Leadership Autism | Rehabilitation Institute | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Education and Human Services


Ruth Anne Rehfeldt, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Director  bio

Valerie Boyer, Ph.D., BCBA-D  bio

Mark R. Dixon, Ph.D., BCBA-D  bio

Erica Jowett Hirst, Ph.D., BCBA-D  bio

Michael May, Ph.D., BCBA-D  cv

Affiliated Faculty

Venkata Ambati, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology. Dr. Ambati specializes in Biomechanics. He is mainly interested in understanding the role of vision in the mechanics of walking and turning in both healthy individuals and clinical groups.  Dr. Ambati completed a post-doctoral experience that focused upon motor behavior in young children with autism spectrum disorder.

Phil Jensik, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the department of physiology at SIUC’s school of medicine. His research interests include Neurodevelopmental disorders including autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and intellectual disabilities and the mutations in specific genes can cause intellectual disabilities and have also been linked to ASD. His laboratory studies the transcription factor deformed epidermal autoregulatory factor 1 (DEAF1) gene as mutations in the DEAF1 gene cause intellectual disabilities and a high percentage of these individuals also have ASD. His lab studies the mechanism by which Mutant DEAF1 proteins cause intellectual disabilities using a combination of combination of genetically modified mice and molecular and cellular approaches.

Michelle Kibby, Ph.D. is an associate professor of clinical psychology and brain & cognitive sciences. She has two lines of research. One entails investigation of children with dyslexia and/or ADHD from a neuropsychological perspective. The other entails examination of differences in brain morphology and function between typically developing children and those with dyslexia or ADHD using structural MRI and ERP. Dr. Kibby has published research articles in journals such as Brain and Language, Cortex, Child Neuropsychology, Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, Journal of Child Neurology, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Clinical Psychology Review, Brain Injury, Developmental Neuropsychology, and Frontiers in Psychology.

Diana Sarko, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy within the SIU School of Medicine. She specializes in Neuroscience, and has interests in sensory processing. Dr. Sarko conducts research focused upon understanding sensory processing and sensory sensitivity in individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Taeho Yoh, Ph.D. is a Professor of Sport Management and Program Director for Sport Administration. His primary interests lie in various aspects of sport marketing, particularly in corporate social responsibility and sport consumer behavior. Dr. Yoh has also conducted research with students with physical disabilities to examine their satisfaction with campus recreation facilities and recreational physical activity programs.