Dr. Abbeduto's research at the UC Davis MIND Institute focuses on the development of language across the lifespan in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. His current projects focus on the factors accounting for variation in the course of language in children, adolescents, and young adults with fragile X syndrome, autism, or Down syndrome. These projects seek to identify the behavioral, biological, and environmental influences that shape language in these conditions. Other projects focus on the development of methods to optimize language development through parent-mediated interventions and the role of telehealth technology in the delivery of these interventions. Dr. Abbeduto's research has been funded virtually continuously by the National Institutes of Health since 1984. He is the editor of the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, which is the flagship journal of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Abbeduto is also Director of the NIH-funded Interdisciplinary Training Conference on Developmental Disabilities, which is designed to foster an interdisciplinary approach to research on neurodevelopmental disorders in the next generation of scientists.
Dr. Thurman's research at the UC Davis MIND Institute focuses on characterizing the dynamic processes underlying the development of language and other skills in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome and Williams syndrome. Because development stems from a continuous interplay of multiple influences across time, unpacking the influences of the behavioral phenotypes (areas of strength and challenge) in neurodevelopmental disorders provides insight into the factors supporting and impeding development and how this differs across neurodevelopmental disorders.
Dr. Thurman's current projects are focused on characterizing developmental similarities and differences across different neurodevelopmental disorders and identifying the factors influencing child development. She is also interested in the development and validation of new methods for measuring cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skills across the lifespan in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. The long-range goal is that this work will help identify the extent to which similar and/or different processes should be targeted in intervention efforts across neurodevelopmental disorders.
Nadia Abdelnur, B.A.
Nadia Abdelnur is a junior specialist for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She received her Bachelor's in Psychology with a minor in Counseling and Social Change from San Diego State University in 2018.
Lauren Bullard, Ph.D.
Dr. Bullard received her doctoral degree in Human Development from the University of California, Davis and is currently a postdoctoral scholar for the Laboratory on Language Development. Her research focuses on how parent-child interactions support child language development, understanding and supporting family well-being, and the remote delivery of parent-implemented interventions to support youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families. Her research also addresses how telehealth procedures can be adopted to address known disparities in participating in research and accessing clinical services.
Nancy Castignetti, M.Ed., M.S.
Nancy Castignetti received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University Chicago, Master of Education degree from Marquette University, and Master of Science degree in Communicative Disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a Speech-Language Pathologist, her special interest lies in pediatric language disorders.
Laura del Hoyo Soriano, Ph.D.
Dr. Laura del Hoyo Soriano is a neuropsychologist who received her doctorate from the Department of Pharmacology at the Autonomous University of Medicine in Barcelona, Spain. Her research focuses in investigating potential factors contributing to the cognitive and behavioral variability in Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Joining the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders has been her starting point for her long-term research goal of expanding to other neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, study cross-syndrome differences in the development of language cognition and behavior, and the role that biological and family-related factors play in these trajectories.
Andrea Drayton, B.S.
Andrea Drayton is a transcriber for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She received her Bachelor’s in Cognitive Science with a minor in Psychology from UC Merced in 2015. She is interested in Speech-Language Pathology, and plans to pursue a Master’s degree in the field.
Robyn Tempero Feigles, B.A.
Robyn Tempero Feigles received her Bachelor's degree in Human Development from UC Davis in 2006. She is currently pursuing a second Bachelor's degree in Communicative Disorders from Utah State University. Robyn has previously worked on the Early Steps Study delivering early intervention therapy to toddlers with autism and will now be working in the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders administering study assessments.
Leona Kelly, B.A.
Leona Kelly is a research assistant for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She graduated from UC Davis in June of 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology, Human Development, and Anthropology. Leona plans to earn her Master’s Degree in Family Therapy.
Sarah Nelson, B.S., M.S.
Graduate Student Researcher
Sarah Nelson is a graduate student researcher in the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Sarah received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012, where she also completed her Master of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2014. She is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Human Development at the University of California-Davis.
Vivian Nguyen, M.A.
Vivian Nguyen is a Clinical Specialist for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders and the Autism Phenome Project at the MIND Institute. For the past 10 years, Vivian has worked with children with ASD and other developmental disorders in the schools, homes, and community settings. She received her Masters of Arts degree in Educational Psychology at California State University, Long Beach and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.
Taylor Wood, B.A.
Taylor Wood is a Junior Specialist for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Cognitive Science from UC Davis in 2018.
Caitlyn Wong, B.S.
Caitlyn Wong is a research assistant for the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology & Audiology from California State University (CSU) Sacramento in 2013. Caitlyn has previously worked as a transcriber in the lab from 2013-2016. She received her Master of Science degree in Speech Language Pathology from CSU Sacramento in 2016.