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Research Curators

Larisa Koyen

Lead Research Curator

18Ox 21C Biology & Chemistry

Everyone is affected by autism in some way and I think that better understanding autism is a necessary part of understanding general concepts about human health. I’ve always wanted to be involved with research in the health and behavior fields. Therefore, I knew that Emory’s Autism Awareness Organization was a perfect place to put these passions to use in a way that will positively impact the lives of other people. AAO compiles service, learning, and research surrounding autism into a single club, which is extremely valuable. I’m excited about the things that this organization will teach me in the upcoming years.

Sophia Song

Research Curator

22C NBB & Psychology

I got involved with autism awareness because I believe it is time for the world to start celebrating and embracing differences that make humans unique. I have grown up with children with ASD, who matured into strong, thriving individuals with the help of true acceptance from their communities who understood that ASD does not define individuals. This is why I cannot stress how important it is to reach out to those who misuse terminology, which can reinforce negative social stigmas surrounding ASD. That in turn, can prevent individuals with ASD from reaching their true potential. Every individual deserves opportunities to flourish and contribute to society, and I firmly believe this cannot happen without active autism awareness and research.

Sreyas Yennampelli

Research Curator

21Ox 23C NBB & PPL

After having a friend with ASD, and even learning about the unfortunate stigma that is present in society towards families with ASD, I became certain of the necessity to work with an organization at the forefront of ASD research. Additionally, I am very interested in neuroscience and it is a field of medicine I hope to pursue in the future; paired with the traditional education received from classes, hands-on experience with revolutionary neurobiology research can teach me so much and be so rewarding!

Danbi Lim

Research Curator

20Ox 22C Biology

I have been interested in raising awareness not only for ASD, but for any other medical conditions that impact so many people’s lives. I observed too many people avoiding talking about and to the affected individuals. If more people are comfortable talking about and to the people with ASD, then the conversations would be much easier. My goal is to help bring more people to understand more about ASD easily through more accessible information.

Donna Tsai

Research Curator

21Ox 23C NBB

Growing up in Shanghai, I became aware of the cultural stigma surrounding mental illnesses. As my passion for neuroscience grew, I’m beginning to understand the vast spectrum of what it means to be a human being. I decided to join the AAO not only to learn more about ASD for my own education and to spread knowledge supported by scientific evidence, but also to emphasize the importance of treating mental illnesses like physical illnesses.

Yessica Velasquez

Research Curator

20Ox 22C NBB

I decided to get involved with Autism Awareness at Emory when I learned about the mission of the club and it’s importance. I hope to use my position to assist in bridging the gaps of extreme socioeconomic and racial disparities in Autism diagnosis, treatment, and awareness. Minority groups and/or those from low-income families tend to be at a greater disadvantage for lack of resources or means to financially afford the assistance needed for ASD. I hope to assist in serving the mission of this club while also expanding awareness to communities that most desperately lack the information and resources.

Joyce Liu

Research Curator

21Ox 23C Biology & Economics

I initially joined Emory Autism Awareness Organization as a business blog member because I am interested in advocating for the equity of individuals with ASD in the workplace. As I researched more about business and politics, I wanted to dig deeper and learn about ASD from a neuroscience and medical perspective. Through conducting research with AAO, I hope to better understand the science behind neurodiversity and advocate for a more accepting and understanding society.

Hely Patel

Research Curator

21Ox 23C Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology

I joined AAO because I grew up in a joint family with an autistic cousin-sister, and for many years, my family didn't know that she had ASD. In my rural hometown, there wasn't many supplemental resources and awareness about ASD, which significantly delayed her treatment, causing difficulties in cognition, language, and adaptive behavior. During my first year of college, I spent 3 months conducting ASD research, and my team and I identified some the most promising biomarkers for the early detection of ASD. Through this experience, I learned so much about ASD symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, and interventions, and I knew that getting involved with AAO was the next step for me. I aspire to continue to delve into ASD research in hopes of spreading knowledge and awareness about ASD to ensure that less children face the severe consequences of a late diagnosis, like my cousin-sister.

Kaushiki Ravi

Research Curator

Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology

I am interested in the Autism Awareness Organization because I am passionate about healthcare and science communication. Having a younger cousin brother who has borderline ASD, I have always noticed how teachers treated him as less than an equal participant than the other children. With this personal experience, I really wish to advocate for the equity and involvement of individuals with ASD. I believe that it is important to understand facts about ASD through academic research and expand awareness to populations in a manner that is understood by people outside the scientific community as well. I am excited to positively contribute to the lives of children, like my brother, with ASD and learn more about ASD through the AAO!

Elayne Joe

Research Curator

20Ox 22C Biology

AAO specializes in a part of the medical field I am particularly interested in: neurology and neuropsychology. In addition to my profound curiosity and fascination in the nervous system, my primary motivation to participate in this club is a strong desire to help people. Through AAO, not only am I working to help people with autism while fostering the inclusion and acceptance of those touched by autism, but it is while doing something I truly enjoy.

Drayson Cambell

Research Curator

21C Chemistry & Physics

My involvement in AAO has been driven primarily through a desire to explore the humanistic side of ASD and incite positive changes. My work in a translational neuroscience lab has taken me deep into the specifics of auditory social communication. Despite the ongoing scientific discoveries and advancements, the population at large still holds onto misinformation that was dispersed in the last few decades regarding autism. My goal is to utilize our understanding of neurobiology and ethology to educate our community of the truths of ASD to promote inclusivity.

Anshruta (Anu) Dhanashekar

Research Curator

20Ox 22C NBB & Creative Writing

In the past few years, I have become extremely passionate about research in neuroscience, specifically in cognitive neuroscience and neuro-oncology. I want to become a part of a larger team to gain exposure to this research and provide my own input into this field. I have always had a passion for writing and want to expand upon my skills in scientific writing with reviews and manuscripts. I am excited to make a contribution in scientific research through AAO!

Merissa Coleman

Research Curator

20Ox 22C Human Health, Minor in French

I became involved in Emory’s Autism Awareness Organisation due to my interest in the public health implications of healthcare policy and health practices surrounding autism. Autism is prevalent and complex, and, while ASD does not discriminate along race and gender lines, diagnosis and care are affected by social climates that influence healthcare policy. I believe that providing easily digestible research can help myself and others advocate for equality in support for individuals with ASD. I look forward to continuing to learn more about ASD to promote compassion and inclusivity!

Zoya Munsar

Research Curator

20Ox 22C NBB, Minor in Spanish

I gained a passion for neuroscience through my personal connections with a cousin and family friends with ASD, and I am specifically interested in the unfair ways in which people with ASD are often treated at schools and in the workplace. I have previously conducted research in the field of neuroscience, but by joining AAO, I hope to specifically delve into autism research and gain a deeper understanding of how autism is treated around the world. I hope to pursue a career in pediatrics and believe that learning more about the various methods of treatment will help me have a positive impact on the lives of children with ASD. I am thrilled to learn more about autism through AAO and to help overcome misconceptions!

Dawn Nguyen

Research Curator

20Ox 22C Psychology

My involvement with AAO was a way to learn more about ASD and to be an advocate for science communication. Peer-reviewed science articles are usually only meant for other scientists to see and read, and therefore, are not directly accessible to the public. By neglecting science communication, people are left to fill the void with their assumptions, and this can lead to misinformation. By making research studies and articles more digestible to the public, I want to be able to help people learn more about ASD and also filter and discern the facts from fiction they may see in the news and media. Although I am new to the ASD community, I am excited to learn more and hope to contribute and support in anyway I can!

Ava Erulker

Research Curator

20Ox 22C WGS, Minor in Predictive Health

I joined AAO as a research curator in an effort to actively educate myself further on the everyday challenges that the ASD community faces, from social stigma to a lack of access to quality healthcare. I don’t personally know anyone with ASD, so I hope that through my involvement, I will be able to acknowledge my own misconceptions and address them. As an aspiring physician, I believe it is important to understand the lived experiences of as many types of populations as possible in order to better serve those individuals. I am excited to engage more deeply with academic material on ASD and share my findings with those who also identify with AAO’s mission!

Aditi Vellore

Research Curator

23C Biology

As a high schooler, I had the opportunity to be a math tutor and teach a wide range of children from grades 1-12. Amongst the children I came across, some were faced with autism and were immediately claimed "less intelligent" or "less able" than others. However, that was never the case. The students I taught were just as intelligent as any other student, grasping and learning concepts at a good pace. By being a part of AAO, I want to educate our community and create a greater awareness against using such derogatory labels.

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