A man stands behind a wooden podium and in front of a wood-paneled wall. to his right is a large screen with a PowerPoint presentation projected

UC Davis MIND Institute announces Distinguished Lecturer Series lineup

Speakers will present on autism research, maternal mental health, personalized medicine, ADHD interventions and more

This story has been updated to reflect a change in the series lineup. The lecture by Jonathan Posner of Duke University, originally scheduled for December, has been rescheduled to Feb. 21, 2024. There will be no December event. 


The UC Davis MIND Institute’s popular Distinguished Lecturer Series returns next month with a stellar lineup of experts who will discuss a variety of topics including research, interventions and social issues surrounding autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and more.

“We have an all-star group of speakers this season,” said Cyndi Schumann, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences who organizes the series. “These are world-renowned, innovative thinkers doing leading-edge research and work in the community to improve lives.”

Seven experts will give insightful lectures as part of the long-running, free series that runs from October to June each year.

The series kicks off on Oct. 11, with a talk by outgoing MIND Institute Director Leonard Abbeduto. His lecture, “Rethinking Treatment Studies in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities: Insights from 12 Years at the MIND Institute,” will include a call for more equity in research.

Cyndi Schumann
We have an all-star group of speakers this season. These are world-renowned, innovative thinkers doing leading-edge research and work in the community to improve lives.” Cyndi Schumann, professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Camille Proctor, founder of The Color of Autism Foundation, an organization dedicated to serving people of color affected by autism, will talk about culturally grounded parent training and care. John Strang, of Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., will give a talk focused on the intersection of gender diversity and autism.

Other topics will include maternal mental health, personalized medicine and proven ADHD interventions being tested in schools.

“We will be covering an impressive variety of relevant, timely topics this season. I am excited for each and every speaker,” Schumann said. “We value this opportunity to share the work and wisdom of some of the foremost experts in the field with researchers, clinicians and the community. All are welcome! This series is really unique in that regard.”

All talks are held at the UC Davis MIND Institute at 2825 50th St. in Sacramento and start at 4:30 p.m. No registration is required. Admission is free and seating is first come, first served. Refreshments are also offered.

Science MINDS podcast allows experts to share personal side

In addition to their lecture, speakers also record a video podcast at the MIND Institute that focuses more on their own personal story. The series is hosted by postdoctoral scholar Andrew Dakopolos, a researcher and former schoolteacher with a Ph.D. in autism and intellectual disability.

“My goal with Science MINDS is to allow us to learn more about the human side of these scientists,” Dakopolos explained. “I want to move beyond academia and have a casual conversation where we just get to know the person behind the science.”

More than a dozen Science MINDS episodes can be found on the MIND Institute’s YouTube channel, including previous Distinguished Lecturer Series speakers and current MIND Institute faculty.

“I always felt like there aren’t good ways to access the really interesting parts of who researchers are, and the things that make them, and consequently, their science, special. This is my attempt at providing a space for that,” Dakopolos said.

The complete list of Distinguished Lecturer Series speakers:

Leonard Abbeduto
Oct. 11, 2023

Leonard Abbeduto, Ph.D.

UC Davis MIND Institute
Rethinking Treatment Studies in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities:
Insights from 12 years at the MIND Institute
Camille Proctor
Nov. 8, 2023

Camille Proctor

The Color of Autism Foundation
A Culturally Grounded Approach to Parent Training
Jonathan Posner
Feb. 21, 2024

Jonathan Posner, M.D.

Duke University
Navigating Maternal Mental Health:
Antidepressants, Pregnancy, and Neurodevelopment
John Strang
March 13, 2024

John Strang, Psy.D.

Children's National Hospital
The Common Intersection of Gender Diversity and Autism:
Listening to Autistic People About Gender
Shafali Jeste
April 10, 2024

Shafali Jeste, M.D.

Children's Hospital, Los Angeles
Baby Steps to Breakthroughs in Personalized Medicine for Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
Linda Pfiffner
May 8, 2024

Linda Pfiffner, Ph.D.

University of California, San Francisco
ADHD: Extending Evidence-Based Treatments From Clinics to Schools

The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif. is a unique, interdisciplinary research, clinical, and education center committed to deepening scientific understanding of autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions. It is a highly collaborative center, bringing together families, researchers, clinicians, community leaders and volunteers with the common goal of developing more personalized, equitable, and scientifically proven systems of support and intervention. The institute has major research efforts in autism, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations in this series, is available on the Web at mindinstitute.ucdavis.edu.