The Team

Lab Director – Ruth Grossman

ruth grossman headshot

Dr. Grossman is professor at Emerson College where she teaches graduate and undergraduate classes in the department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.  Her research is focused on various aspects of face-to-face communication in autistic and neurotypical individuals within the framework of double-empathy. This framework aims to shift the focus from a medical to a social model of autism and emphasizes that miscommunications in daily social interactions are caused by reciprocal and mutual misunderstandings between neurodivergent and neurotypical communication partners that we need to understand better. 

See her publications.

Read Her CV.

Find Out More About Dr. Grossman.


Current Lab Members


Thuy Buonocore – FACE Lab Research Coordinator  
Thuy earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at UCLA, and Master’s degree in Counseling and Guidance at NYU. She is currently recruiting participants for the in-person FACE lab studies. Outside of the lab, Thuy is a wedding and family photographer serving the New England area.



Cai Conners – Graduate Student
Cai is a graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology at Emerson College. They completed their undergraduate bachelor’s degree with a  Communication Sciences and Disorders major and a Health and Society minor at Emerson College. They have been interested in research their whole life and have assisted in multiple labs on campus. They hope to continue to specialize in the intersection of neurodiversity, gender diversity, and social communication.


Devine BaumanUndergraduate Student
Devine is an undergraduate senior at Harvard University studying Sociology with a citation in French. They are working at FACE Lab to gain hands-on research experience in an area that combines their interests in the social sciences, behavior, and intersectionality. While working at FACE Lab, she is also completing her senior thesis that analyzes how plus sized femmes’ body image develops and changes throughout their lives and what the causes and consequences of those value judgments are. Devine hopes to continue pursuing research in similar reals of identity and body image, perhaps through a PhD, after graduating this spring.


Emma Busz – Graduate Student
Emma completed her B.S. in Psychology at North Park University in 2020, and is currently a CSD graduate student at Emerson College. She is interested in working with autism and neurodiversity as a speech therapist and is excited to gain research lab experience.


Mowa Badmos – Graduate Student

Mowa is a second year student studying Communication Disorders at Emerson College. In her undergrad, Mowa studied Psychology at Oberlin College in Ohio. She has always been passionate and interested in research and has assisted in multiple labs throughout her academic career.



Paul Palmer – Undergraduate Student
Paul is a sophomore undergraduate student at Harvard University, majoring in Social Studies with minors in French as well as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. He is interested in focusing on intersectionality and how individuals with multiple marginalized identities navigate society.


Rose Abraham – Undergraduate Student

Rose is an undergraduate student at Brandeis Studying biology. She is working at the FACElab to learn more and gain experience in ASD research. She is passionate about research and hopes to further pursue ASD and psychology research in the future!




Sarah Naticchia – Undergraduate Student

Sarah is an undergraduate student at Harvard studying neuroscience and psychology. She is working at the FACE Lab to gain experience in ASD research and knowledge regarding neurodiversity. She has a particular interest in the prevalence of neurodiversity in endurance athletics and is hoping to use her experience in the FACE Lab to pursue this question.



Sara Berliner – Graduate Student
Sara is a graduate student at Emerson College studying Theatre Education & Applied Theatre. She is interested in the intersection of cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, and theatre education. In particular, she is curious about how quantitative and qualitative research can be conducted on the impacts of arts experiences.



Stella StraubHigh School Student

Stella is a high school student at Manchester Essex Regional High School. She is working in the FACE Lab to gain hands-on experience in a research facility and further her understanding of neuroscience and speech and communication disorders in people with ASD. In the future, she hopes to be involved in lab research in college.



Tori Lajous – Undergraduate Student

Tori is an undergraduate student at Brandeis University studying neuroscience, psychology, and health policy.   She hopes to get her Ph.D. in neuropsychology and conduct research on how and why autism presentation tends to differ by gender.  Outside of the lab, Tori enjoys reading, crocheting, and spending time with her baby nephew.


Elana Groves– Research Assistant

Elana Graduated from Northeastern University in December of 2023. Elana Majored in Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in the Health Sciences. After working as a Behavioral Technician for two years, Elana works at the FACE Lab to continue learning about the intersection of ASD, communication, and identity formation. She hopes to become a Child Psychiatrist and better the standard of care each child receives.



Lab Alumni

Ella Dixon  FACE Lab Research Assistant 

Ella studied Education with Psychology at the University of Bath in England. She worked at the FACE Lab as a part of her degree hoping to gain some experience in ASD research. She hopes to get her masters in Speech and Language Pathology, as her main interest is how people communicate in different ways. She was an international student from Hong Kong and this was her first time America!


Lior Jokel – Graduate Student 

Lior studied Communication Disorders at Emerson College. In her undergrad, Lior studied communication disorders at Ono academic college in Israel.  Research has been her passion since her undergraduate degree, and she wanted to get experience in Autism research. She is an international student from Israel who came to study to be a Speech and Language Pathologist and gain experience working with children and adults with ASD.


Vivian Nguyen – Undergraduate Student
Vivian studied Communication Disorders at Emerson College. She minored in History and Sports communication, and was involved with Emerson Fashion Society as well as Sigma Pi Theta on campus. Vivian plans to go to graduate school for Speech Language Pathology in order to become a speech pathologist.

Ruth Ashley – FACE Lab Research Assistant 

Ruth studied Education with Psychology at the University of Bath in England. She is worked in the FACE Lab for a year as part of her degree with the goal of completing a Masters and PhD. She is particularly interested in the relationship between language development and autism.

Millie Smith – FACE Lab Research Assistant

Millie studied Psychology at the University of Bath in England. She worked in the FACE Lab for a year as part of her degree, building on the skills she learnt from her previous research experiences. She hopes to use what she has learnt at the FACE Lab to work towards a Masters in Psychology.


Sarah LaFontaineGraduate Student 

Sarah received her undergraduate degree in Speech Language Pathology at Ithaca College in 2020. She is currently at Emerson for her Master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a special interest in injuries and strokes.


Urvisha Shethia – Graduate Student 

Urvisha completed her B.S in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology from India in 2019. She has clinical experience in working with children with Autism and has a special interest in understanding the nuances of their social communication. She is currently working towards her Master’s in Communication Science and Disorders.

Ashlyn Murphy – Graduate Student 

Ashlyn received her undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of New Hampshire in 2021. She is currently at Emerson for her Master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She has clinical experience working with children and has a special interest in Autism.

Lauren Powell – FACE Lab Research Assistant 

Lauren received her B.S. in Cognitive Neuroscience from Michigan State University in May of 2020. At Michigan State, she worked on a number of research studies involving stuttering, prenatal stress, and early human development. She is currently a part of Emerson’s Master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders program.


Julia Mertens – FACE Lab Research Assistant  

Julia joined the FACE Lab in June 2015 after receiving her Bachelor of Science from the University of Connecticut in Cognitive Science and Psychology. Her previous projects include transcribing the speech of children with autism spectrum disorder and designing computational models of spoken word recognition.



Emily Zane – Postdoctoral Research Associate

Emily received her PhD in linguistics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). Her thesis explores the neural mechanisms involved in processing spatial language and the interaction of visual-spatial information during this process. She is particularly interested in how the brains of children with and without autism develop as they acquire language.

549175_10201099319941715_2125594189_nAnna Zembo – Undergraduate Student

Anna is a senior in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department at Emerson College and plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. Her special interest in children with autism led her to the FACE Lab, where she has been volunteering since January 2014. In addition to an interest in autism research, her personal passion for dance has inspired a focused interest in the field of performing arts therapies and autism.

Natalie Fenske – IMG_3851Undergraduate Student

Natalie graduated from Emerson College with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders in May 2016 with a minor in Hearing and Deafness. Natalie knows both Spanish and American Sign Language, and hopes to use both in her career working with people with autism and acquired neurological disorders.


12115580_10156164848355710_8637745204064203523_nKiran KhalaniGraduate Assistant 

Kiran worked as a Speech Language Pathologist in India before deciding to move all the way to Boston to come to Emerson! She worked as the FACE Lab participant liaison.


Kelly Mcclintock – Graduate Student

Kelly received her undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona in 2008. She worked for several years in education and technology before enrolling in the Speech Language Pathology graduate program at Emerson College in 2015. She looks forward to growing as a clinician, learning about autism, and working to help others.

10505583_10102475213539054_450717659943898649_nAimee Garciano – Graduate Student

Aimee received an undergraduate degree in Biology from University of California, San Diego in 2010, and was matriculated into the Science of Communication Disorders Master’s program at Emerson in 2015. She intends on becoming a Speech Language Pathologist.



Margaret Griesmer – Graduate Assistant

Margaret’s interest in social communication and autism in particular lead her to join the Face Lab as a Graduate Assistant in the Fall of 2015. She previously worked in the S2S and WoRD Labs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Margaret received her Masters of Science in Communication Disorders in 2017.

Alexandra Nikolaidis10402386_10206175080205503_5506801186764562405_nUndergraduate Student

Alexandra majored in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Emerson College. She has clinical experience with children with autism, Deaf individuals, and people learning English as a Second Language. She is particularly interested in eye tracking.

1965072_10152873695727518_44458231357090827_nAmy Schapiro Undergraduate Student

At Emerson College, Amy majored in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Her interests are in autism, aphasia, and traumatic brain injuries. Additionally, she worked on research involving asking for information in children with autism.



10981511_10153292628519486_6385662289660072811_nKayla NeumeyerGraduate Assistant

Kayla Neumeyer received her BA in Cognitive Science from Vassar College, where participated in research surrounding categorical perception. Her interests include embodied cognition, interpersonal understanding, autism, speech-language pathology, disability rights, and competition cooking shows.


Diana FrenzeUndergraduate Student

Diana graduated from the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department at Emerson College and plans to pursue a degree in Speech Language Pathology. She minored in psychology and wanted to learn more about autism in the FACE Lab. She is particularly interested in facial expressions and eye-tracking.


graceGrace Connolly  – Graduate Student

Grace received her undergraduate degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders in 2014 from Saint Mary’s College and is a graduate student at Emerson College. Prior to joining the FACElab, she was a research assistant at the F.U.N. Lab, a lab interested in how individuals with autism spectrum disorder understand language. Grace will receive her Masters of Science in Communication Disorders in 2016, and plans to become a Speech Language Pathologist.

Sarah Lovell – SarahLovell_picB.S. Endicott College

Sarah was our Research Assistant from 2013 – 2015, helping to build the lab from the ground up.  Sarah received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Spanish from Endicott College in 2013, where she worked in placebo and embodied cognition research. She previously worked as an ABA therapist with young children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. In the fall of 2015, Sarah began a Master’s in Social Work at Boston University. 


Aaron Shield – IBP_4027-(ZF-8963-21267-1-002)B.A. Wesleyan University, M.A. University of Texas at Austin, Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin

Aaron Shield was a postdoctoral research associate at the FACE Lab from 2014-2015. Prior to coming to Emerson, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Autism Research Excellence at Boston University and in the Psychology Department at the University of Chicago. An expert in autism spectrum disorders in deaf children, he has published peer-reviewed articles in the Journal of Communication Disorders, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Cognition, and Seminars in Speech and Language. Aaron joined the faculty of Miami University of Ohio in fall 2015 as an Assistant Professor of Speech Pathology and Audiology. 


Sandra Buck – Sandy_buckB.S. Dickinson College, M.S., Communication Disorders, Emerson College ’15

Sandra received her undergraduate degree in Biology and Neuroscience in 2012 from Dickinson College, where she participated in research on learning and behavior. In 2015, Sandy was awarded a Masters of Science degree from Emerson College in Communication Disorders. As part of her Masters, she completed a thesis examining the effect of partial face motion on interpreting emotions from animated and human faces. 


Marlee Galper – Marlee_GalperB.S., Communication Disorders, Emerson College ’15

Marlee was awarded the Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders at Emerson College in 2015. Previously, she participated in a teen performing arts program, The Miracle Project, for children with Autism. Her interest in autism and communication eagerly brought her to the FACE Lab. 

Rebecca Baker – 1236573_10201454189171012_546851507_nB.S., Communication Disorders, Emerson College ’15

In 2015, Rebecca was awarded the Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders from Emerson College with a minor in Health Communications and Psychology. Since graduating from Emerson she has moved back home to Los Angeles and plans to get her master’s degree in clinical social work. 

Darren Hedley –  darrenB. Psych, Ph.D., Flinders University

Dr. Hedley was a postdoctoral research associate at the FACE Lab from 2013-2014, and is currently a Research Fellow at the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) at LaTrobe University in Melbourne, Australia, where he works on the transition to employment of adults with an ASD, focusing on social impact of the transitional process and the factors related to a successful transition. Prior to joining the FACE Lab, Dr. Hedley was a postdoctoral fellow in Clinical Pediatric Psychology at the Ohio State University/Nationwide Children’s Hospital Child Development Center, where he specialized in assessment and diagnosis of children with intellectual and developmental disability, including ASD.