The Team

Lab Director – Ruth Grossman

ruth grossman headshot

Dr. Grossman is associate 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 children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). She is specifically interested in how children with ASD integrate and produce verbal and nonverbal information, such as facial expressions and prosody.  Dr. Grossman’s work has been published in several refereed journals, including Journal of Child Psychology and PsychiatryJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing ResearchJournal of Nonverbal Behavior,  Autism, and Autism Research. 

See her publications.

Read Her CV.

Find Out More About Dr. Grossman.

Current Lab Members


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.



Sarah LaFontaine – FACE Lab Research Assistant 

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.



Lab Alumni

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.


Kiran Khalani – Graduate 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 pic


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 Garicano – 
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 picture


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.


10402386_10206175080205503_5506801186764562405_nAlexandra Nikolaidis – Undergraduate 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.



Amy 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.