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Grace Iarocci, Ph.D., R. Psych. is the Director of the Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab (ADDL), a Professor of Psychology, and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar. Dr. Iarocci works closely with government and community agencies in BC to disseminate research information on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and influence policy on ASD and other developmental disabilities.
Research Interests: We explore the ways that processes of attention may interfere or facilitate an individual’s ability to engage in a variety of social experiences ranging from detecting information from eyes and faces to interpreting subtle cues from complex social interactions involving several participants.

For more information on Dr. Iarocci, please click here.

Doctoral Students

Mandeep Gurm, M.A., is a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at SFU.

Research Interests: typical and atypical development, individual differences, working with families, anxiety disorders, parent-child interactions

For more information on Mandeep, please click here.


Vanessa Fong, MSc., is a PhD student in the Experimental Developmental program at SFU. She received her BSc from the University of Toronto and completed her MSc at the University of London. 

Research Interests: ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders, executive functioning, quality of life, and evaluating interventions. 

Hilary Aime, M.A.,  is a PhD student in the Clinical Psychology program at SFU. 

Research Interests: ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders, social learning in ASD, socialization of attention, cross-cultural methodology.

For more information on Hilary, please click here.

Masters Students

Madelaine Ressel is a second year Master’s student in the Clinical
Psychology program at SFU. She completed her undergraduate training at the University of Ottawa. She has been interested in autism since childhood as she has brothers with ASD. She has also worked as a respite care provider and in social skills programming for adolescents with autism.
Research Interests:  Working with children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental disabilities as well as histories of trauma, and their families.
Vivienne Mount is a second year Master's student at SFU. She graduated from
the University of Guelph in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Psychology. Her undergraduate thesis examined emotion socialization and learned helplessness in children. She was a volunteer researchassistant in the Child Self-Regulation Lab at Ryerson University
where she contributed to the Integra Mindfulness Martial Arts™ study and the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Families study.
Research Interests: Autism spectrum disorder and the family dynamic.

Honours and Directed Studies Students

Nicole Kauppi is an undergraduate student currently completing her BA (Hons.) degree under the supervision of Dr. Iarocci. Nicole has worked with children with various developmental and physical disabilities as a behaviour interventionist, supported childcare worker, and education assistant.

She developed an interested in neurodevelopmental disorders when her brother was diagnosed with ASD, and has since become a parent of a child on the spectrum. Nicole hopes to continue her study of psychology in graduate school.



Troy Boucher is the Lab Manager for the ADDL and former Honour's student of Dr. Iarocci. 
Research interests: Special interests and social development in youth with ASD, inclusion and inclusive education, anxiety and depression in individuals with ASD, and social attention and perceptual learning.
For more information on Troy, please click here.

Michael MacIsaac is an IT Consultant and Web Developer for the ADDL.


Profile: Michael has been providing computing solutions and web development for the ADDL since January 2010.




 Nichole Scheerer
Nichole Scheerer, Ph.D., is a former postdoctoral fellow at SFU and current BrainsCAN fellow at Western University. She received her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from Wilfrid Laurier University. 
Research Interests: How the brain uses sensory information (e.g., auditory and visual information) during development. More specifically, how differences in the perception of, or attention to, different forms of sensory information may influence development. 

Sarah Hutchison, Ph.D. is the former Lab Manager for the ADDL. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow with the Department of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia.  She is conducting her current research out of the Child and Family Research Institute.

Research Interests: The development of executive function, childhood obesity, autism, and second language learners.


Elina Birmingham, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at SFU. She is a former post-doctoral student of Dr. Iarocci in the psychology program at SFU.  She is the director of the Social Attention Group in Education (SAGE).

Research Interests:  Social attention and perception in typical and atypical development, facial expressions, peer mentorship, technological devices for supporting autistic individuals with auditory hypersensitivity

Lab Website:


Jodi Yager, Ph.D., is a Psychology Consultant. She is a former doctoral student of Dr. Iarocci in the Clinical Psychology program at SFU.

Research Interests: Understanding social competence in children and adolescents with ASD.

  Adrienne Rombough's Photo
Adrienne Rombough, Ph.D., is a Psychology Consultant for Compass Clinic (, doing developmental assessments for Sunny Hill and Monarch House. She is a former doctoral student of Dr. Iarocci in the Clinical Psychology program at SFU.
Research Interests: autism, developmental disorders, social attention, gaze following, social competence, typical and atypical human development, social inclusion and family coping. 
Emily Gardiner, Ph.D., is a former doctoral student of Dr. Iarocci.  She is currently a postdoctoral fellow with BC Children's Hospital and the University of British Columbia Department of Pediatrics.
Research Interests: family quality of life, family-centred practice, cultural sensitivity, executive function, and social developmental processes in children with autism

For more information on Emily, please click here.

Theo Elfers, Ph.D., is a Psychology Consultant. He is a former doctoral student of Dr. Iarocci in the Clinical Psychology program at SFU.

Research Interests: Development of social cognition, identity, and social competence

Kimberly Armstrong, Ph.D., is a Clinical Psychologist with the Westcoast Child Development Group and Spectrum Works Consulting. In her clinical work she conducts ASD assessments and provides therapy to adolescents and adults with ASD. She is a former doctoral student of Dr. Iarocci in the Clinical Psychology program at SFU.
Research Interests: interests in ASD, adults with ASD, visual processing, symptom domains
For more information on Kimberly, please click here.
Allison Brennan, Ph.D., was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Iarocci from 2014 to 2016. 
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Krista Johnston, Ph.D., is a former doctoral student of Dr. Iarocci in the Clinical Psychology program at SFU.

Research Interests: ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders, neurotypical development, mental health in ASD (specifically anxiety and depression), treatment of anxiety in ASD (using modified CBT and group-based approaches), assessment of ASD in the context of epilepsy, the use of technology in intervention, social and emotional functioning and development, and family functioning.
For more information on Krista, please click here.

Former Staff and Students

Gisella La Madrid, M.A. is the former Lab manager for the ADDL. She has experience working with children and families facing disabilities and developmental disorders and is currently opening her own private practice as a child & family counsellor.
Research Interests: Developmental disorders such as ASD, ADHD and FASD, family quality of life, family resilience, and family-centred practice.
For more information on Gisella, please click here.
Reyhane Bakhtiari, M.Sc. is the former Leading Research Assistant for the ADDL.
Research Interests: Positive attitudes towards autism, self/autism awareness in children and adolescents with ASD, comorbid disorders with autism, Learning Disabilities.

Brittni Thompson, BA (Hons) is a former Honour's student of Dr. Iarocci at Simon Fraser University. Throughout her years as an undergrad, she volunteered regularly as a research assistant with the Adolescent Health Lab and the Autism and Developmental Disorder Lab. Brittni also worked for the Burnaby School District as an Education Assistant implementing behaviour interventions and helping children enhance their academic and social skills.

Research Interests: Bi-directional relationships between parent and child behaviour or between siblings and understanding the experience of caregivers of people with developmental disabilities.ASD, education, attachment.

Ariel Cheung is a former Honour's student of Dr. Iarocci at Simon Fraser University. She has volunteered with the ADDL for over two years and has been actively involved with several of our SFU Social Science Camps.
Research Interests: Student's knowledge of ASD, university adjustment for individuals with ASD, social competence, well-being, inclusiveness, and stigma.