Meet the Researchers
As an innovative and entrepreneurial community-facing clinical center operating on Saint Joseph’s campus, the Kinney Center creates outstanding opportunities for clinical program research and development. Our Research team is comprised of expert faculty and students.
Joseph McCleery, PhD
Research at the Kinney Center is led by Kinney’s Academic Director, Joseph McCleery, PhD, an experimental psychologist who has been studying individuals with autism for more than 20 years. Dr. McCleery simultaneously serves as an Assistant Professor in Saint Joseph's University Department of Psychology, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses on autism and on human development across the lifespan. Dr. McCleery completed his undergraduate degree at Rutgers University, doctorate at the University of California at San Diego, and postdoctoral training at Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School. Dr. McCleery has published his research and ideas in leading peer-reviewed journals in the fields of clinical psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience; and his research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the M.I.N.D. Institute, the Economic and Social Research Council (UK), the Leverhulme Trust (UK), and the U.S. Department of Education, among others.
Over the course of the past 20 years, Dr. McCleery’s autism research interests and activities have covered a wide range of topics, including behavioral development, brain development, language learning, communication intervention, social and emotional processing and perception and genetic syndromes. Over the past several years, his research program and career have shifted into a more intentional focus on Clinical Research and Development (R&D). This R&D work has spanned positions in universities, academic hospitals, and the intervention and tech industries.
Kinney Research Team Members
Theresa McFalls, LSW
Theresa received her Master’s degree in social work from West Chester University, is a Licensed Social Worker in the state of Pennsylvania, and is currently pursuing a EdD in educational leadership at Saint Joseph’s University. Theresa has worked with children and their families in a variety of settings including residential treatment facilities, hospitals and schools. She has provided individual, group and family counseling services while locating additional community resources.
Theresa joined the Kinney Center team in 2011 and assisted with the development and implementation of the ASPIRE college support program starting in its inaugural year. Theresa is currently interim executive directory of Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support. In addition to her current role, she oversees all of the Kinney Center’s college support programming and strives to provide students and their families with resources that enable students to achieve academic success and expand social opportunities. In this capacity, Theresa facilitates and contributes studies and data collection and interpretation as it applies to past and present ASPIRE students.
Juan is a graduate student in the Saint Joseph's University's Master of Science Psychology degree program with an undergraduate degree in psychology from Virginia Tech University. Juan joined the Kinney Research Team in Fall 2020 while pursuing his master’s degree thesis on the topic of obtaining meaningful input from people of color living in urban areas in order to improve a police interaction training program for people with autism living in urban settings. This research is being conducted in collaboration with scientists and clinicians in the Center for Autism Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Center for Autism and Neurodiversity at Jefferson Health, and Floreo, Inc. Juan will be entering his second year in the two-year Saint Joseph's psychology graduate program in the fall of 2020, and plans to enter a doctorate degree in psychology in order to pursue an academic career conducting research and development projects designed to improve intervention accessibility and effectiveness for traditionally under-represented and under-served communities.
Abby joined the Research Team as a graduate student in the Saint Joseph's University's Master of Science Psychology degree program after completing her undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of the Sciences. She joined the Kinney Research Team in Fall 2020. Her master’s degree thesis research was an experimental research project designed to examine the dating experiences and dating support needs of young adults with autism. This research is being conducted in collaboration with clinicians in the Kinney Center’s ASPIRE autism college student support program. Since then, Abby decided to pursue a master’s degree program in counseling psychology, but continues to be a member of our Research Team and involved in the dating study which she initiated in our Center.
Kelly is a Saint Joseph's University undergraduate student, majoring in chemistry and minoring in autism behavioral studies. Kelly joined the Kinney Research Team in January 2019. She has been involved in conducting a number of studies in Kinney. She has led an analysis of historical data on academic progression and academic performance in college students with and without autism, in collaboration with the Dr. McCleery, Dr. Schatz and the director of the Kinney ASPIRE program, Theresa McFalls. Kelly has also led a study of social and emotional functioning, daily living skills, and quality of life in college students with autism, measured through a carefully selected battery of standardized questionnaires, administered online. Kelly was an Summer Scholar with Kinney for the summer of 2020, and will be an SJU Summer Scholar again in the summer of 2021. She will also complete her Saint Joseph's undergraduate honors program thesis with us during the 2021-2022 academic year. Kelly was recently admitted into Jefferson’s Sidney Kimmel Medical School, as part of Kinney’s joint partnership program to develop and train autism-specialist medical doctors.
Alyssa is a Saint Joseph's undergraduate student, double majoring in psychology and autism behavioral studies, and joined the Kinney Research Team in June 2020. She has been involved in conducting a number of studies in Kinney. For example, she has been very involved with the development and implementation of our online study of social emotional and daily living skills in college students with autism. She has also aided in the development of our study of dating experiences and dating support needs in people with autism.
Carly is a Saint Joseph's undergraduate student, majoring in psychology and minoring in autism behavioral studies. Carly joined the Kinney Research Team in August 2018. She has been involved in conducting a number of studies in Kinney. She has been integral in the development, piloting, and management of our studies of aerobic exercise in people with and without autism. She has also been very involved in the development, piloting, and management of several of our online studies involving the testing of college students with and without autism.
Tate is a Saint Joseph's undergraduate student, majoring in health studies. Tate joined the Kinney Research Team in June 2021, as a Summer Scholar. He will be involved with our study of dating experiences and dating support needs in people with autism. He will also be involved with data analysis for an electroencephalography (EEG) study of children with and without autism in collaboration with scientists in the Center for Autism Research, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.