Below is a message from Executive Vice President and Nina Henderson Provost M. Brian Blake, PhD, and Senior Vice Provost for Research Aleister J. Saunders, PhD:
With the goal of assuring a smooth transition under new leadership at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute at Drexel University, we are pleased to announce that Diana L. Robins, PhD, professor and research program leader at the Institute, will take over as interim director, effective January 1. She replaces founding director Craig J. Newschaffer, PhD, who is headed to Penn State to become dean of the College of Health and Human Development.
Dr. Robins is a clinical neuropsychologist doing groundbreaking work as the principal investigator in one of the first studies to combine early screening in community settings, early diagnosis, and intensive evidence-based early intervention once children are identified to have autism spectrum disorder. This work — part of an $11 million collaborative effort with other researchers — will identify children with autism spectrum disorders among 8,000 children.
Prior to joining the Drexel faculty in 2014, Dr. Robins was an associate professor of psychology at Georgia State University, which followed a postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychology at the Yale University Child Study Center. Dr. Robins did her internship in clinical psychology at the University of Florida, her undergraduate studies at Oberlin College, and earned her masters and doctorate at the University of Connecticut. She has published widely, and at Drexel has mentored students from three colleges working on doctoral, masters and other projects.
Dr. Robins’ plans for the Institute include developing and implementing strategies to facilitate collaboration across the Institute’s research programs and other academic units, and also launching a postdoctoral professional development seminar.
In the five years since its founding, the Institute has brought in more than $16 million in research revenue through more than 55 sponsored projects from federal agencies and research foundations. Institute faculty have authored or co-authored more than 175 web-of-science indexed, peer-reviewed articles and garnered six mentions on annual top autism research publication lists. More than 80 students have had research mentorship experiences at the Institute. With more than $5 million in gifts with substantial additional commitments in hand, including more than $800,000 from the first Eagles Autism Challenge, the Institute is well-positioned to expand society’s understanding of the many issues surrounding autism spectrum disorders.
A search for a permanent director will be launched in the coming months. Meanwhile, please join us in congratulating Dr. Robins on her appointment.
M. Brian Blake
Executive Vice President and Nina Henderson Provost
Aleister J. Saunders
Senior Vice Provost for Research