Child Development: Autism – Rajesh Kana, PhD – University of Alabama, Birmingham


Brain imaging in children and adults with autism suggests that a focal brain abnormality cannot explain a complex disorder like autism. Instead, the different centers of the brain do not seem to be working together.

Dr. Kana is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at University of Alabama Birmingham. He is also the director of the Cognition, Brain, and Autism Laboratory at University of Alabama Birmingham. His research focuses on using functional and structural MRI to study the neural architecture of autism. Learn more about Dr. Rajesh Kana here.

Childhood Obesity Treatment – David Janicke, PhD – University of Florida


There are few treatment programs for childhood obesity in rural areas.

Dr. Janicke is an associate professor in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions at University of Florida. His research focuses on translational research intended to promote the dissemination of obesity interventions for individuals in underserved settings, with a primary focus on children. Learn more about Dr. David Janicke here.

Early Child Development in Developing Countries – Jere Behrman, PhD – University of Pennsylvania


Reducing stunting results in more schooling, higher cognitive skills as adults, and lower poverty as adults.

Dr. Behrman is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor in the Department of Economics in the School of Arts and Sciences at University of Pennsylvania. He is also the Associate Director at the Population Aging Research Center at University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on empirical microeconomics, labor economics, human resources (early childhood development, education, health, nutrition), project evaluation, economic demography, incentive systems, and household behaviors. Learn more about Dr. Jere Behrman here.

Impact of Grade Retention – Jan Hughes, PhD – Texas A&M University


Retained students were more successful in their repeat year, but by grade five they achieved as well as they would have if promoted.

Dr. Hughes is a professor in the Department of Educational Psychology in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on aggression and conduct problems, peer relations, school-based prevention, social and emotional development, and teacher-student relationships. Learn more about Dr. Jan Hughes here.

Addiction and Criminal Justice – Kathryn McCollister, PhD – University of Miami


Post-release aftercare programs play a pivotal role in reducing substance use relapse and criminal recidivism among offenders.

Dr. McCollister is an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health in the Miller School of Medicine at University of Miami. Her research focuses on Economic evaluation of addiction treatment, treatment in criminal justice settings, applied microeconomics, development economics. Learn more about Dr. Kathryn McCollister here.

Adult Smoking Cessation – Glenn Ashkanazi, PhD – University of Florida



Quitting smoking at any age can result in immediate beneficial effects such as lowered blood pressure and will increase your life expectancy.

Dr. Ashkenazi is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions at University of Florida. He is also the Director of the University of Florida Psychology Clinic. His research focuses on behavioral health and psychology, addiction, and rehabilitation psychology. His clinical focus is on pre-transplant behavioral health evaluations in order to assess cognitive/behavioral health factors relevant to organ transplantation such as understanding, risk-benefit analysis, motivation, quality of life, medical adherence history, emotional adjustment, coping resources, substance use history, support system adequacy, and other factors as relevant to optimizing outcome. Learn more about Dr. Glenn Ashkenazi here.

Automated Text Messaging to Improve Depression Treatment – Adrian Aguilera, PhD – University of California Berkeley



We can utilize mobile technologies to help people get more out of mental health treatment.

Dr. Aguilera is an assistant professor in the School of Social welfare at University of California Berkeley. His research focuses on utilizing digital health and mobile technologies to improve health and mental healthcare of low-income and ethnic minority populations, with a focus on Latino and Spanish speaking populations. His clinical focus is on developing and testing the impact of an automated text messaging intervention to improve engagement with depression treatment in a public sector setting. Learn more about Dr. Adrian Aguilera here.

Backpack Safety – Joanne Foss, PhD – University of Florida



6 out of 10 students ages 9 to 20 reported chronic back pain related to backpacks.

Dr. Foss is a clinical assistant professor and associate chair in the Department of Occupational Therapy in the College of Public Health and Health Professions at University of Florida. At University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions Department of Occupational Therapy, she is also Director of Professional Programs, and Director of the Masters in Occupational Therapy Program. Her research focuses on professional education and training, and pediatric assessment and intervention. Learn more about Dr. Joanne Foss here.

Caregiver Burden – Duane Dede, PhD – University of Florida


Caregiver burden is a variety of physical and emotional, such as depression, anxiety, and fatigue among caregivers.

Dr. Dede is a clinical professor in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions at University of Florida. He is also Co-Director of the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at University of Florida. His research and clinical focus is on neuropsychology, mild traumatic brain injury, adult learning disabilities, and caregiver burden. Learn more about about Dr. Duane Dede here.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) – Susan Astley, PhD – University of Washington


Although we cannot reverse the damage done by alcohol, early diagnosis and intervention to help children with FASD reach their full potential.

Dr. Astley is a Professor in the Department of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health at University of Washington. She is also Director of the Washington State Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnostic and Prevention Network. Her research focuses on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Learn more about Dr. Susan Astley here.