People

Leadership 


Inna Fishman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Dept. of Psychology
Dr. Fishman is the founding Director of the Center.
Ralph-Axel Müller, Ph.D.
Professor, Dept. of Psychology
Dr. Müller has co-founded the Center with Dr. Fishman and is the Center Co-Director. A cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Müller has specialized in functional brain imaging of neurodevelopmental disorders and typical child development for 20 years. He is Director of the Brain Development Imaging Laboratories at SDSU, which studies children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders as well as typically developing children, using a wide array of brain imaging techniques, such as functional and functional connectivity MRI, anatomical MRI (volumetrics), diffusion tensor imaging and tractography, and MR spectroscopy (chemical shift imaging). Dr. Müller has received continuous R01 funding from NIH since 2001, with total funding exceeding $6M. Current autism projects include the study of brain network abnormalities using multimodal MRI, and the combined use of MRI and electrophysiological techniques (EEG, MEG) for dynamic studies of brain connectivity.
Faculty and Scientists


In keeping with the Center’s mission to unite diverse faculty across the SDSU campus whose work touches lives of the individuals with autism and developmental disabilities, and their families, educatorsemployers or policy makers, the Center’s affiliated faculty hail from several University’s colleges and programs:
Ruth Carper, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Dept. of Psychology

Dr. Ruth Carper is Associate Director of the Brain Development Imaging Laboratories (BDIL) at San Diego State University, and Associate Research Professor in the Department of Psychology. She received her doctorate in Neurosciences from the University of California at San Diego. Dr. Carper’s research focuses on the brain bases and long-term phenomenology of autism spectrum disorders. Through her ongoing collaborations within the BDIL her current work incorporates nearly the entire lifespan in ASD, from toddlerhood to aging. She uses structural MRI, Diffusion Weighted Imaging, and other MRI methods to study the neuroanatomy of autism, how brain structure changes throughout the lifespan, and how these structural differences help to explain differences in cognition and function. Her work with multi-shell diffusion imaging has suggested differences in neurite density within cortical gray matter in children and adolescents with ASD, and she plans to incorporate some of these methods in further studies of cortical anomalies in aSD. Dr. Carper also has a strong interest in how adults with autism fare as they age. She has been assessing 30 to 65 year olds with autism to study differences in brain structure and function using MRI, how measures associate with cognitive and behavioral abilities, daily living skills, physical health, and support needs. She hopes to identify factors that predict long-term success longitudinally.

Mikaela Kinnear, Ph.D
Dr. Kinnear is a psychologist with expertise in developmental disorders. She conducts clinical and diagnostic assessments for all of our research studies. She is often the friendly voice chatting with you on the phone during clinical pre-screens that we do on the phone. You also likely have met her during your 1st visit at the Center. Dr. Kinnear’s research focuses on social communication challenges shared by children and adults with neurodevelopmental disorders (including ADHD, autism spectrum, and others).
Rachel Haine-Schlagel, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Child and Family Development
Dr. Haine-Schlagel is a licensed psychologist and certified trainer for an evidence-based engagement intervention for child and family services. As Director of the SDSU Parents And Caregivers in Services (PACS) Lab, Dr. Haine-Schlagel’s research focuses on understanding and promoting family participation in child and family mental health services, and enhancing service effectiveness and implementation in community settings. She is also an investigator at the Child & Adolescent Services Research Center (CASRC), a consortium of over 100 investigators and staff from multiple academic institutions in Southern California conducting cutting edge research focused on improving health and developmental services for children and families. Please contact Dr. Haine-Schlagel for learning and research opportunities in her lab.
Jessica Suhrheinrich, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Special Education
Dr. Suhrheinrich is an Assistant Professor of Special Education. Her research aims to improve use of evidence-based practices for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) implemented in schools and school districts, and to enhance quality of and access to training for educators of children with ASDs. Her clinical experience includes developing and supervising home and school-based programs for children with ASDs and training therapists and parents to implement behavioral interventions. Dr. Suhrheinrich is a co-recipient of a $1.4 million grant from the Institute of Educational Science for research on education strategies for students with ASDs.

As an affiliate of the Center, Dr. Suhrheinrich’s vision includes cross-disciplinary collaboration with other Center faculty to maximize the innovation and impact of ASD-related research at SDSU, as well as collaboration with community partners to improve access to research participation and to enhance responce to community needs for information and clinical support. You can contact Dr. Suhrheinrich directly to discuss these opportunities with her.

Sarah Rieth, Ph.D, BCBA-D
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Child and Family Development
Dr. Rieth is a licensed clinical psychologist and specializes in training others and delivering intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), ages 12 months to 10 years, and their families. Her research focuses on the delivery of high-quality eaerly interventions in community settings. Dr. Rieth’s current work involves training community providers to deliver direct service and parent-mediated interventions, examining student outcomes from a randomized trial of school-based ASD intervention, and supporting joint attention development for infant siblings of children diagnosed with ASDs. Dr. Rieth’s work also focuses on enhancing quality of, and access to training for therapists supporting children with ASDs, including telehealth training tools and on-going support.

As an affiliate of the Center, Dr. Rieth’s vision includes improving our connections with community agencies to facilitate responsive research and participation, and developing training opportunities for clinical counseling and other mental health graduate students and trainees. You can contact Dr. Rieth for information on training opportunities in her lab.

Alyson Abel, Ph.D
Assistant Professor, SDSU School of Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences
Dr. Abel is a speech and language pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist. Her research incorporates behavioral and neurophysiological methods to understand how children with specific language impairment and typically developing children learn words and, particularly, verbs.

You can contact Dr. Abel for information on training opportunities in her lab.

Yasemin Turan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Special Education
Dr. Turan is an Assistant Professor of Special Education. Her research interests center on interventions that focus on the enhancement of language, social, and emotional development of young children with autism and other developmental disabilities, and the assessment of treatment acceptability. She also is interested in understanding international perspectives and approaches to educating children with developmental disabilities. Dr. Turan is also actively involved in the BCBA certificate program. She is a co-founder of Project SPOKES—Sustaining evidence-based Practices of preK-22 Education Specialists—a program aimed at identifying the needs of special education teachers. The focus of Project SPOKES is on investigating the needs of novice special educators in San Diego in order to identify strategies that might be most effective in meeting those needs. Dr. Turan is a Graduate Advisor and the Early Childhood Special Education (EC-SPED) Program Coordinator. You can contact Dr. Turan directly for training opportunities related to the EC-SPED program or Project SPOKES.
Administrative and Research Staff


Vinton Omaleki, MPH
Community Engagement Coordinator
Vinton Omaleki received his MPH in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science from San Diego State University. He specializes in community engagement in public health interventions and research.