Meet Our Team

shapeimage_1_1Raphael (Raphe) Bernier, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Adjunct Professor in the departments of Psychology and School Psychology at the University of Washington, Executive Director of the Seattle Children’s Autism Center

Dr. Bernier received his PhD at the University of Washington, his clinical training at UCLA, and also holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Tufts University. His research spans genetics, neural mechanisms, and behavior in autism. Additionally, through nationwide collaborations and independent projects at UW, Dr. Bernier’s research examines effective and accurate diagnosis and treatment. As a clinical psychologist and the principle investigator on a number of research studies, he is actively involved in research at the intersection of genetics, the brain, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Bernier’s favorite pastimes are playing with his kids and being active, whether it be rock climbing, running marathons, or doing adventure races.

Micah Pepper, MPH

Manager of Program Operations

Micah received her MPH from Boston University in Global Public Health and a BA in Anthropology from Whitman College.  Internationally, Micah has worked as the Research Manager in the Chilean Patagonia in a rehabilitation center for children with special needs and researched Chagas disease in Bogotá, Colombia.  Since returning to Seattle she has worked in Clinical Trials in the area of vascular medicine and surgery.  In her free time Micah enjoys being with her 2 small daughters, speaking Spanish, baking, bikes, teaching yoga, and going on adventures.

shapeimage_7_1Caitlin Hudac, Ph.D.

EEG and Eye-Tracking Team Director, Developmental Cognitive Neuroscientist

Dr. Hudac studies how brains and behavior change from infancy through adulthood. Dr. Hudac received her doctoral degree in Developmental Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Much of her research focuses on the social brain and socioemotional development in children with and without autism. Outside of work you can find Dr. Hudac discovering what it is like to be “outdoorsy”, watching football, or cozied up at a coffee shop.

Gerdts_Jennifer_240929Jen Gerdts, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Director, Clinical Training Unit, UW LEND at CHDD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Seattle Children’s Autism Center

Dr. Gerdts received her doctoral degree in child clinical psychology from the University of Washington. She completed her clinical psychology internship with a specialty in developmental disabilities at UCLA and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the UW Autism Center. Dr. Gerdts’s research interests involve understanding the genetic basis of autism, including studying autism-related traits in family members of children with autism. Outside of work, Dr. Gerdts enjoys spending time with her children and family, and taking in all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer- playing at parks, hiking, skiing, and curling up with a good book when it’s raining outside.

Anne B. Arnett, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Child Clinical Psychology

Dr. Arnett studies brain-behavior relationships in children with developmental disorders. Her research is primarily focused on genetic and neuropsychological factors associated with atypical attention, memory and learning. Dr. Arnett received her degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver and completed her clinical training at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Outside of work, Dr. Arnett enjoys backcountry skiing, sailing, and camping with her family.

IMG_20170303_110238 (1)Jennifer Beighley, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Clinical Psychology 

Dr. Beighley completed the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at Louisiana State University and did her clinical training at Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Child Development Center in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Beighley is interested in studying factors relating to early identification and treatment of children with developmental disabilities. Clinically, she is interested in behavioral treatment of co-occurring psychopathology including obsessive compulsive disorder and challenging behavior such as feeding difficulty in individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Outside of work, Dr. Beighley enjoys spending time at home with her children, adventuring with family and friends, and exploring the great outdoors.

Eva Kurtz-Nelson, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Clinical Psychology

Dr. Kurtz-Nelson received her PhD in school psychology and MS in special education from the University of Oregon. She completed her clinical training at the Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, NE. Her research and clinical work center on the prevention of severe challenging behavior and the promotion of positive caregiver-child relationships for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Outside of work, Dr. Kurtz-Nelson enjoys reading, traveling, going to concerts, and spending time with her family, friends, and dog.

Sandy Trinh SP Practicum PhotoSandy Trinh, M.S.

Doctoral Student in Educational Psychology

She received her B.S. in cognitive neuroscience at Brown University and an M.S. in neuroscience and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Sandy’s research interests involve understanding the neural underpinnings of autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities to refine intervention and educational practices. She is also interested in research and practice aimed at improving access to intervention and education for those with developmental disabilities in low-resourced areas. Outside of work, Sandy enjoys hiking, eating berries at farmer’s markets, and discovering great coffee shops.

Tara Rutter, M.S.

Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology at Seattle Pacific University

Tara is a third-year doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Seattle Pacific University. Her research interests include emotion recognition across modalities, stress-related gene expression and behavior, and the socioemotional development of children with neurodevelopmental disorder. She is particularly interested in how stressors effect the physical and mental health of neurodiverse children and adolescents. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, going to local concerts, and writing poetry.

shapeimage_12_1Ghina Haidar

Doctoral Student in Educational Psychology

She received her B.A. in Mass Communications at the Lebanese International University prior to receiving her second B.A. in Psychology at the University of Washington. Ghina’s research interests involve the socio-emotional trajectories of children with developmental disabilities and creating effective intervention strategies to aid children with autism and their families. In her free time, Ghina enjoys traveling, reading, photography, and a good cup of coffee.

8f081455-d0bd-49c4-8479-ae26b0fc696aCandace Rhoads, M.A.

Doctoral Student in Educational Psychology

She received her B.A. in Psychology from The University of Arizona, and M.A. in Developmental Psychology from San Francisco State University. Candace’s research interests focus on early identification of autism spectrum disorders and validation of new diagnostic and behavioral assessments. She is also particularly interested in neurocognitive development of individuals with autism. In her free time, Candace likes to spend time with her two dogs, explore Seattle, catch up with friends, read, and binge-watch TV shows.

Daisy Ma PictureRuqian (Daisy) Ma, M.A., M.S.W.

Doctoral Student in Educational Psychology

Daisy graduated from Boston College with a MA in Developmental Psychology and a MSW in Social Work. Daisy has a particular interest in using neuroimaging and behavioral methods to investigate early brain development, functioning and social interactions in typically and atypically developing populations. Daisy is also very passionate about adapting culturally competent interventions and treatment methods into other cultural backgrounds. Outside the lab, Daisy likes to play with her guinea pig and cats, read, cook, camp, travel, and attend concerts.

shapeimage_6_1Alana Peters-Whiting

Data Entry Operator Lead

Alana graduated from Western Washington University with a B.S. in Geology. As an undergrad, Alana worked as a Laboratory Assistant in the WWU Department of Biology as well as the UW Department of Pharmacy. Her love of science brought her to work at the Bernier Lab. She currently builds databases and manages the data collected from all of our studies. Alana also pursues musical theatre professionally and performs at local theaters, including the 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and Village Theatre.

Brenna Boyd, M.A.

Research Study Coordinator, ABC-CT Study

Brenna started at the Bernier Lab in 2016.  She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish from Davidson College (NC) and a Master’s degree in Social Psychology from Arizona State University.  Brenna is also a certified therapeutic horseback riding instructor and has many years of experience with people of all ages with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  A Montana native, Brenna also taught psychology and liberal arts classes at a University in Tunisia for 2 years before moving to Seattle. Brenna is interested in genetics and genetic counseling, increasing research access for underserved and underrepresented backgrounds, and in her spare time enjoys spending time outside, distance running, horseback riding, and exploring the Pacific Northwest with her husband and dogs.

heenaHeena Panjwani

Research Study Coordinator, GABA Study

Heena graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Psychology and a BS in Physiology. During her undergraduate studies, she interned at Seattle Children’s Research Institute focusing on autism research via neuroimaging. She is now a Research Study Assistant in the Bernier Lab and is interested in the developmental trajectories of children and adolescents with autism. Heena hopes to pursue further graduate and PhD studies in the near future. In her spare time, Heena can be found in a blanket burrito watching Netflix and knitting, in the kitchen baking, or practicing applying henna on anyone who will let her.

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.38.04 AMMonique Mahony

Research Study Assistant, EEG & Eye-Tracking

Monique completed her BS in psychology from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. Monique then worked as a registered behavior technician where she implemented in-home ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy intervention to children with ASD and other developmental disorders. She is now a part of the EEG/ Eye Tracking team at the Bernier Lab, and has a particular interest in perceptual psychology as it applies to assistive technologies for people with development disorders. Outside of the lab, Monique enjoys games nights with friends, hiking, and going to dog parks with her adorable rat terrier/ chihuahua mix.

Daniel Cho

Research Study Assistant, Seattle Children’s Autism Center

Daniel graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Washington. During his undergraduate career, he was involved in the Psychology Honor’s program and interned at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, assisting in autism research via neuroimaging. After graduating, Daniel then worked as a behavioral interventionist to implement ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy for children with ASD in home and community environments. Daniel hopes to pursue graduate school for a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and to continue research in autism. Outside the lab, Daniel enjoys to sing a cappella, drink coffee in cute coffee shops, obsess about Marvel superhero movies, and play Dungeons and Dragons (yes, it’s as nerdy as it sounds).

Theo Ho, MPH

Research Study Assistant, Seattle Children’s Autism Center

Theo obtained a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Edinburgh in 2012.  He has experience working with all age groups of the ASD population, in a variety of capacities, spanning the entire continuum of ASD.  He is interested in health care service delivery to marginalized patient populations, specifically health care scenarios involving peripheral-careers (informal and professional) centered around young adult patients on the spectrum.  In his spare time, Theo enjoys growing spare thyme and never making bad puns.

Curtis Eayrs

Research Study Assistant

Curtis graduated from the University of Washington in June 2017 with a premed degree. He is interested in neurobiology and its effect on behavior of both neurotypicals and neuroatypicals. As an undergraduate, Curtis was one of the original members of UW’s HuskyMOSSAIC program. After graduation, he became an Advisory Board Member for UW’s HuskyMOSSAIC and continues to attend their monthly social gatherings, offering advice/feedback on strategic planning. In his free time, Curtis enjoys listening to music, singing karaoke and performing with choirs, watching network TV, watching Japanese anime, and local Seattle and UW sports. Fun Fact: Curtis memorized 355 digits of the number Pi in 10 minutes during a 7th grade Pi Day contest!

Vanessa Phuong

Clinical Research Associate, Seattle Children’s Autism Center

Vanessa graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology, and a BA in Public Health Studies. She has worked on clinical studies in Baltimore at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and in Seattle at Swedish Medical Center. She is very interested in translational clinical research and is passionate about understanding and evaluating the safety and efficacy of new treatments and interventions. She is also particularly interested in the intersection of public health and mental health. In her free time, Vanessa enjoys dancing, hiking, hosting board game nights, and spoiling her cat, Mio.