Our center is located in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and includes collaborations with BANDS at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, the Geisel School of Medicine, and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT.
Caroline Robertson, Ph.D.
Dr. Caroline Robertson is an Assistant Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Dartmouth, and the Director of the Dartmouth Autism Research Initiative (DARI). Caroline's research focuses on cognitive neuroscience approaches to understanding autism and neurodiversity.
Caroline received her BA from Columbia University in 2009 and her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2013. At Cambridge, Caroline was a Gates-Cambridge Scholar at the Cambridge Autism Research Centre, and an NIH-Cambridge Fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health. Caroline performed her postdoctoral research in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, during which she was a junior fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows. Caroline has been named a fellow of the American Academy of Achievement (2014), a NARSAD Young Investigator of the Brain and Behavior Foundation (2015), and a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences (2016). Caroline's contributions to autism research have been covered in national news sites including: The Huffington Post, U.S. News and World Report, Mother Jones, the Harvard Gazette, and Spectrum.
Jennifer McLaren, M.D.
Jennifer McLaren, M.D. is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and The Dartmouth Institute at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. Dr. McLaren specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry, particularly in autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities.
Dr. McLaren received her BA from University of Notre Dame in 2001 and her M.D. from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in 2005. She completed her residency in adult psychiatry at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in 2008 and fellowship in child psychiatry at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in 2010.
Improving the quality of life for people with autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities has been the defining purpose of Dr. McLaren’s career. Dr. McLaren oversees the Behavioral and Neurodevelopmental Services (BANDS) at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, a multidisciplinary group of providers who work with children, adolescents, and young adults with autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions. Dr. McLaren also directs the Individual Placement and Support employment program for people with autism and developmental conditions at DHMC, and is the medical director for the Bureau of Developmental Services in New Hampshire. Dr. McLaren has received awards for clinical and teaching excellence, and is is a member of the Vulnerable Children’s Research Group at The Dartmouth Institute.
Jonathan Lichtenstein, PsyD, MBA
Dr. Lichtenstein is the Director of Pediatric Neuropsychological Services at DHMC. He is also an Assistant Professor in the departments of Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and The Dartmouth Institute at the Geisel School of Medicine. Dr. Lichtenstein’s clinical and research pursuits concern brain-behavior relationships during neurodevelopment in children and adolescents ages 2 to 23. Current research projects are focused on traumatic brain injury, HIV, cancer and associated treatments, and autism spectrum disorders.
Nina Sand-Loud, M.D.
Nina Sand-Loud, MD is an Assistant Professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. Dr. Sand-Loud joined Dartmouth-Hitchcock in 2010 and specializes in autism, sleep disorders, down syndrome, and developmental delay.
Dr. Sand-Loud received her MD from McGill University Faculty of Medicine in 1996. She completed her internship in pediatrics at the Montreal Children’s Hospital in 1997, residency in pediatrics at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in 1999, and fellowship in developmental-behavioral pediatrics at the Boston Children’s Hospital in 2003. She is board certified in general and developmental-behavioral pediatrics.
William J. Hudenko, Ph.D.
Dr. Hudenko is a Research Assistant Professor of clinical psychology in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Dartmouth, an Adjunct Assistant Professor of clinical psychology at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, and the Chief Science Officer of Voi, Inc. Dr. Hudenko is also a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in Autism Spectrum Disorders and child disruptive behavior disorders. He has research experience in the area of ASD and the vocal expression of emotion. Most recently, Dr. Hudenko’s research has focused on the novel use of technology to improve the delivery of mental healthcare.
Dr. Hudenko received his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan, and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Vanderbilt University. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Dartmouth College, and has been a faculty member at Ithaca College, Cornell University, and Dartmouth College. Dr. Hudenko’s work has been featured both in scientific journals and in media outlets such as the Discovery Channel, NBC, MSNBC, LiveScience, and NPR.
Bryan W. Luikart, Ph.D.
Bryan Luikart, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular and Systems Biology at The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. Dr. Luikart received a BS in Molecular and Cell Biology from Texas A&M Universty (1999) and a PhD in Neuroscience from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (2004). Working under Dr. Luis Parada, Dr. Luikart first discovered that knockout of a gene that regulates growth factor signaling, Pten, profoundly increases the growth of dendrites and associated synapses in the mouse brain. Further, PTEN mutations are found in autism patients and this Pten knockout mouse was the first mouse model for autism that recapitulated both behavioral and morphological changes reminiscent of human autism. This discovery was named one of the top 10 biggest research events in 2007 by Autism Speaks and is the foundational discovery on which current clinical trials testing whether rapamycin can treat autism symptoms in patients. Dr. Luikart continued to study Pten during postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Gary Westbrook at the Vollum Institute of Oregon Health and Science University.
Here, Dr. Luikart developed techniques for viral-mediated molecular manipulation in vivo and learned electrophysiology to find that Pten knockdown increased the formation of functional excitatory synapses. Dr. Luikart joined the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in 2011. Since joining the faculty at Geisel, Dr. Luikart continues to study how Pten knockout impacts neuronal function and discovered that autism- associated mutations in Pten can result in the same pathological changes as seen in Pten knock-out neurons. Further, the Luikart laboratory has continued to develop more sophisticated tools for viral-mediated molecular manipulation with the goal of modeling other genetic changes found in autism to understand the neurobiological basis of autism.
Courtney Rogers is the Associate Director for Operations and Outreach for the Dartmouth Autism Research Initiative, the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, and the Center for Social Brain Sciences. Courtney provides high-level administrative support to DARI, coordinates community outreach events, and facilitates community partnerships. Courtney received her M.Ed. in Human Relations from Plymouth State University, with a focus on mental health and counseling.
A.J. is a first year graduate student in the Robertson Lab at Dartmouth College. Prior to joining the lab, A.J. worked at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, coordinating projects investigating language, social cognition, and sensory perception in autism. She received her B.A. from Yale University in cognitive science and M.S. from UNC-Chapel Hill in speech-language pathology. While at UNC, A.J. was awarded a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disorders (LEND) fellowship to pursue transdisciplinary training in research and clinical practice.
Jeff is a lab manager in the Robertson Lab at Dartmouth College based in the Kanwisher Lab at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. Since 2017, he has worked with Dr. Robertson at MIT and Dartmouth studying visual perception in autism using approaches including VR, eye-tracking, machine learning, and fMRI. He received an MA from Dartmouth College and a BS from the Pennsylvania State University. Before moving into autism research, Jeff worked with individuals and families suffering from Alzheimer's disease through his time in clinical trials as a clinical research coordinator.
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