Inna Fishman, PhD  |  Email

Dr. Fishman is Associate Research Professor in the SDSU Department of Psychology, Associate Clinical Director of the Brain Development Imaging Labs, and Director of SCANgroup. She is also an affiliate member of the SDSU Center for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN). Dr. Fishman is a clinical neuropsychologist, with background and training in cognitive, developmental and social neuroscience. She uses multimodal neuroimaging techniques (EEG, ERPs, and MRI, including functional and diffusion MRI) to examine brain mechanisms and circuits underlying human social behavior. She aims at understanding how variations in brain activity or organization are translated into overt patterns of social behavior. Currently, Dr. Fishman’s focus is on understanding how behavioral difficulties in social domain (such as these in ASDs) map to atypical brain circuits, and when the organization and function of these circuits diverge from the patterns observed in typical development.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Mikaela Kinnear, PhD  |  Email

Mikaela is a clinical psychologist and developmental neuroscientist. She received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from University of Colorado, Boulder where her dissertation focused on understanding social functioning in adolescents and young adults with ADHD. She competed a postdoctoral fellowship at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego, working on studies examining novel assessment and intervention techniques for children and adults with ASDs. Mikaela joined SCANgroup in January 2016 to pursue her research interests in understanding the mechanisms underlying social communication challenges across the lifespan in individuals with ASDs and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Annika Linke, PhD  |  Email

Annika received her doctorate in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Cambridge in England and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Brain and Mind Institute, Western University in Canada. Her main interest is understanding how brain function changes over the course of development, and how it is altered in neurodevelopmental disorders. She has worked with neonates, infants, children and adults employing advanced fMRI methods, and joined SCANgroup in January 2016 to study how changes in functional network organization relate to the early behavioral symptoms observed in toddlers diagnosed with autism.

Graduate Students

Lindsay Olson  |  Email

Lindsay is a PhD student in the Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at SDSU and UC San Diego. She received her BA in Psychology from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington where she studied the effects of socio-economic status on adolescent identity development. After graduating, she studied pragmatic language use in children with ASDs as a research assistant at Oregon Health & Science University. Lindsay completed a pre-doctoral research fellowship at the Marcus Autism Center at Emory University where she used eye-tracking to study early social development in infants at heightened familial risk for developing ASDs. She is interested in early social and brain development and how experiences influence the course of brain development.

Bosi Chen  |  Email

Bosi is a PhD student in the Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at SDSU and UC San Diego. After graduating from New York University with B.A. in Psychology and Economics, Bosi worked as a Research Associate at the NYU Child Study Center to study neural mechanisms underlying autism and ADHD in children and adolescents. Currently, Bosi is jointly working with our lab and with Dr. Marty Sereno, Director of SDSU Imaging Center. Her current research interests include neural correlates of restricted and repetitive behaviors, a core symptom of autism.

Tiffany Wang  |  Email

Tiffany is a PhD student in the Psychology department at UC San Diego (UCSD). After graduating from UCSD with a B.A/B.S in psychology and biology, she worked with Dr. Aubyn Stahmer at the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center on ways to deliver evidence-based practices into community settings. Currently, Tiffany is jointly working with our lab, as well as with Dr. Leslie Carver’s Developmental Neuroscience Lab at UCSD. She is interested in identifying biological or behavioral markers in infants and toddlers at risk for autism.

Cynthia Ibarra  |  Email

Cynthia is a master’s student in Psychology at SDSU. She graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a B.S. in Psychology. As an undergrad, she investigated the role of interactive media and individual differences in children’s cognitive development. She is interested in examining the neural mechanisms underlying social processes in children with ASD.

Undergraduate Students and Research Assistants

Juliana Lucena  |  Email

Juliana is an undergraduate student at the University of San Diego, majoring in Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in Biomedical Ethics. She joined SCANgroup in February 2018 and is currently working on the Toddler MRI study. In the future, she hopes to pursue a postdoctoral degree in Clinical Psychology and work with children with behavioral disorders.

Research Staff

Vinton Omaleki, MPH  |  Email

Vinton is a recent graduate of SDSU’s Masters of Public Health program in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science. Specializing in Community Engagement, Vinton is helping us build trust and partnerships between SCANgroup and the many communities throughout San Diego County and beyond. He also focuses on increasing local and regional awareness of our research by building collaborative relationships with San Diego educational and medical organizations..

Chris Fong, M.A.  |  Email

Chris received his B.S. in Psychology from University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and has completed Masters Thesis in psychology at SDSU. In his thesis project Chris examined functional brain network development in children with ASDs. He is currently working on completing several manuscripts and is assisting with many aspects of the Toddler Project, including night scans. Chris’ research interests lie in the intersection between neuropsychology and neuroimaging throughout lifespan.

Sarah Reynolds  |  Email

Sarah graduated from University of San Diego in May 2017, where she obtained a B.A. in Behavioral Neuroscience and held various leadership roles in Psychology Club, Mortar Board, Active Minds and Climbing Team. Sarah coordinates many aspects of the data management for the Toddler Project, and frequently assists with night scans. She plans to pursue a career in integrative health psychology and outdoor therapy.


Nikki Velasco  |  Email

Nikki worked on the Toddler Project as a Rady Children’s Hospital’s liaison after she graduated from UC San Diego. Nikki was instrumental in communicating with the families of young children diagnosed with ASDs and recruiting them into our study. Nikki has moved to the LA area to be closer to her family.

Shadia Assi, MPH  |  Email

Shadia was SCANgroup’s Community Outreach Coordinator. A graduate of the SDSU’s Master of Public Health program, with an emphasis in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science, Shadia focused on increasing local and regional awareness of our research by building collaborative relationships with educational and medical organizations, and community at large. Shadia was instrumental in communicating with many our community partners and building new partnerships and collaborations.

Elly Pueschel  |  Email

Elly was an undergraduate student at SDSU majoring in psychology and minoring in statistics and interdisciplinary studies. Elly was awarded an Autism Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Fellowship in 2017 and was an IMSD scholar. She completed an Honors Thesis project focusing on sensory processing abnormalities in toddlers with ASDs. Currently, Elly is working on her doctorate in Developmental Psychology at USC.

Natalia Witkowska  |  Email

Natalia completed an Honors Thesis project with us when she was an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology at SDSU. Using the Toddler MRI Project data, Natalia identified presence of affective symptoms, including elevated emotional reactivity and internalizing symptoms, in toddlers with ASDs. These symptoms were associated with core autism symptoms and greater delays in expressive language. At present, Natalia is working on her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Cal Lutheran.

Julianna MazziottiEmail

As an undergraduate student in the Department of Psychological Sciences at University of San Diego (USD), Julianna was assisting with many aspects of the Toddler MRI Project in Spring 2017. She has moved to Portland to be closer to her family.