Inna Fishman, Ph.D.
Associate Research Professor
Department of Psychology
Dr. Fishman, a clinical neuropsychologist with background and expertise in social / developmental neuroscience, is Associate Director of the Brain Development Imaging Labs (BDIL) and Director of the SCANgroup, part of the BDIL research cluster focusing on early child development. She is the founding Director of the SDSU Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders, which brings together autism scientists from a variety of disciplines and fields across the SDSU campus. Dr. Fishman uses neuroimaging (e.g., EEG and MRI) and behavioral and neuropsychological methods to understand brain mechanisms and circuits underlying human social behavior, including social impairments such as those associated with autism. Her work on brain development in children with autism spectrum disorders has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, Autism Science Foundation and Autism Speaks.

Please contact Dr. Fishman for information on training opportunities in SCANgroup or at the Center.

Jessica Suhrheinrich, Ph.D.
Associate Professor,
Department of Special Education
Research Scientist,
Child and Adolescent Services Research Center
A member of the Center Executive Committee, Dr. Suhrheinrich is a psychologist with expertise in developing and supervising home and school-based programs for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and in training therapists and parents to implement behavioral interventions. Her research aims at improving community-based services for children with ASD. Dr. Suhrheinrich’s current work integrates implementation science and school-based services for students with autism, including a project investigating current implementation practices within school districts in order to adapt a leadership for organizational change (LOCI) intervention for mid-level leaders in special education; and a project examining multi-level system factors related to outcomes for evidence-based practices for ASD in school settings across the state of California in partnership with the California Autism Professional Training and Information Network (CAPTAIN). Her work has been funded through the Institute of Educational Sciences and NIMH.

Please contact Dr. Suhrheinrich to discuss training opportunities with her.

Laura Hall, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Professor and Chair
Department of Special Education
A member of the Center Executive Committee, Dr. Hall is an internationally recognized leader in educational psychology. As Chair of the Department of Special Education, Dr. Hall’s current focus is on training special educators to work with learners with disabilities. Her current research focus is on identifying strategies to improve the educator-learner interaction to increase effective implementation of evidence-based practices. Her Autism Spectrum Disorders: From Theory to Practice text, now in its 3rd edition, has helped educators implement the best evidence-based practices for teaching students with autism spectrum disorders, from preschool through school-age and transition stages. Dr. Hall has established the SDSU Masters degree in Special Education Program with Specialization in Autism, which has been continuously supported by federal grants from the Office of Special Education Programs.

You can contact Dr. Hall directly about training opportunities in her department.

Ralph-Axel Müller, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
Dr. Müller has co-founded the Center with Dr. Fishman. A cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Müller has specialized in functional brain imaging of neurodevelopmental disorders, and autism in particular, for 20 years. He is Director of the SDSU Brain Development Imaging Laboratories, a research cluster investigating brain markers of autism spectrum disorders using a wide array of brain imaging techniques, such as functional and functional connectivity MRI, anatomical MRI, diffusion tensor imaging and MR spectroscopy. Dr. Müller has received continuous R01 funding from NIH since 2001. Current autism projects include studies of brain network abnormalities using multimodal MRI, across the lifespan.

Please contact Dr. Müller for information on training opportunities.

Vinton Omaleki, M.P.H.
Community Engagement Director
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. Mr. Omaleki is particularly interested in identifying and understanding the social, economic, political, and environmental determinants of health in diverse communities. As the Center Community Engagement Director, Mr. Omaleki’s focus is on developing and maintaining partnerships with community organizations and agencies.

You can contact Mr. Omaleki about the Center’s broad community engagement and outreach efforts.

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, departments and disciplines:
Alyson Abel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
School of Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences
Dr. Abel is a speech-language pathologist with expertise in child language. She directs the SDSU Language Learning Lab. Her research focuses on brain mechanisms underlying child language disorders and effects of poverty on brain mechanisms supporting language processing. Dr. Abel’s research incorporates behavioral and elecrophysiological (EEG) methods to examine how children learn words, and verbs in particular. Her studies aim at understanding what influences the language difficulties in children with language impairments in order to inform clinical practices with these children.

Please contact Dr. Abel for information on training opportunities.

Bonnie R. Kraemer, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Associate Professor
Department Special Education
Dr. Kraemer’s teaching and research focus on severe intellectual disabilities and autism, with a specific focus on families, transition to adulthood, quality of life, and applied behavior analysis. Dr. Kraemer has been the Project Director or Co-Project Director on OSEP-funded Personnel Preparation grants focusing on preparing teachers and master’s degree candidates in the areas of autism and secondary transition. Currently, she directs an OSEP-funded BEAMS that cross-trains Special Education and School Psychology trainees with a focus on behavior and mental health. Dr. Kraemer is also the Site Co-PI on a multi-site study (funded through the Institute of Education Sciences, or IES) of a comprehensive educational program for high school students with ASD (CSESA). With a sample size of over 500 youth and young adults with ASD, their families, and school teams, this is the largest national intervention study examining evidence based practices for high school and transition age students with autism.

Please contact Dr. Kraemer for learning and research opportunities.

Mary Baker-Ericzén, Ph,D.
Research Professor,
ARPE Interwork Institute

Operations Director and Research Scientist,
Child and Adolescent Services Research Center
Dr. Mary Baker-Ericzén is a Research Professor at the SDSU Department of Administration, Rehabilitation, and Post-Secondary Education (ARPE) Interwork Institute. Dr. Baker-Ericzén is also the Director and Clinical Psychologist at the Intricate Mind Institute, a community mental health clinic in San Diego specializing in ASD, ADHD, Tourette’s, and co-occurring mental health conditions. Dr. Baker-Ericzén is the founder and leader of the adult ASD research-community partnership called ACHIEVE group (Active Collaborative Hub for Individuals with ASD to Enhance Vocation and Education outcomes) and the developer of multiple evidence-based interventions (SUCCESS: Supported employment, Comprehensive Cognitive Enhancement and Social Skills, a vocational soft skills training program; College SUCCESS educational soft skills course; TAY SUCCESS program for teens and transition age youth; Cognitive Behavior Intervention for Driving [CBID] to reduce driving anxiety and enhance executive functioning skills for driving; and Command and Control Cognitive Training an executive functioning skills program for middle to high schoolers).

Please contact Dr. Baker-Ericzén for learning and research opportunities.

Teresa Girolamo, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School of Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences

Dr. Girolamo is the Director of the Brain, Environment, and Language Lab (BELL) in the SDSU School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences (SLHS). Dr. Girolamo conducts research in language development and disorders in culturally and linguistically diverse populations, with a focus on language in autism. She studies language in autism at the levels of behavior and the brain (using functional near-infrared spectroscopy), investigating how individual differences together with environmental factors shape developmental outcomes. Dr. Girolamo uses community-based participatory approaches, with the long-term goal of translating knowledge into community-based, person-centerd supports. Her work has been funded by the American Speech-Language-Hearing-Foundation.  

Please contact Dr. Girolamo for learning and research opportunities.

Katina M. Lambros, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Associate Professor
Director, School Psychology Program
Dept. of Counseling and School Psychology
Dr. Lambros is the Director of the School Psychology Program in the SDSU Department of Counseling and School Psychology (CSP). As a School Psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Dr. Lambros specializes in ecobehavioral assessment and intervention for academic and socio-emotional problems in school-age children. Dr. Lambros co-directs Project BEAMS, a 5-year grant funded by the Office of Special Education (OSEP), focusing on co-training school psychologists and special educators to serve diverse students with behavioral, emotional, and mental health challenges in California’s public schools. Dr. Lambros’ research focuses on three broad areas: (1) improving mental health services and positive behavioral support in schools with an emphasis on students with emotional and behavioral difficulties; (2) promoting the use of evidence-based practices and data-based decision making in schools; and (3) increasing access to school-based service use and culturally responsive services for diverse learners.

Please contact Dr. Lambros for learning and research opportunities.

Kelsey S. Dickson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor,
Department of Child and Family Development
Research Scientist,
Child and Adolescent Services Research Center
Dr. Dickson is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in services and implementation research aiming to develop, test, and implement evidence-based interventions (EBIs) for youth with neurodevelopmental and mental health conditions in community service settings. Her work also focuses on examining mechanisms such as executive functioning (EF) impacting the etiology and effective treatment of such conditions. She has received an NIMH Career Development Award applying implementation science methodologies to adapt and test an EF EBI for youth with autism served in community mental health settings. Dr. Dickson’s clinical expertise is in delivering evidenced-based services for youth presenting with a variety of behavioral health conditions in community settings.

Please contact Dr. Dickson for learning and research opportunities.

Paul Luelmo, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Special Education
Dr. Luelmo is an education specialist with expertise in the effects of parental involvement and advocacy in the education of minority children with autism and other developmental disabilities in urban public schools. Dr. Luelmo’s research focuses on parent-centered autism interventions and parent advocacy in special education. His current research project involves a parent-to-parent advocacy intervention employing community-partnered participatory research in a low-resourced racial and ethnic minority setting.

Please contact Dr. Luelmo for information on training opportunities.

Rachel Haine-Schlagel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor,
Dept. of Child and Family Development
Research Scientist,
Child and Adolescent Services Research Center
Dr. Haine-Schlagel is a licensed clinical psychologist and director of the SDSU Parents And Caregivers in Services (PACS) Lab. Dr. Haine-Schlagel’s research focus is on understanding and promoting parent and caregiver participation in child mental health and early intervention services. She is the developer of the Parent And Caregiver Active Participation Toolkit (PACT), which is designed to promote parent participation in publicly-funded child mental health services and has been adapted for several settings including a parent coaching early intervention program for children at risk for autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Haine-Schlagel’s research program also focuses more broadly on improving the quality and effectiveness of child mental health and early intervention services in community settings. Dr. Haine-Schlagel has received NIMH, foundation, and local government funding to support her work.

Please contact Dr. Haine-Schlagel for learning and research opportunities.

Ruth Carper, Ph.D.
Associate Research Professor
Department of Psychology
Dr. Carper is Associate Director of the Brain Development Imaging Laboratories (BDIL) at San Diego State University. Dr. Carper’s research focuses on the brain bases and long-term phenomenology of autism spectrum disorders. 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. Dr. Carper also has a strong interest in how adults with autism fare as they age. She leads a study examining changes in brain structure and function in mature adults with ASD, using MRI, measures of cognitive and behavioral abilities, daily living skills, and physical health.

Please contact Dr. Carper for information on training opportunities in her lab.

Sarah Rieth, Ph.D, BCBA-D
Associate Professor
Dept. of Child and Family Development
Dr. Rieth is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in naturalistic, developmental behavioral interventions for autism. Her research focuses on the delivery of high-quality interventions in community settings, including provider training and support. Dr. Rieth’s current work involves preparing community interventionists to effectively deliver parent-mediated approaches, and exploring the effectiveness of distance training and supervision tools for interventionists in remote areas. She is a co-leader of the BRIDGE Collaborative, a community academic partnership of providers, funding agency representatives, parents of children with ASD and researchers who are dedicated to supporting early intervention for families of children with autism in the community. Dr. Rieth’s vision for our Center includes improving our connections with community agencies to facilitate responsive research and training, and equipping a quality workforce to address the needs of children with autism and their families.

Please contact Dr. Rieth for information on training opportunities.

Sonja Pruitt-Lord, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
School of Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs,
SDSU College of Health and Human Services
Dr. Pruitt-Lord is a speech-language pathologist with expertise in child language development. Her research focuses on language development in the context of linguistic diversity and poverty; the development of prevention models for at-risk populations; and the role of language research in shaping public policy. Her work aims at improving methods of assessment for children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, to prevent misdiagnosis of language disorders and reduce health and educational disparities. Dr. Pruitt-Lord and students working in her lab aim to equip families, students, educators, community agencies, and policy makers with the tools needed to facilitate children’s language and cognitive development. Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs, and local community agencies.

Please contact Dr. Pruitt-Lord for information on training opportunities.

Yasemin Turan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Special Education
Dr. Turan’s 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 to educating children with developmental disabilities. Dr. Turan is actively involved in the SDSU BCBA certification 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, especially of novice special educators, and developing strategies that might be most effective in meeting those needs. Dr. Turan is the Early Childhood Special Education (EC-SPED) Program Coordinator.

Please contact Dr. Turan directly for training opportunities related to the EC-SPED program or Project SPOKES.

Administrative Staff

Emily Escobar
Website and Social Media Coordinator
Emily Escobar is a fourth year Media Studies major and Spanish minor. As the Web and Social Media Coordinator, Emily is assisting the Center to scale up its online presence through building and updating the Center’s website, researching best practices for social media management and promoting the Center’s many events through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 
Sara Shoar

Health Communication and Social Media Intern, SDSU Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders
Sara Shoar is a third year Public Health major and a Marketing and Interdisciplinary Studies minor. As the Health Communication and Social Media Intern, Sara is assisting the Center in developing and implementing a robust communication strategy by focusing on outreach, equity, and inclusivity. In addition to social media management, she is also conducting market research and segmentation to improve engagement within the San Diego autism community.