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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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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Meredith Benning

Meredith BenningTranscriber

Meredith Benning is a transcriber for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) in 2015. She is currently pursuing her Master degree in the field of Speech and Language Pathology at CSUS.

 

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Lauren Bullard, B.A.

Lauren Bullard, B.A.Research Staff

Lauren Bullard is a graduate student researcher for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Her research interests include early language development, parent-child interactions, and the well-being of families of children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Lauren received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of New Mexico. She is currently a Ph.D. student in Human Development at the University of California, Davis.

 

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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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Emma Cooper

Emma Cooper

Research Assistant

Emma Cooper is a research assistant for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. In this position, Emma interacts with families who are interested in participating in research and is involved in testing, recruitment, and scheduling. Emma received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of California, Davis in June of 2015. Emma plans to attend medical school in the future.

 

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Chantal De Leon

Chantal De Leon Transcriber

Chantal De Leon is a transcriber for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics with a minor in French from the University of California, Davis in 2016.

 

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Allison Echeveria

Allison EcheveriaTranscriber

Allison Echeveria is a transcriber for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She received her Bachelor's degree in Linguistics and Psychology with a minor in Applied Developmental Psychology from UCLA in June 2015, where she completed her undergraduate capstone project on infant language acquisition. Currently, Allison is working toward her second Bachelor of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and license for Speech Language Pathologist Assistant (SLPA) from Sacramento State University. She is interested in medical speech pathology, and intends to pursue a Masters of Science in the field.

 

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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 González is a research assistant for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Karina assists in recruitment and scheduling as well as data entry tasks. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development with a minor in Linguistics from the University of California, Davis in 2015. Karina plans to pursue her Master’s degree in the field of Speech-Language Pathology in the future.

 

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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.Assistant Professional Researcher

Angela John Thurman, PhD, is a developmental psychologist who received her doctorate from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Louisville. Her research focuses on the development of language and other aspects of behavior in children with fragile X syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disorders. More specifically, her research describes the developmental trajectories of neurodevelopmental disorders and the factors affecting those trajectories, cross-syndrome differences in language development and impairments, the occurrence and moderating roles of comorbid mental health conditions in language and behavioral development, and methods for measuring language and behavior in these populations. She has worked extensively with individuals with fragile X syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, and Williams syndrome.

 

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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 and a primary examiner for Dr. Angela Thurman’s Mechanisms Underlying Word Learning Study. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development from the University of California, Davis in 2013. She also interned for two years as a research assistant for Dr. Julie Schweitzer’s ADHD Lab and for Dr. Sally Ozonoff’s Infant Sibling Study at the MIND Institute. She has worked as a paraprofessional providing one-on-one ABA therapy for children diagnosed with autism as well. Cynde plans to earn her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology or Developmental Psychology.

 

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Leona Kelly

Leona KellyResearch Assistant 

Leona Kelly is a research assistant for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She graduated from UC Davis in June of 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology, Human Development, and Anthropology. Leona plans to earn her Master’s Degree in Family Therapy.

 

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Melissa Kinney

Melissa KinneyTranscriber

Melissa Kinney is a transcriber for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics and Spanish from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2013 and is currently pursuing her second Bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from California State University, Sacramento. After completing her studies at CSUS, she plans to pursue her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology.

 

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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

Research Associate

Sarah Nelson is a graduate student researcher 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 in 2014. She is currently working toward a PhD in Human Development at the University of California-Davis.

 

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Vivian Nguyen

Vivian Nguyen

Clinical Specialist

Vivian Nguyen is a Clinical Specialist for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders and the Autism Phenome Project at the MIND Institute. For the past 10 years, Vivian has worked with children with ASD and other developmental disorders in the schools, homes, and community settings. She received her Masters of Arts degree in Educational Psychology at California State University, Long Beach and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

 

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Jazmin Sheppard B.A.

Jazmin Sheppard B.A.

Research Staff

Jazmin Sheppard is a research assistant for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. In this position, she interacts with families during research visits and provides support during assessments and expressive language sampling. She also manages data for multi-site studies and transcribes language samples for various projects. In 2013, she completed her education at the University of California, Davis where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Psychology. Jazmin is currently working towards a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology.

 

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Stephanie Summers

Stephanie Summers

Research Assistant

Stephanie Summers is a research assistant for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. In this position, Stephanie is involved testing and data management, primarily for the longitudinal project on language development in fragile X syndrome. Stephanie received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Mills College in 2011 and is currently a Graduate Student Clinician pursuing a Master of Science in Speech Pathology at California State University, Sacramento.

 

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Kyle Vang

Kyle Vang

Research Assistant

Kyle Vang is a research assistant for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology & Audiology from California State University, Sacramento in 2015. Kyle is currently pursuing his Master of Science degree in the field of Speech Language Pathology at California State University, Sacramento.

 

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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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