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The Carolina Autism and Neurodevelopment (CAN) Research Center at USC brings together an interdisciplinary group of faculty, trainees, and staff from across campus to collaborate and advance research in the fields of autism and neurodevelopment. 

Meet our leadership team!

Founding Directors

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Dr. Jane Roberts, Psychology

Dr. Roberts is a  Carolina Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology. Her work focuses on understanding the biological mechanisms that underlie cognitive and behavioral functioning in children and adults with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, fragile X syndrome, and ADHD.

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Dr. Jeff Twiss, Biological Sciences

Dr. Twiss  is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, SmartState Chair in Childhood Neurotherapeutics, and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies. The Twiss lab uses molecular and cellular biology approaches to understand how neurons develop and function. They are particularly interested in how post-transcriptional regulation impacts neuron growth, focusing on subcellular mRNA translation and RNA dynamics in neurons.

Steering Director

Dr. Caitlin Hudac

Dr. Caitlin Hudac

Associate Professor in Psychology

Dr. Hudac's research focuses on brain development in infants, children, and adults with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) and with a genetic mutation linked to  NDDs.  She uses multiple techniques (EEG, ERP, eye tracking, fMRI) to target the underlying biology associated with social attention and cognition. 

Executive Committee

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Dr. Jessica Bradshaw

Associate Professor in Psychology

Dr. Bradshaw’s research focuses on early identification of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the first years of life, including: 1) quantifying the emergence of, and interrelations between, social behavior, visual attention, and motor skills in neonates, infants, and toddlers, 2) identifying aberrant neurodevelopmental pathways that lead to the emergence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and 3) translating these basic findings to early detection and intervention strategies for ASD.

Kristy Welshhans smiling

Dr. Kristy Welshhans

Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences

Dr. Welshhans’ research focuses on molecular mechanisms in the brain that regulate the formation of nervous system connectivity during development. Using both mouse and human cellular models, her lab aims to identify how changes in these mechanisms may contribute to Down syndrome and the intellectual disability phenotype.

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Dr. Daniel Foster

Assistant Professor in Pharmacolgy, Physiology and Neuroscience

Dr. Foster’s research is focused on understanding how specific neuronal circuits regulate repetitive behaviors and habitual behaviors in rodents with the goal of identifying novel therapeutic strategies for treating symptoms observed in numerous disorders including autism spectrum disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

Abigail Hogan smiling

Dr. Abigail Hogan

Assistant Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Dr. Hogan's research focuses on social communication in neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., autism spectrum disorder, fragile X syndrome), with an emphasis on factors that contribute to social communication development in young children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Hogan is especially interested in understanding the relationship between physiological regulation, anxiety symptoms, and social communication difficulties in young children.


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