Research Team

Primary Investigator

Natalie Russo, Ph.D.

Dr. Natalie Russo is interested in the manner in which typically developing children and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) process and integrate sensory information from one or more sensory modalities. Dr. Russo’s research interests focus on understanding of neurophysiology of sensory processing and multisensory integration among persons with ASD. She explores these research questions through the use of behavioral and electrophysiological measurements within the context of developmental psychopathology, using strength based approach to data interpretation and research design.

Dr. Russo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Syracuse University, and affiliated faculty in Neuroscience.  She completed her graduate degree at McGill University in School psychology/applied Development; her predoctoral clinical internship at the TEACCH Center for Autism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Medical School (APA accredited). She was an ‘Autism Research Training’ postdoctoral trainee through Montreal Children’s Hospital, and completed her postdoctoral training at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Dr. Russo fully supports the School Psychology Unified Anti-Racism Statement and Call to Action.

Her CV can be found here and a compilation of articles relevant to our research can be found here.

Graduate Students

Ellie Kaplan-Kahn, Ph.D.

Bucks County, PA

Ellie is a fifth-year graduate student in the School Psychology program at SU. She completed her undergraduate degree in Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins University and has previously worked in developmental psychology labs at at JHU, Harvard, and UC Berkeley. Her research interests include ways in which differences in lower-level perceptual processing in autism impact subsequent cognitive mechanisms. Ellie is completing her pre-doctoral internship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on the Autism Track.

Emily Cary, M.Sc.

Queens, NY

Emily is a fifth-year doctoral student in the School Psychology program at SU. She graduated with departmental honors from the College of Wooster with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Art. She previously worked at CARD as a senior therapist for children with autism and worked at the UW medical center investigating mindfulness interventions for mental health outcomes. Her research interests include applying mindfulness interventions to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, investigating the benefits of mindfulness using electrophysiology measures, and investigating sensory features of Autism Spectrum Disorders. When not in the lab, Emily can be found climbing, biking, paddle boarding, skiing, traveling, and cooking.

Alyne Rodrigues, M.Sc.

Waterford, CT

Alyne is a doctoral candidate in the Clinical Psychology program at Syracuse University. Her research focuses on examining the overlap in the symptomatology and presentation between adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and adults with Borderline Personality Disorder. On her days off, Alyne enjoys spending time with her cats Penelope and Sofia, and her dog Sebastian.

Ellie Masters, M.Sc

Buffalo, NY

Ellie is a fourth-year graduate student in the School Psychology program at SU. She got her Bachelor’s in Psychology with a concentration in Behavioural Neuroscience at Fairfield University.  She is most interested in examining sensory processing patterns in Autism and how symptoms of ADHD and Anxiety impact sensory behaviours seen in Autism across development.  In her free time, Ellie enjoys travelling, hiking, running and playing with her pup, Maisy!

Erin Matsuba, B.A. & Sc.

Toronto, Canada

Erin is a third-year doctoral student in the School Psychology program at SU.  She received her Bachelor’s in First Class Honours Cognitive Science with a minor in Psychology at McGill University.  Her research interests include neuroimaging and its applications for aiding in the diagnosis of autism. In her free time, Erin enjoys trying new recipes and watching Netflix.

Connor Mackenzie, B.A

Rochester, NY

Connor is a second-year graduate student in the School Psychology program at SU. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with departmental honors from Otterbein University. Connor’s interests stem from his previous experiences as a research assistant at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and his work with Suicide Prevention Services in Columbus, Ohio. His research interests include the relationship between screen time and social anxiety in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and ADHD. In his free time, Connor enjoys fishing, traveling, biking, and playing chess.

Jarryd Osborne, B.Sc.

Kingston, Canada

Jarryd is a first-year graduate student in the School Psychology program at SU. He got his Bachelor’s in Neuroscience with a concentration in Cognitive Science at Princeton University. He is interested in understanding how autistic individuals perceive social situations through both a psychological and neurological lens. Outside of school, Jarryd likes playing a variety of sports, playing board games, and watching an endless amount of television.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Aparajita Rao

Hershey, PA

Aparajita is a third-year student pursuing a BS in psychology with a minor in physics and completing an honors thesis with the lab. Their research interests include culture-sensitive approaches to autism treatment, comorbidities, and developmental trajectories of autism spectrum disorder. They are also an autistic self-advocate who hopes to pursue further study to continue research and eventually work with autistic children and adolescents. In their free time, they enjoy bike rides, producing edutainment, painting, and dancing for SU/ESF’s ballroom club and competitive team.  

Valkyrie Hardy

Valkyrie is a senior in Arts and Science pursuing her BS in psychology and neuroscience. She is also an honor’s student completing her thesis within the CARE Lab. Her research investigates the neurophysiological differences in children with traits of autism using electroencephalography (EEG). Outside of the lab, Valkyrie enjoys biking, dancing, and cooking.

Yvonne Chen-Yih Kuo

Fremont, CA // Hsinchu, Taiwan

Yvonne is a first-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences at SU pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Forensic Science. Her research interests include the sensory processing patterns in Autism Spectrum Disorders and ADHD and its relationship across development and behavior as well as its possible applications to the legal system. In her free time, Yvonne enjoys hiking, traveling, watching Netflix, and cafe/restaurant hunting. 

Samantha Scemla

Miami, Florida 

Samantha is a undergraduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. She is currently earning her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with minors in Sociology and Human Development & Family Science. Her research interests include investigating the neurophysiology of sensory processing among persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and investigating alternative therapeutic techniques for individuals who suffer from anxiety and depression. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, meditating, practicing yoga, baking, and being surrounded by her friends and family.

Leah Hamdoun

Beirut, Lebanon

Leah is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences at SU pursuing her bachelor’s degree in both neuroscience and psychology. She’s also pursuing a minor in cognitive science. She’s interested in a career in neuropsychology and looks forward to helping patients. In her free time, Leah loves traveling, writing articles and being the merchandising director for University Girl, a magazine created by Syracuse University students.

Catherine Deng

Beijing, China

Catherine is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences at SU pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She’s interested in clinical psychology and research regarding how autistic individuals perceive the world. Additionally, she is passionate about breaking down stereotypes regarding autism. Catherine loves traveling, listening to music, watching Netflix, and trying new things in her free time.

Makaela Molly

Emily Hartman

CARE Lab Alumni

Ellie Kaplan-Kahn, Ph.D.
Nicole Shea, Ph.D. 

Dr. Nicole Shea is a Clinical Assistant Professor for the Department of Pediatrics at University of Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences where she is a psychologist for the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Center of Western New York.  In addition to providing clinical care, she is involved in research including a randomized control trial of a CF specific Cognitive Behavioral Therapy intervention for adults with CF and is a principal investigator on a grant looking at the impact of highly effective modulator therapy on mental health in CF.  In addition to her role at UB, Dr. Shea also provides services in a private practice. 

Carl Hagmann, Ph.D.

Dr. Carl Hagmann is currently working at Terakeet building data-driven SEO and reputation management software using Python, R and Ruby.   He is focusing on natural language processing (NLP), which is a hot topic in Artificial Intelligence (AI).  Carl and his wife have a three year old son who enjoys learning about gears and machines.  

Elizabeth McKernan, Ph.D. 

Dr. Elizabeth McKernan graduated from Syracuse University in 2020 with a Ph.D. in School Psychology. Dr. McKernan is currently a postdoctoral research fellow working with Dr. So Hyun (“Sophy”) Kim at the ASD & Developmental Science Lab at the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB) at Weill Cornell Medicine. Currently, Dr. McKernan contributes to research examining early behavioral features and trajectories of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She is also involved in an EEG/ERP study examining neural correlates of executive function and school readiness in children with ASD.

Justin Kopec, Ph.D.

Dr, Justin Kopec is currently completing a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh within the Behavioral Science Division. Justin’s primarily role is to conduct autism evaluations and to help families connect with the appropriate services for their child. He also spends time implementing Parent Child Interaction Therapy and behavioral interventions for sleep disorders, as well as providing brief assessment and intervention services to children and their families in the inpatient rehabilitation unit. Justin hopes to continue serving families and children in an academic medical setting as he advances in his career. Although Justin is currently focusing on clinical work, he has published research on topics including visual perception in autism, music preferences and interventions in autism, and affective science: 

  • Alyssa Prawl ’16 G’20 , MSW
  • Margie Garber, ’20 – Ph.D. in Neuroscience at McGill University
  • Alyssa Viggiano, ’20 – Research Assistant at ASD & Developmental Science Lab at Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Aubrey Lipp, ’20
  • Catherine Anderson, ’20
  • Dylon Goris, ’20
  • Julia Stone, ’20
  • Julie Doherty, ’20
  • Andrew Seddon, ’17
  • Edna Ramirez, ’17
  • Morgan Anderson, ’17
  • Tamara Abu-Ramadan, ’17
  • Elyse Davis, ’16
  • Brandon Carlos, ’16
  • Kayleigh Brennan, ’16
  • Magenta Silberman, ’16 – School Psychology Ph.D. at the University of Utah
  • Blake Slater, ’16
  • Conner Black, ’15 – Ph.D. at UCSD
  • Emily Payne, ’15 – Masters in Public Health at John’s Hopkins
  • Janelle LeMon, ’15
  • Alicia Rego, ’15
  • Allyson Tiriolo
  • Casey Bell
  • Cholette Fiore
  • Elizabeth Bryant
  • Megan LeBlanc, B.S. – Medical School at Tulane University
  • Emma Smith
  • Joeann Salvati – Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Northwestern
  • Kelsey Montondo
  • Samar Al-Any
  • Shealyn O’Halloran
  • Stephanie Velazquez-Lopez
  • Ying Wu- Ph.D. in School Psychology Fordham