Current Graduate Students & Post-Doctoral Fellows

Anne V. KAnne Kirby- finalirby is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science. She received a BS/MS degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of New Hampshire. Anne is interested in the experiences of individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families throughout the lifespan. She works with Dr. Grace Baranek on the Sensory Experiences Project, studying the role of sensory features on the lives of people with ASD and their families. Her dissertation work is focused on factors influencing the activity participation of young adults with ASD.

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Dr. Schipul is a T-32 postdoctoral fellow through the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities. She completed her doctorate work in the Dept. of Psychology at CarnegieMellon University under the guidance of Dr. Marcel Just. Her dissertation work examined brain synchronization and plasticity during learning in adults with autism.  Dr. Schipul is now working at UNC with Dr. Grace Baranek in the Dept. of Allied Health and Dr. Aysenil Belger in the Dept. of Psychiatry. She is using electrophysiology methods to study cognition and learning in children with autism.         

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Maura Sabatos-Devito is a doctoral student in Developmental Psychology, studying under an interdisciplinary Autism Leadership Training Grant with Drs. J. Steven Reznick and Grace Baranek. She earned a B.S. in Elementary/Special Education from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and is a certified New York State Special Education/Elementary Education teacher. She also received an M.S. in Psychology from Villanova University. Under the guidance of Dr. Grace Baranek and the Sensory Experiences Project team, Maura is investigating the relationship between attentional orienting and sensory response patterns of young children with autism using eye tracking methods (SEP Study 6). She is also working with the Early Development Project-2 as an interventionist for families with toddlers at risk for autism or developmental delay. She is interested in understanding typical developmental processes of children between birth and age 3, and using that knowledge to inform research on early diagnosis and intervention for children at risk for autism and developmental delays.

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Katrina Martin, Ph. D. is a T-32 postdoctoral fellow through the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities. Katrina received her doctorate in Special Education from the University of California, Berkeley. Combining observed behavioral response with physiological data, Katrina’s research provides a bridge between the fields of education and neuroscience. Dr. Martin now works with Dr. Linda Watson using these measures to explore outcome effects of an early intervention study for children at risk for developing autism. Her work aims to provide insight into the physiological correlates of social, sensory and empathetic behavior in children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Jessica K.Jessica Kinard, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a PhD graduate from the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences at UNC Chapel Hill.  She received her B.S. in Communication Disorders from Appalachian State University and her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from UNC Chapel Hill.  Jessica is interested in researching communication interventions for young children with autism spectrum disorders, particularly children from culturally and linguistically diverse families.  She is currently working with Dr. Linda Watson on the Early Development Project-2.  As part of this project, Jessica assesses one-year-olds at-risk for autism, measures behaviors in parent-child interactions, and also writes newsletters for families.  For her dissertation, Jessica studied the EDP-2 intervention (Adapted Responsive Teaching) among primarily Spanish-speaking families of preschoolers with autism.  She used a single-case design study to examine the success of the intervention and is completing qualitative interviews to explore the program’s acceptability and feasibility among Hispanic families.  She is currently doing a Post Doc at Kennedy Krieger in Boston.

Sallie Wallace Nowell, M.S. CCC-SLP is a doctoral student in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences. She received her B.S. in Communication Studies and Psychology and M.S. degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill. Sallie completed an Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) clinical fellowship at Oregon Health and Science University and worked on interdisciplinary clinical teams at the Institute on Development and Disability in Portland, Oregon prior to beginning her doctoral studies. Sallie is advised by Dr. Linda Watson and contributes to the Early Development Project-2 as well as the Advancing Social-Communication and Play (ASAP) project. Her research interests include the assessment and treatment of social and pragmatic communication deficits in individuals with autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.


Katie Belardi is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her research interests include language acquisition and development and effective interventions for improving language and play skills in children with autism.

Katie Williams is a PhD student in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. Prior to attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she received her B.S. From Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where she majored in Philosophy and Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. She received her M.S. in Cognitive Neuropsychology from the University of Essex in England. Katie is a part of the Sensory Experiences Project as well as the Sensory Anxiety Study, a collaboration with Duke University. Her research interests include sensory processing differences in autism and the role of technology in intervention.