

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Michelle O'Neill, B.S.

Michelle O'Neill, B.S.Research Staff

Michelle O'Neill is a Junior Specialist for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, assisting in recruitment and scheduling. Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Speech-language Pathology from California State University at Sacramento, and is currently in her second year of graduate school at Sacramento State. In addition to school and her position at the MIND Institute, Michelle has been a professional vocalist and vocal coach for the past 15 years.

 

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Jazmin Sheppard B.A.

Jazmin Sheppard B.A.

Research Staff

Jazmin is a second examiner and transcriber for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She assists families during visits and provides support during standardized testing and expressive language sampling with participants in the lab's research studies. She is from the Sacramento area and completed her education at the University of California, Davis where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Psychology in 2013. She has volunteered at the UC Davis MIND Institute as a research assistant for Dr. Schweitzer’s MINT Study and Dr. Ozonoff’s Infant Sibling Study. Jazmin also worked as an in-home behavior technician where she provided ABA therapy for families with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Jazmin is working towards a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology. 

 

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Evann Vieira, B.S.

Evann Vieira

Transcriber

Evann Vieira is a Transcriber and Coder for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She received her Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology and Audiology at California State University, Sacramento, and is currently working towards completing her Master of Art degree in Special Education.

 

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Alyssa Wang, B.A.

Alyssa WangStudent Research Assistant

Alyssa is a student assistant for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She is a second year at University of California, Davis. She is currently working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, with a double minor in Computer Science and Music. She hopes to graduate in Spring 2017 and continue her education in graduate school.

 

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Caitlyn Wong, B.S.

Caitlyn Wong, B.S.Transcriber

Caitlyn Wong is a transcriber for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She received her Bachelors of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology & Audiology from California State University, Sacramento in 2013. Caitlyn is also a licensed Speech Language Pathologist Assistant (SLPA) and completed her training at California State University, Sacramento in 2013. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in the field of Speech Language Pathology at California State University, Sacramento.

 

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