University of Missouri
205 Portland Street
Columbia, MO 65211



Kristina Aldridge, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology & Anatomical Sciences

Dr. Aldridge is doing research focused on the development, evolution, and variation of brain morphology. At the center of this research is the relationship between the various component structures of the brain and factors influencing those relationships, both normal and pathological. She uses an integrative approach to the study of morphology, using 3D morphometric methods in analysis of medical imaging data from infant, juvenile, and adult humans, non-human primates, and other animal models. She is also involved in studying the relationship between the developing face and developing brain in various neurodevelopmental disorders, including craniosynostosis and autism spectrum disorders.

David Beversdorf, MD

Associate Professor, Departments of Radiology, Neurology, and Psychology

Dr. Beversdorf is currently involved in research on autism, drug abuse, dementia, cognitive effects of stress, the cognitive neuroscience of problem solving ability, functional neuroimaging, and pharmacological modulation of cognition. He has joined the University of Missouri in the departments of Radiology, Neurology, Psychology and the Thompson Center as an Associate Professor to focus on the field of autism, with particular interest in pharmaco-functional neuroimaging as a potential treatment marker, and gene/stress interactions in the development of autism.

Gretchen Carlisle, PhD, MEd, RN

Post-Doctoral Fellow, College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Carlisle’s research interest is in human-animal interaction in families of children with autism. Her current research examines the impact of companion animals living with children with autism. Dr. Carlisle’s aim is to develop an understanding of the types of animals, which might be most beneficial for children with autism, and to elucidate the psychosocial influence of pets in their homes.

Nancy Cheak-Zamora, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Health Sciences

Dr. Cheak-Zamora’s research centers on the utilization of complex measurement tools to evaluate health status and health disparities in the uninsured, in the chronically ill, and within various populations with limited access to health care.  Other areas of interest include HIV prevention and care, autism research and health policy.

Shawn E. Christ, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences

Research in Dr. Christ’s lab is primarily aimed at increasing our understanding of the cognitive and neural processes underlying typical and atypical development. As such, much of the work focuses on the development of cognitive abilities in children with neurodevelopmental disorders (primarly autism, but also other disorders such as phenylketonuria). In addition to conducting behavioral studies, Dr. Christ’s lab also utilizes neuroimaging techniques (fMRI, sMRI, DTI) to better elucidate the neural substrates of cognition in individuals with and without early brain injury.

Ye Duan, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science

Dr. Duan’s research focus includes computer graphics and scientific visualization, biomedical imaging and computer vision, and 3D shape modeling.

Brad Ferguson, PhD

Assistant Research Professor, Departments of Health Psychology & Radiology

Dr. Ferguson’s main research focus involves the study of the gut-brain relationship and how the stress response and anxiety relate to gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in autism spectrum disorder. His goal is to better understand the mechanisms underlying GI symptoms in ASD so that more precise treatments may be created to increase the quality of life in those with ASD. Dr. Ferguson is also involved in clinical trials in ASD where he uses multiple methods (fMRI, electrocardiogram, skin conductance, pupillary light reflex, and endocrinological and immunological techniques) in an attempt to find treatment response biomarkers for core and co-occurring symptoms in ASD.

Stephen Kanne, PhD

Executive Director, Thompson Center
Associate Professor, Department of Health Psychology

Dr. Kanne’s current research interests focus on children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, targeting diagnostic tools, outcome measures, behavioral phenotyping, co-occurring symptoms, evidence-based therapies, and subthreshold symptoms. In addition to publishing in the areas of autism, Dr. Kanne has also published in the areas of cognitive neuropsychology, history of neuropsychology, and pediatric traumatic brain injury.

Judith Miles, MD, PhD

Professor Emerita, Child Health-Genetics

Dr. Miles research interests are the delineation of the clinical and genetic heterogeneity within the autism behavioral diagnosis and how this information can be used to improve diagnosis, find specific genetic and epigenetic causes and to direct treatment choices which will improve outcomes. Collaborative studies with Dr. Ye Duan are using advanced computational techniques to extract 3D surface models of brain structure and analyze brain anatomy including volume, asymmetry and highly localized shape variations. Studies with Dr. Gary Yao are analyzing the dynamic pupillary reflex, as a technique to evaluate functions of the retina, midbrain and cortex which can help characterize brain function in children with autism.  Additional research studies include investigations of the differences between males and females with autism, the role of macrocephaly as an autism risk factor and the relationship between facial and brain structure in autism.

Cheryl Rosenfeld, PhD, DMV

Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Rosenfeld’s laboratory is interested in how the perinatal environment can affect the risk of developing later neurobehavioral disorders, especially autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Dr. Rosenfeld studies several animal models that may be useful in understanding how exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), maternal diet, and other extrinsic factors results in these diseases. By understanding the underpinning mechanisms leading to ASD in these relevant animal models, we may be able to identify diagnostic biomarkers for these complex, heterogeneous neurological disorders and improve preventative and therapeutic remediation strategies for at-risk children.

Kristin Sohl, MD

Assistant Professor, Department of Child Health

Dr. Sohl is the principal investigator for the Autism Treatment Network and her primary research focus is on medical comorbidities in autism, developmental screening implementation in the medical home, quality improvements in health care delivery systems, and family-centered care delivery across settings.

Janine Stichter, PhD

Professor, Department of Special Education

Dr. Stichter’s research interests include:

  • Study of social skills assessment and intervention for children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
  • Correlation of specific environmental variables with increases in communication and pro-social behavior in children and youth with Emotional Behavioral Disorders (EBD) and ASD.
  • Antecedent Interventions for children with social and behavioral challenges.

Gang Yao, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Biological Engineering

Dr. Yao’s research interests include:

  • Biomedical optics, photon migration in turbid media and subsurface imaging.
  • Tissue optics and non-invasive tissue characterization.
  • Optical imaging in vision studies, dynamic pupil light reflex and cortical imaging.
  • Biomedical instrumentation and signal/image processing.