Research Team

Lab Director

Noah Sasson

Dr. Sasson is the Director of the Social Cognition and Interaction in Autism Lab at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). Dr. Sasson joined UT Dallas in 2009 as an assistant professor in psychological sciences. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Franklin & Marshall College and a PhD in developmental psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). Prior to joining the UT Dallas faculty, he held post-doctoral research fellowships at the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Research Center at UNC, the Brain Behavior Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Dr. Sasson’s research investigates the cognitive and social mechanisms that contribute to social disability in autism.

Phone: 972-883-2541

See Noah Sasson’s Publications

Doctoral Students

Kilee DeBrabander

Kilee is a third-year PhD student in the cognition and neuroscience PhD program. She graduated from Alma College in Michigan in 2017, where she studied psychology and chemistry. Her research interests include metacognition and social cognition in autistic adults. Kilee is currently finishing her qualifying thesis, which compares introspective accuracy (IA) abilities for social and non-social tasks for both autistic and non-autistic adults. She hopes to continue to explore IA in autistic individuals by investigating it’s relationships to various clinical, social, and functional outcomes.

Desi Jones

Desi is a second-year PhD student in the psychological sciences PhD program at UT Dallas studying developmental psychology. She received her BA in neuroscience and psychology from Wellesley College in 2016 and worked as a research assistant at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for two years before joining the lab. Desi is interested in the social and cognitive factors that contribute to long-term outcomes in autism. She is currently conducting her qualifying thesis, which evaluates methods to improve social interactions in autistic adults.

Graduate Students

Alejandra Castillo

Alejandra is a first-year master’s student in the psychological sciences program at UT Dallas. She graduated from Morningside College in 2019 where she studied biopsychology and counseling psychology. Alejandra joined the Social Cognition and Interaction in Autism Lab because her goals are to research neuropsychological performance in ASD and looking at cognitive areas essential for neuropsychological evaluation related to ASD.

Jessie De La Garza

Jessie is a first-year master’s student in the psychological sciences program at UT Dallas. She graduated from The University of North Texas in 2019 with a BA in psychology and a BS in applied behavior analysis. There, she worked as a research assistant in the Neuropsychosocial lab and the Neurocognitive lab from 2017-2019 and published a manuscript in the journal Death Studies. In the future, she plans to obtain a PhD in clinical psychology and continue working with adults with autism, ADD, and other learning and developmental differences.

Kathryn King

Kathryn is a first-year master’s student in the psychological sciences program at UT Dallas. She graduated from UT Dallas in 2018, where she studied psychology and neuroscience. She was a part of the Cellular and Synaptic Physiology lab for two years, studying schizophrenia. Kathryn joined the Social Cognition and Interaction in Autism Lab because her long-term research goals are to study cognition in adults with ASD.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Isabel Magana

Isabel Magaña is currently an undergraduate at UT Dallas, majoring in neuroscience and minoring in Spanish. After graduating she plans to pursue her lifelong dream of attending medical school and becoming a neurosurgeon or neurologist. Isabel joined the Social Cognition and Interaction in Autism Lab in order to develop a better understanding of ASD and how this affects different aspects of their life.

Hulon Sherard

Hulon is currently a senior, majoring in both math and cognitive science. He is also grateful to be at UT Dallas on a scholarship from the Terry Foundation. He wants to research how academic, social, and emotional information connect, and how people process this information. In working with the DSC lab, he is looking forward to learning more about how people with ASD and SCZ process social information.

Danny Dunn

Danny Dunn moved from Massachusetts to Texas to study psychology, and one day hopes to go to grad school here as well. After that, Danny would love to get a PhD and use that to work with disabled individuals to help them cope with the difficult experiences that come along with having a disability.

Priya Vanparia

Priya Vanparia is currently a junior majoring in both speech-language pathology and audiology as well as child development. She has always had an interest in working with and learning more about those with autism, as her brother was diagnosed with ASD around the age of two. After graduating, she plans to pursue a career as a certified speech-language pathologist with a focus on children and adults with ASD. She hopes to also establish her own practice with unique remedial techniques. Priya joined the Social Cognition and Interaction in Autism Lab in order to develop a better understanding of how certain social abilities develop in individuals with ASD.

Nick Via

Nick Via is currently a junior, majoring in psychology. His primary interest is in how the brain relates to behavior, perception, and social function. Nick joined the DSC Lab to learn more about autism spectrum disorder and how individuals with autism may overcome specific social challenges. In the future, he hopes to complete graduate school and eventually work in a clinical setting to assist children and adults with ASD.

Mattie Watts

Mattie Watts is a senior majoring in child learning & development. After graduating, she plans to attend Medical School in pursuit of becoming either a Pediatric Surgeon or an Emergency Medicine Physician. She joined the Social Cognition and Interaction in Autism Lab Lab to better understand the developmental factors of social abnormalities in hopes of using her knowledge and experience to improve outcomes of children and families with ASD.

Lab Alumni

Kerrianne Morrison

Kerrianne Morrison graduated from UTD’s psychological sciences PhD program in spring of 2019. After completing her dissertation examining how autistic adults participate in and experience social interaction, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she does health and military communications research.

Daniel Faso

Daniel Faso completed his doctorate in psychological sciences at UTD in 2016. His research program focused on perceptions of autistic adults formed by social partners and the potential impacts such perceptions can have on relational interactions. Daniel’s primary interest is bringing research practices into applied community settings to improve and expand the ability to serve the needs experienced by adults with disabilities. He recently started a new position as the Strategic Research and Insights Manager within My Possibilities, a nonprofit organization providing education and vocational training for adults with disabilities.

Masters Program Alumni

Lauren Krisa
Hsin-Fen Yang
Claire Noonan
Zoheb Allam
Lacey Chambers
David Rachman

Undergraduate Alumni with Honors

Malina Maharana
Rachel Nowlin
Kyle Barton
Lauren Weittenhiller

If you are interested in joining the research team of the Social Cognition and Interaction in Autism Lab, please complete this form and return it to Dr. Noah Sasson’s office at GR 4.813.