Summer Institute 2018 Presenter Bios
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Teal Benevides, PhD, MS, OTR/L

June 14, 2018:  Engaging Stakeholders for Research on Adulthood 

Dr. Benevides is an occupational therapist, researcher, wife, and mother. Currently, she serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Augusta University where her time is spent in research and teaching of graduate occupational therapy students. Dr. Benevides received her PhD from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2014, and has been an occupational therapist for over 13 years.

Dr. Benevides is committed to fostering access to services and supports for individuals on the autism spectrum. This access will help improve health outcomes and ensure participation in meaningful life activities. Dr. Benevides has received numerous grants from agencies including the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). In her current work, Dr. Benevides aims to improve autistic and non-autistic collaboration in research settings to ensure inclusive and respectful teams to address the most pressing priorities faced by the autism community. An extension of this work aims to address racial/ethnic disparities in care for individuals on the autism spectrum in Georgia.

Paul Shattuck, PhD

June 14, 2018:  Engaging Stakeholders for Research on Adulthood in Autism Research

Dr. Shattuck is an Associate Professor at Drexel University’s A.J. Drexel Autism Institute where he leads the Institute's Life Course Outcomes Program. He has a secondary faculty appointment at Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health. Most of his current research is aimed at understanding services and related outcomes among youth with autism as they leave high school and transition to young adulthood. Dr. Shattuck’s work has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Institute for Education Sciences, Autism Speaks, and the Organization for Autism Research. Prior to joining the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Dr. Shattuck was a faculty member at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Shattuck’s professional background includes nonprofit fundraising and program development. His education includes master’s degrees in sociology and social work, a Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and postdoctoral training in epidemiology.


Stephen Shore, PhD
June 14, 2018:  Engaging Stakeholders for Research on Adulthood in Autism Research

Diagnosed with "Atypical Development and strong autistic tendencies" and "too sick" for outpatient treatment Dr. Shore was recommended for institutionalization. Nonverbal until four, and with much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, Stephen is now a professor at Adelphi University where his research focuses on matching best practice to the needs of people with autism.

In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen is internationally renowned for presentations, consultations and writings on lifespan issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure. His most recent book College for Students with Disabilities combines personal stories and research for promoting success in higher education.

A current board member of Autism Speaks and the Organization for Autism Research, president emeritus of the Asperger's Association of New England, and advisory board member of the Autism Society, Dr. Shore serves on the boards of the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association, The US Autism and Asperger Association, and other autism related organizations.


James Cusack
June 21, 2018:  Engaging Stakeholders in Research: A Funder's Perspective

James Cusack joined Autistica in September 2015 following a career in autism research at the University of Aberdeen, and is currently the Director of Science at Autistica. From a young age James has also worked directly with families affected by autism, as well as having experience in clinical, educational and social care settings. James has sat on a number of advisory panels discussing the role of research in autism, and was vocal in the production of the report, 'A Future Made Together'. He was part of a core stakeholder group which successfully campaigned for Scotland’s first ever autism strategy. James has also been a member of Autistica’s Science Review Panel since January 2014.  He is proud to lead on Autistica's strong, community-driven research strategy.



Christina Nicolaidis, MD, MPH

June 29, 2018:  Equitable Inclusion of Autistic Adults as Co-Researchers 

Christina Nicolaidis, MD, MPH is Professor and Senior Scholar of Social Determinants of Health at Portland State University and Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. As an internist and services researcher, she has devoted most of her career to equitably partnering with marginalized communities to improve their health and healthcare. Dr. Nicolaidis co-founded and co-directs that Academic Autism Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE; Since 2006, AASPIRE has been including autistic adults and other stakeholders as equal partners in all phases of the research process. Under her leadership, the AASPIRE team has conducted numerous NIH-funded, community-based participatory research studies and has created the AASPIRE Healthcare Toolkit ( Dr. Nicolaidis has also led multiple other participatory research projects with autistic adults, adults with intellectual disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, trauma survivors, and people with chronic pain or substance use disorders. She serves as the founding Editor-in-Chief of Autism in Adulthood (, a new peer-reviewed academic journal that focus on the most pressing issues affecting autistic adults. In keeping with Dr. Nicolaidis' commitment to inclusion, the journal incorporates the contributions of autistic adults on many levels, including as Editorial Board members, reviewers, and authors. Dr. Nicolaidis has mentored dozens of students, trainees and junior faculty members. She continues to practice inpatient internal medicine and regularly teaches PhD courses on research methods. Dr. Nicolaidis also brings her personal experience as the mother of a transition-aged autistic son, and as an ally, employer, mentor, and friend to other autistic adults.

Dora Raymaker, Ph.D.

June 29, 2018:  Equitable Inclusion of Autistic Adults as Co-Researchers 

Dora Raymaker

Dora Raymaker, Ph.D., is a Research Assistant Professor at Portland State University’s Regional Research Institute for Human Services in the School of Social Work, Co-director of the Academic Autism Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE), and associate editor of the journal "Autism in Adulthood." Dr. Raymaker's research interests broadly include community-engaged practice, systems thinking, accessible technology, measurement adaptation and knowledge translation, and dynamics at the intersection of science, society, and public policy. In application, Dr. Raymaker conducts intervention and services research in collaboration with disability and mental health communities to improve health and well-being,employment outcomes, and self-determination, and to reduce discrimination and stigma. In the remaining three minutes of time, Dr. Raymaker enjoys writing fiction and making art; Dora's science fiction mystery novel Hoshi and the Red City Circuit is available from Autonomous Press in 2018.

Hilde Geurts

July 5, 2018:  Community Participatory Research and Policy-Making: Initiatives with Different Set-Ups 

Hilde Geurts

Hilde Geurts is a professor by special appointment at the Department of Psychology of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The main focus of her work is on neurodevelopmental disorders, especially Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). She focuses on cognition (especially cognitive control/executive functioning), inter & intra individual variability, quality of life as well as interventions across the life span. She recently finished her VIDI grant (MagW NWO, 2011-2016) and her fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) to study the effect of aging in autism. In 2014, Prof Geurts co-founded the research network reach-aut (see in which a wide range of stakeholders are together shaping autism research. One day a week she works as a senior researcher at the "Dr. Leo Kannerhuis" centre for autism. She is currently the vice-president of INSAR.

Monique Post

July 5, 2018:  Community Participatory Research and Policy-Making: Initiatives with Different Set-Ups 

Monique Post

Monique Post, who received a diagnosis of Aspergers at the age of 25, became one of the first experiential autism consultants for the Dutch government in 2013 during a project ‘Looking from within autism’. She is currently European Ambassador for the Dutch Autism Association (NVA), has been a researcher/joint interviewer Webchair for the FE college (Haagse Hogeschool) in The Hague and is involved in a new research project EmFASiS ‘Gender and Health in girls and women with ASS’, which will be starting this year. Through her company Post Presentations in The Netherlands and international work she lectures on autism for FE colleges and universities and has been a contributor to various Dutch autism magazines. The ethos of her United World College background that each individual person is unique and can make a difference is apparent in her lectures as well as in the individuals she is able to support in their emancipation.

Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D.

July 12, 2018: Stakeholder Participation at the Systems Level

Geraldine Dawson

Geraldine Dawson is Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Pediatrics, and Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke University. She is Past-President of the International Society for Autism Research and a member of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. She is Director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, an interdisciplinary autism research and treatment center, and Chair of the Faculty Governance Committee for the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. Dawson is Director of an NIH Autism Center of Excellence Award at Duke focused on understanding early detection, neural bases, and treatment of autism and ADHD. Dawson has published extensively on early detection, brain function, and treatment of autism. She served as Autism Speaks’ first Chief Science Officer from 2008-2013.

Dena Gassner, Ph.D.

July 12, 2018:  Stakeholder Participation at the Systems Level 

Dena Gassner

Dena Gassner is a PhD Candidate in Social Work at Adelphi University. She is a grant reviewer for the Department of Defense and has provided testimony on health care disparities in autism for IACC. Her insights on transition were incorporated into a report by the Government Accountability Office. She has coordinated the INSAR SIG on "Incorporating Autistic Intellect in Research" for two years and facilitated a third at the 2018 meeting. Dena has spoken on various autism topics in Russia, Geneva (UN), Scotland, at Cambridge and presented to the United Nations on World Autism Awareness Day in April 2018. She has contributed articles and chapters to multiple publications. Her current research is on reframing autistic identity in late diagnosis, using Resilience Theory for successful outcomes for autistics by maximizing supports.

John Robison

July 12, 2018:  Stakeholder Participation at the Systems Level 

John Robison

John Robison is best known to the public for his writing. He has wrote several books on life with autism that have made bestseller lists on four continents. They are part of the curriculum in many schools and colleges. The autism community knows Robison as a vocal and enthusiastic advocate for research and policy to improve the lives of autistic people. In other circles he is recognized for his performance photography; the automobile company he founded; and the electronic music creations of his youth - including special effects for Pink Floyd’s sound company and custom guitars for the band KISS. In peer-reviewed journals he has authored two articles on the evolution and history of the autism diagnosis and is a co-author of the WHO ICF autism core sets papers. In the automotive world, Robison known as a senior technical expert for the Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Land Rover, Mercedes and Porsche clubs. He has written widely on technical issues with all these cars and about car care, restoration, and forensics in general.

Jill Locke, Ph.D.

July 24, 2018:  Community-Academic Partnerships in Implementation Research 

Jill Locke, Ph.D., is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington (UW) and core faculty at the UW School Mental Health Assessment Research and Training Center. Dr. Locke received her PhD in Education from UCLA and completed her postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on the: 1) social functioning of children with autism; 2) identification and implementation of evidence-based practices for individuals with autism in real-world settings; and 3) factors that predict successful implementation of evidence-based practices in schools. She is currently the principal investigator of an NIMH Career Development Award that uses mixed methods to examine the individual and organizational factors that predict successful implementation and sustainment of evidence-based practices for children with autism in public schools, and the PI of a pilot grant to study the feasibility and acceptability of a peer-mentoring program for college students with ASD. Her research has highlighted the importance of collaborating with community stakeholders such as public schools and the reality of working within the constraints of large, publicly funded systems, their timeline (e.g. school calendar year), and with their personnel.

David Mandell, Sc.D.

July 24, 2018:  Community-Academic Partnerships in Implementation Research 

David Mandell

Dr. Mandell directs the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research. Dr. Mandell is also Associate Director of the Center for Autism Research at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The goal of his research is to improve the quality of care individuals with autism receive in their communities. This research is of two types. The first examines, at the state and national level, the effects of different strategies to organize, finance and deliver services on service use patterns and outcomes. The second consists of experimental studies designed to determine the best strategies to successfully implement proven-efficacious practices in community settings. Dr. Mandell holds a bachelor of arts in psychology from Columbia University and a doctorate of science from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

Michelle Nutini, M.Ed.

July 24, 2018:  Community-Academic Partnerships in Implementation Research 

Michelle Nutini

Michelle Nutini recently transitioned into the role of Autistic Support Coordinator for the School District of Philadelphia, where she spent over a decade as a K-5 Autistic Support teacher. Focused on building capacity, she is working with educational partners to strengthen the implementation of evidence-based practices in over 300 specialized classrooms spread across nearly 200 of the city’s public schools. She is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Special Education Leadership and Management at Drexel University as a USELT (Urban Special Education Leaders for Tomorrow) Scholar, an innovative initiative funded through the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Michelle seeks to infuse creativity and create meaningful connections throughout her collaborative work with a variety of stakeholders in order to improve outcomes for students with autism. Her current assignment offers her the flexibility to provide support to students, educators, and families from the ground up as well as help create to and carve out resources and procedures to support this work from the top down.

Melanie Pellecchia, Ph.D., BCBA, NCSP

July 24, 2018:  Community-Academic Partnerships in Implementation Research 

Melanie Pellecchia

Dr. Pellecchia is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a licensed clinical psychologist, nationally certified school psychologist (NCSP), and board certified behavior analyst (BCBA). Dr. Pellecchia holds a Master’s degree in applied behavior analysis from Temple University and a doctorate in School Psychology also from Temple University. Her clinical and research interests lie in improving the implementation of evidence-based treatments for children with autism spectrum disorders in under-served communities, especially public schools and early intervention settings. She has extensive experience developing and evaluating publicly-funded education programs for children with autism spectrum disorder, and working with teachers, staff, and administrators to improve their implementation of high quality treatments.

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