Understanding Autism

Researchers

Peter Bearman, PhD

Peter BearmanPeter Bearman is the Director of the Lazarsfeld Center for the Social Sciences, the Cole Professor of Social Science, and Co-Director of the Health & Society Scholars Program. He was the founding director of ISERP, serving from the Institute's launch in 2000 until 2008. A recipient of the NIH Director's Pioneer Award in 2007, Bearman is currently investigating the autism epidemic.

A specialist in network analysis, he co-designed the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and has used the data extensively for research on topics including adolescent sexual networks, networks of disease transmission, and genetic influences on same-sex preference. He has also conducted research in historical sociology, including Relations into Rhetorics: Local Elite Social Structure in Norfolk, England, 1540-1640 (Rutgers, 1993). He is the author of Doormen (University of Chicago Press, 2005).

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Keely Cheslack-Postava, PhD

Keely Cheslack-PostavaKeely Cheslack-Postava's research interests focus on neurodevelopmental impacts of early life exposures. She earned a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University in 2008 where her dissertation research examined the relationships between neonatal levels of nervous system and thyroid autoantibodies, ambient levels of environmental pollutants, and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. Following a fellowship with the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars at Columbia University, her current work with the Understanding Autism project is aimed at untangling the effects of birth order and interval on autism risk and testing mechanistic hypotheses stemming from these observations.

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Christine Fountain, PhD

Christine Fountain Christine Fountain is a post-doctoral research scholar at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy. In her current work, she examines heterogeneity in the longitudinal trajectories of autism symptom expression, the effect of immigration policy on autism diagnosis among Latinos and trends in age of diagnosis for autism. She is also interested in the spread of autism diagnoses through social networks. In her earlier work, she has studied the impact of social networks on job searching and hiring, with particular interest in segregation and inequality. She has previously held the position of Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. She received her BA from Wellesley College and her PhD from the University of Washington.

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Emeritus Researchers

Alexandra Brewer, BA

Alexandra Brewer was a Research Assistant at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University. She worked on the Autism Life Histories Survey. She received her BA from Barnard College and is pursuing a PhD in Sociology at The University of Chicago.

Diana Dakhlallah, BA

Diana Dakhlallah Diana was a research staff at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University. She worked on the demographic and behavioral changes associated with increasing autism prevalence and on the temporal dynamics underlying the increase in autism prevalence in the past two decades.Diana is pursuing a PhD in Sociology at Stanford University.

Marissa King, PhD

Marissa King Marissa King was a post-doctoral research scholar at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy. Her work on autism focused on the contribution of diagnosis, diffusion and substitution to rising prevalence rates. She has also done work at the intersection of social movements and organizational behavior. She received her BA from Reed College and her PhD from Columbia University. Her research appears in journals such as American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, and Administrative Science Quarterly. Marissa is an Assistant Professor at Yale's School of Management.

Soumya Mazumdar, MPh, PhD

Soumya MazumdarSoumya Mazumdar is a medical geographer with an interest in the study of drivers of local variations of chronic diseases. As a post-doctoral research scholar at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, he analyzed the spatial clustering of autism and other spatial and temporal aspects of the epidemiology of autism. In his earlier work, he has researched aspects of diagnostic expansion of chronic diseases and the quality of geographic data. He has degrees in Geophysics, Geographical Information Systems, and Public Health. Soumya is a Research Fellow at the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute.

Personal website: soumya.

Alix Winter, BA

Alix WinterAlix Winter was a Research Assistant at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University. She studied the developmental trajectories of children with autism and examined the incidence of autism in recent years. Alix received her BA in Health and Societies from the University of Pennsylvania and is pursuing a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy at Harvard University.

Noam Zerubavel, BA

Noam Zerubavel was a research staff at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University. Noam's research focused on analyzing spatial and temporal patterns associated with autism. He researched spatial clusters of high autism prevalence, demographic shifts associated with epigenetic mutations linked to autism, as well as the public health consequences of vaccine exemptions.Noam is pursuing a PhD in Psychology at Columbia University.

Katherine M Keyes, MPh, PhD

Katherine KeyesKatherine M. Keyes currently serves as the Columbia University Epidemiology Merit Fellow. She received her doctorate in Epidemiology from Columbia University in June of 2010, after completion of her MPH degree in 2006. Katherine's work focuses on age, period, and cohort effects in the incidence of autism diagnoses. Katherine's prior research has focused on the epidemiology of alcohol and drug problems in both adults and adolescents, with empirical research documenting a narrowing gender gap in the prevalence and course of alcohol abuse and dependence over time. She has also examined methodological issues in age-period-cohort effect estimation for common health outcomes, including obesity, breast cancer, and substance disorders. Her work has highlighted and extended several existing age-period-cohort methods, most notably including the median polish method and multi-level modeling for age-period-cohort research questions.

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Ka-Yuet Liu, PhD

Ka-Yuet Liu Ka-Yuet Liu is a sociologist studying the diffusion of behaviors and non-contagious diseases. Her doctorate research, conducted at the University of Oxford, focused on the effects of social interactions on suicide. Currently she is a post-doctoral research scholar at Columbia University and her work centers on the social diffusion of autism. Her broader research interests include models of social interaction processes and network analysis.

Personal website: kayuet.

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