gabriel Gabriel S. Dichter, PhD, Director
Research Statement: We are dedicated to the use of neuroscience methods to better understand
psychiatric disorders. Research methods include psychophysiology, functional MRI, eye-tracking,
and behavioral approaches. Our strategy is to first validate methods in non-clinical contexts, then
to apply paradigms in psychiatric conditions, and finally to test our measures as potential
biomarkers of treatment response.
Kinard-150x150 Jessica Kinard, Ph.D. CCC-SLP, Postdoctoral Fellow
Research Statement: I completed my PhD in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences at UNC
Chapel Hill under the mentorship of Dr. Linda Watson. During my graduate program, I studied
parent-mediated interventions for toddlers at-risk for autism, as well as for toddlers and
preschoolers from primarily Spanish-speaking families. My research in the CAN Lab focuses
on neural mechanisms of reward learning in children with autism in the context of uncertain
social and nonsocial rewards.
Erin_Walsh-260x300 Erin Walsh, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, UNC-Chapel Hill
Research Statement: My research focuses on exploring the mechanisms by which mindfulness-
based interventions alter neural, immune, and endocrine processes in persons with depression,
and how such changes affect cognitive and emotional vulnerabilities in depression. I am also
interested in examining how early life experiences predict treatment response in depression. I
received my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kentucky under mentorship of
Dr. Ruth Baer and completed a postdoctoral research position at the University of Wisconsin-
Madison under Dr. Heather Abercrombie.
Maya Mosner, Clinical Psychology Graduate Student
Research Statement: I am interested in developmental trajectories of reward processing in
typical development and in children with autism as well as neural mechanisms of reward-
based learning in autism.
Greene-150x150 Rachel Greene, Clinical Psychology Graduate Student
Research Statement: I am broadly interested in social motivation deficits in ASD, and am
working on a study of the acute effects of intransal oxytocin administration on the neural
mechanisms of social motivation in children with autism.
Alissa Hopper Alissa Hopper, Allied Health Sciences Graduate Student and LEND trainee
Research Statements: My work focuses on the speech and language differences in young adults with
autism, with a particular emphasis on social communication differences. I am also interested in
studying the disorder from a multidisciplinary perspective, and I hope to incorporate findings
from psychology, speech-language pathology, and neuroscience into my work with this population.
Dianna Padilla Dianna Padilla, MPH Graduate Student, Department of Maternal and Child Health, LEND Trainee
Research Statement: My research interests lie in early intervention programs for children with ASD and
other developmental disabilities. More broadly, I hope to better understand the neurobiological basis
for these disorders. I am also interested in working with individuals and their families to understand
their transitional experiences and accessibility to resources for underserved populations.

Shuting Shuting Zheng, Special Education Graduate Student
Research Statement: My research interest lies in early identification and intervention for children
with ASD. I am currently pursuing my PhD degree in Special Education at UNC and I want to
integrate lab research with education settings. In the CAN lab, my focus is to use eye tracking
to investigate reward prediction error in children with ASD. I also love to advocate for those
from culturally and linguistically diverse groups and incorporate my international background
with my research interests.
Miranda Sullivan Miranda Sullivan, UNC Undergraduate Research Assistant (UNC Class of 2018)
My research interests include the neurobiological bases of psychiatric disorders including autism and their treatments.
Jasmine Shah Jasmine Shah, UNC Undergraduate Research Assistant (UNC Class of 2017)
I am interested in understanding the effects of comorbid psychiatric conditions on cognitive and
social functioning in autism spectrum disorder, with a particular emphasis on comorbid major
depressive disorder.
Marcy McLamb Marcy McLamb, UNC work-study student (UNC class of 2016)
I am interested broadly in autism spectrum disorders research. My roles in the lab include data
coding, Qualtrics, survey design, and assistance working with families in our research studies.

Lab Alumni