The team at the Aspect Research Centre for Autism Practice (ARCAP) plans, supports and implements research projects, including evaluations, to ensure the continuous improvement of Aspect services. ARCAP researchers also collaborate in autism research studies with other autism researchers across Australia and internationally, and share the findings of their research through publications and presentations. Together, the expertise of the team encompasses education, early childhood development, psychology, neuroscience, neuropsychology, genetics, biomedical science, technology, information research and communications.
Trevor Clark, PhD, National Director, Research
Adjunct Associate Professor, Griffith Institute for Educational Research, Griffith University
Trevor is a special educator, researcher and author with a comprehensive experience and knowledge of educational programs, service provision and research related to the education of students on the autism spectrum. Trevor’s career in autism spans three decades and three countries - New Zealand, England and Australia. He completed his PhD in autism at the University of New South Wales in 2001 on the design of a curriculum to make functional use of savant and splinter skills in children on the autism spectrum. Trevor presents nationally and internationally on education and research in autism and is co-author of A Practical Guide for Teachers of Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in Secondary Education and author of Exploring Giftedness and Autism - study of a differentiated program for autistic savants. Trevor is a member of the Executive Committee of the Australasian Society for Autism Research (ASfAR) and served as the Society's President for 2015-2016.
Vicki Gibbs, M Clin Psych, National Manager, Research and Assessments
Vicki is a clinical psychologist with specialised training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of autism in children and adults.
Vicki is the co-author of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ consensus paper for paediatricians in the diagnosis and assessment of autism and numerous papers into autism assessment practices. She has provided consultation and training in relation to autism to a range of organisations including health and education departments and universities and was key to the development of Launchpad, Aspect's website assisting young people on the autism spectrum to navigate the transition from school to adult life.
Vicki is also currently undertaking doctoral studies in autism at Macquarie University, under the supervision of Dr Liz Pellicano. She is also the parent of a young adult on the autism spectrum.
Susan Bruck, PhD, Senior Research Officer
Susan is a researcher and educator. Susan has a keen interest in universal accessibility, and has many years of experience in teaching children and adults. At ARCAP, Susan’s is involved with numerous research projects, primarily in education. Susan has co-authored many journal articles in the field of autism and is a co-author of Aspect’s 2017 book Shining a Light on the Autism Spectrum: Experiences and aspirations of adults.
Before joining Aspect, Susan held lecture and research positions at Macquarie University. Her doctoral research provided evidence that watching three-dimensional movement on a computer screen can increase and individual’s anxiety level, under certain conditions. The findings are important for the development of educational applications, therapeutic interventions and entertainment programs.
Kaaren Haas, BSc, MA, Senior Research Officer
Kaaren is responsible for the design, implementation and reporting of numerous research studies for the Aspect Research Centre for Autism Practice. She also oversees the monitoring of autism research findings from around the world and conduct of literature reviews to inform the Aspect Comprehensive Approach.
Kaaren holds a Masters in information research from University of Technology Sydney, majoring in qualitative research and information search. Her research interests focus on the experiences, aspirations and support needs of people on the autism spectrum, and strategies to enable participation in the community. Kaaren has authored journal articles in the field of autism and is a co-author of Aspect’s 2017 book Shining a Light on the Autism Spectrum: Experiences and aspirations of adults.
Kaaren was previously communication manager for a number of leading Australian corporations and a policy and research officer with the Australian government. She is also the parent of a young adult on the autism spectrum.
Ru Ying Cai, BSc, BIS, GradCertEval, PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Ru has recently completed her PhD at La Trobe University with the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, examining emotion regulation and mental health in youth and adults on the autism spectrum. Ru has also conducted research in autism on the topics of tertiary education, employment and financial wellbeing, presenting the findings from this research at national and international conferences and publishing in various international journals. At the Aspect Research Centre for Autism Practice, Ru's research is currently focussed on the Inclusive Banking project for Beyond Bank. Before her career in research, Ru worked in information technology as a project manager and IT auditor.
Ainslie Robinson, BEd Studies, Research Assistant
Ainslie joined Aspect in 2015 as an autistic researcher for the Autism CRC project 2.037 Models of Practice, which has investigated and developed ways of supporting transitions in middle school for autistic school students. Her current work for ARCAP includes supporting the development and implementation of ARCAP's Exceptional Abilities studies in Australia, China and the USA.
Ainslie is also a member of the Aspect Advisory Council, a formal body in Aspect’s governance framework. Comprised of seven members of the autistic community, the Council provides advice to the Board and the senior management of Aspect on its strategy and operations.
Ainslie graduated with a Bachelor of Educational Studies majoring in social studies from University of New England, and is currently undertaking a Master of Special Education at Macquarie University.
Ainslie is also the parent of a school-aged child on the autism spectrum.
Emma Gallagher, BEd (Early Childhood), Research Assistant
Emma works with the Aspect Research Centre for Autism Practice on the Autism CRC project 2.037 Models of Practice, which is exploring ways of supporting transitions in middle school for school students on the autism spectrum. As a member of the autistic community, Emma also provides valued insight and input to Aspect research studies at all stages of a project.
In addition, Emma is a member of the Aspect Think Tank, a remunerated group of adults on the autism spectrum who provide advice for Aspect on day-to-day autism practice.
Emma is a keen advocate for the rights and needs of children on the spectrum through sharing her personal journey on the autism spectrum and her expertise in providing support for children of all abilities. Emma holds a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care, and outside of Aspect, she works as an Early Childhood Teacher
Sabrina Agius, BSc (Hons), Research Assistant
As a research assistant with the Aspect Research Centre for Autism Practice, Sabrina provides support to many research projects undertaken by Aspect. She enjoys contributing to research that seeks to improve the experiences of individuals on the autism spectrum.
Sabrina completed her Bachelor of Science with Honours Class I in Psychology with majors in Psychology and Neuroscience at Sydney University. In completing her degree, Sabrina was awarded the prestigious University Medal. She is keen to gain exposure to research and practice in these fields before commencing a Masters of Clinical Psychology and PhD.
Sabrina has held prior positions as a research assistant at Sydney University, in the provision of positive behaviour support for children on the autism spectrum, and as a learning support mentor for children and adolescents.
Shivana Chandra, BEd (Primary), BSc, MBMSc, Research Assistant
Shivana is a research assistant working predominantly on Stage 3 of the Autism CRC project 2.037 Models of Practice to investigate the efficacy of a hybrid online and face-to-face approach to coaching to support teachers of students on the autism spectrum.
Shivana has completed a Bachelor of Science with majors in genetics and biomedical science. She has recently completed her Masters of Brain and Mind Sciences at the University of Sydney with the aims of pursuing a PhD. Prior to working in research, Shivana has worked as a primary school teacher in Queensland and has experience in working with students on the autism spectrum. She has a keen interest in combining her passion for neuropsychology and education and exploring the field of research in these areas.