Graduate Student Research

Our autism center is staffed by graduate students in the Clinical, Counseling, School Psychology (CCSP) and Education programs.  While a large portion of their research and clinical work is focused on autism, they have other coursework and program requirements that they are required to complete.  You can find more information on the web about the Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology Program and Education Program.

Dr. Robert Koegel is a professor in both departments and accepts graduate school applicants of both programs.

Dr. Ty Vernon is an assistant professor in the Department of CCSP and accepts graduate school applicants of the CCSP program

Please feel free to contact a current graduate student if you are interested in their area of research.

Current Graduate Students

Jessica Bradshaw, M.A.

On Internship
Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology

Email: jbradshaw@education.ucsb.edu
Office: Koegel Autism Center 1115

My research interests are primarily translational in nature, focused on early detection, prevention, and intervention models for autism spectrum disorder. My graduate research projects have investigated prelinguistic symptoms of ASD in infants 6-12 months of age. Specifically, my dissertation focuses on clinical correlates of two proposed early markers of ASD, social smiling and social attention, in 6-9 month old infants. I have also worked to adapt the intervention strategies of Pivotal Response Treatment for infants and toddlers under 18 months of age. Finally, I am interested in investigating novel outcome measures, such as eye tracking, to evaluate effectiveness of early intervention. 

Publications:

  1. Koegel, L., Koegel, R., Ashbaugh, K., Bradshaw, J. (2014). The Importance of Early Identification and Intervention for Children with or at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 16, 50-56.
  2. Koegel, R. Bradshaw, J., Ashbaugh, K., Koegel, L., (2013).  Improving Question-Asking in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Using Pivotal Response Treatment. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities. doi: 10.1007/s10803-013-1932-6
  3. Koegel, L., Singh, A., Koegel, R., Hollingsworth, J., Bradshaw, J. (2013). Assessment and Improvement of Social Engagement in Infancy. Journal of Positive Behavior Intervention. doi: 10.1177/1098300713482977
  4. Bradshaw, J. (2013). Stimulus Overselectivity. In F. Volkmar (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. New York: Springer-Verlag, Inc
  5. Shic, F., Bradshaw, J., Scassellati, B., Chawarska, K. (2011). Limited Activity Monitoring in Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Brain Research, 1380, 246-254.
  6. Bradshaw, J., Shic, F., & Chawarska, K. (2010). Brief Report: Face-Specific Recognition Deficits in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities.
  7. Shic, F., Chawarska, K., Bradshaw, J., & Scassellati, B. (2008, August). Autism, eye-tracking, entropy. In Development and Learning, 2008. ICDL 2008. 7th IEEE International Conference on (pp. 73-78). IEEE.   
Kristen Ashbaugh, M.A.

Fourth Year
Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology

Email: kristen@education.ucsb.edu
Office: Koegel Autism Center 1141

My name is Kristen Ashbaugh and I am a fourth year graduate student in the Clinical, Counseling and School Psychology program. I am originally from Davis, California and I got my undergraduate degree in Economics from UCLA (Go Bruins!).  I realized during my senior year in college that my passion was in psychology, so moved to Santa Barbara after graduation and worked at the Koegel Autism Center for two years before applying to graduate school.  I was a clinician and the Clinic Coordinator during this time, and it was great to get experience in the field before applying to graduate school at UCSB. 

My primary area of research is clinical intervention techniques for adolescents and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I work with college students and adults on behavioral interventions to improve their communication, social, independent living and vocational skills. In addition to my work at the Autism Center, I am an intern at the UCSB Alcohol and Drug Program and I also work at the Psychiatric Health Facility with the County of Santa Barbara. 

Publications:

  1. Koegel, L.K., Ashbaugh, K., Koegel, R.L., Detar, W.J., Regester, A. (2013). Increasing socialization in adults with asperger’s syndrome. Psychology in the Schools.
  2. Koegel, R.L., Koegel, L.K., Detar, W.J., Ashbaugh, K. (in press). Behavioral approaches for the treatment of adults with autism spectrum disorders. In K. Haertl (Ed.), Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Strategies for Occupational Therapy.
  3. Ashbaugh, K. (2012). Naturalistic Intervention Procedures . In F. Volkmar (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. New York: Springer-Verlag, Inc.
  4. Lang, R., Regester, A., Lauderdale, S., Ashbaugh, K., & Haring, A. (2010). Treatment of anxiety in autism spectrum disorders using cognitive behavior therapy: A systematic review. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, 13(1), 53-63.
  5. Lang, R., Koegel, L., Ashbaugh, K., Regester, A., Ence, W, & Smith, W. (2010) Increasing Exercise Behavior of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 4(4), 565-576.
  6. Koegel, R., Bradshaw, J., Ashbaugh, K.,  & Koegel, L. (2013). Improving Question-Asking Initiations in Young Children with Autism Using Pivotal Response Treatment. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
  7. Koegel, L., Koegel, R., Ashbaugh, K.,  & Bradshaw, J. (In press). The Importance of Early Identification and Intervention for Children with or at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.
Amber Miller, M.A.

Fourth Year
Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology

Email: amiller@education.ucsb.edu
Office: Koegel Autism Center 1117

I am a fourth year graduate student in the department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology working with Drs. Ty Vernon and Robert Koegel. I received my bachelor's degree in Psychology from UC Davis in 2007 and subsequently worked as a clinical trial coordinator at the UC Davis Medical Center and then UC San Francisco. I became interested in autism assessment and treatment at UCSF and was trained in comprehensive ASD assessments during my time there. I began my graduate work at UCSB in 2011 and received my Master's degree in 2013. I work with children, teens, and adults on the spectrum using PRT and related techniques such as self-management and video-feedback to improve socialization and communication skills. I also coordinate and co-lead the START adolescent social skills group. My current research interests include novel intervention strategies across the lifespan and reducing stress in families of children with ASD. In addition to my work with individuals with autism, I am also a clinician at CALM, where I serve children and families who have been victims of child abuse and/or domestic violence. 

Publications:

  1. Koegel, L. K., Koegel, R. L., Miller, A. R., & Detar, W. J. (2014). Issues and interventions for autism spectrum disorders during adolescence and beyond. In F. R. Volkmar, R. Paul, & K. A. Pelphrey (Eds.), Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (4th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 176–190). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  2. Maddock, R. J., Buonocore, M. H., Miller, A. R., Yoon, J. H., Soosman, S. K., & Unruh, A. M. (2013).Abnormal activity-dependent brain lactate and glx responses in panic disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 73 (11), 1111-1119. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.12.015.
  3. Schaffer, L. C., Schaffer, L. C., Miller, A. R., Manley, J. L., Piekut, J. A., & Nordhal, T. E. (2013). An open trial of pregabalin as an acute and maintenance adjunctive treatment for outpatients with treatment resistant bipolar disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders,147, 407-410. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.09.005.
  4. Schaffer, C. B., Schaffer, L. C., Miller, A. R., Hang, E., & Nordhal, T. E. (2011). Efficacy and safety of nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics for chronic insomnia in patients with bipolar disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 128 (3), 305-308. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2010.07.018
  5. Schaffer, L. C., Schaffer, C. B., Hunter, S. L., & Miller, A. R. (2010). Psychiatric reactions to isotretinoin in patients with bipolar disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 122 (3), 306-308. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2009.09.005
Anahita Navab, M.A.

Third Year
Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology

Email: anavab@education.ucsb.edu
Office: Koegel Autism Center 1141

I received my B.A. from UCLA in Psychology in 2010, where I began my research on early identification of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). From 2010-2012, I began my exploration of early intervention for individuals with ASD, which I began to passionately pursue in conjunction with intervention research. My research projects grow directly from the problems and solutions we find to be noteworthy through intervention practice on a day to day basis.

Publications:

  1. Sproatt, D., Navab, A., Koegel, R.L., and Koegel, L.K. (2011). Definition of Operant Conditioning. Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders, Volkmar, F.R.  
  2. Navab, A., Gillespie-Lynch, K., Park, G., Sigman, M., Johnson, S.P., Hutman, T. (2011). Eye-Tracking as a Measure of Responsiveness to Joint Attention in Infants at Risk for Autism. Infancy, 1-16.
Avery Voos, M.A.

Third Year
Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology

Email: avery.voos@gmail.com
Office: 1119 Koegel Autism Center

I am a doctoral student with an emphasis in Clinical Psychology working with Drs. Ty Vernon and Robert Koegel. I received my B.A. in Psychology from Wake Forest University with a minor in Communication in 2009. After my undergraduate work, I spent three years working in the Child Neuroscience Laboratory in the Autism Program at the Yale Child Study Center. Currently, I am interested in using fMRI to investigate the underlying neural mechanisms of positive behavioral change in young children with an autism spectrum disorder after receiving pivotal response treatment (PRT). More generally, I am interested in taking a multidisciplinary approach to the study of social perception and early intervention in autism.

In my free time I enjoy yoga, running, hiking and spending time with family and friends. Being from Connecticut, the Koegel Autism Center serves as a home away from home for me! 

 

Publications:

  1. Gordon, I., Voos, A.C., Bennett, R.H., Bolling, D.Z., Pelphrey, K.A., Kaiser, M.D. (2011). Brain mechanisms for processing affective touch. Human Brain Mapping, doi: 10.1002/hbm.21480.
  2. Kaiser, M.D., Hudac, C.M., Shultz, S., Lee, S., Cheung, C., Berken, A.M., Deen, B., Pitskel, N.B., Sugrue, D.R., Voos, A.C., Saulnier, C.A., Ventola, P., Wolf, J.M., Klin, A., Vander Wyk, B.C., Pelphrey, K.A. (2010). Neural signatures of autism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(49), 21223-21228.
  3. Vander Wyk, B. C., Voos, A., & Pelphrey, K. A. (2012). Action representation in the superior temporal sulcus in children and adults: an fMRI study. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.
  4. Voos, A.C. & Pelphrey, K.A. Tools of the Trade: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. (2013). Journal of Cognition and Development, 14(1),1-9.
  5. Voos, A.C., Pelphrey, K.A., & Kaiser, M.D. (2012). Autistic traits are associated with diminished neural response to affective touch. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, doi: 10.1093/scan/nss009.
  6. Voos, A.C., Pelphrey, K.A., Tirrell, J., Bolling, D.Z., Vander Wyk, B., Kaiser, M.D., McPartland, J.C., Volkmar, F.R., & Ventola, P. (2013). Neural Mechanisms of Improvements in Social Motivation after Pivotal Response Treatment: Two Case Studies. Journal of Autism and Development Disorders, 43,1-10.
  7. Voos, A., & Westphal, A. (2013). Medial temporal lobe. In F. Volkmar (Ed), The encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. New York: Springer.
  8. Westphal, A., Voos, A. & Pelphrey, K. (2012). Chapter 8: Functional magnetic resonance imaging as a biomarker for the diagnosis, progression and treatment of autistic spectrum disorder. In McArthur, Von Kienlin & Steckler (Eds), Translational Neuroimaging. Waltham, MA: Academic Press/Elsevier.
  9. Voos, A. & Pelphrey, K. (in press). Decety, J., & Michalska, K. J. Developmental neuroscience of social perception. In P. Rakic and J. Rubenstein (Eds.), Comprehensive Developmental Neuroscience. Oxford: Elsevier.
  10. Westphal, A., Voos, A., & Ristow, A. (in press). Comorbidities and pharmacological treatment. In A. Klin, J. McPartland & F. Volkmar (Eds.), Asperger Syndrome (Second Edition). New York: Guilford Press.
  11. Westphal, A., Voos, A., & Ristow, A. (2013). Childhood disintegrative disorder. In F. Volkmar (Ed), The encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. New York: Springer.
Zak Koplen

Second Year
Special Education, Disabilities and Developmental Risk Studies

Email: zachary.koplen@gmail.com
Office: Koegel Autism Center 1120

I am a second year student in the special education, disabilities and risk studies program. I received my undergraduate degree in psychology from UCSB in 2010. After completing my undergraduate studies I worked as a clinician at the Koegel Autism Center and at a local elementary/junior high school. I also volunteered for a variety of organizations, including Autism Speaks, Special Olympics, and Peer Buddies. The amazing experiences I was afforded in those various settings allowed me to confirm my passion for helping those affected by ASD.

My research interests involve developing new techniques to facilitate inclusion in the school setting, and to help individuals with ASD improve their social skills. I am currently conducting a study on a technique that focuses on improving conversation skills and first impressions.

In my free time I enjoy hiking, playing beach volleyball, and mountain biking.

Erin Engstrom, Program Supervisor

First Year
Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology

Email: erin@education.ucsb.edu
Office: 1141 Koegel Autism Center

I am a first year student in the Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology program working with Dr. Robert Koegel. I received my bachelor’s degree in Psychology with minors in Applied Psychology and Speech and Hearing Sciences in 2013 at UCSB - a Gaucho at heart! I started working at the Koegel Autism Center in 2012 as a research assistant working with children and adults with ASD. Following graduation, I served as a clinician and Clinic Coordinator at the Koegel Autism Center. This role was the ideal blend of clinical, research, and professional experience before entering graduate school.
 
Currently, my research interests include examining empathy expression in individuals with autism and further developing Pivotal Response Treatments for home, school and community settings.
 
Jordan Ko
First Year
Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology
 
Office: 1117 Koegel Autism Center
 
I am a first year clinical psychology doctoral student working with Dr. Ty Vernon. My interest and experience in early childhood development and intervention brought me to UCSB, and I am particularly interested in the underlying mechanisms of social deficits in ASD and how this can be influenced by early intervention. Before pursuing a PhD, I worked as a research assistant at Boston Children’s Hospital and UCLA’s Center for Autism Research and Treatment on a study aiming to identify clinical and neural markers of ASD in infants with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. Living in Santa Barbara, there is so much to do! I especially enjoy hiking, playing tennis, and baking triple chocolate brownies.
 

Publications:

  1. Jeste, S.S., Wu, J.Y., Senturk, D., Varcin, K., Ko, J., McCarthy, B., Shimizu, C., Dies, K., Vogel-Farley, V., Sahin, M., & Nelson, C.A. (2014). Early developmental trajectories associated with ASD in infants with tuberous sclerosis complex. Neurology, 83(2), 160-168.

 

Amy Barrett

First Year
Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology

Email: abarrett@education.ucsb.edu
Office: 1119 Koegel Autism Center

I am a doctoral student in the Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychology program (clinical emphasis) working with Dr. Ty Vernon. I received my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012, where I gained experience in both developmental and clinical research. Following my undergraduate work, I spent two years as Manager of the Child Developmental Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University as well as conducting clinical work as a behavioral therapist for children on the Autism Spectrum in home, school, and community settings.

In my free time, I love to run, cook, and read.