Matthew Goodwin, Principal Investigator


Dr. Matthew S. Goodwin is an assistant professor at Northeastern University with joint appointments in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences and College of Computer & Information Science, where he is a founding and key faculty member of a new doctoral program in Personal Health Informatics and Director of the Computational Behavioral Science Laboratory (CBSL). He is also a visiting assistant professor and the former director of Clinical Research at the MIT Media Lab. Matthew serves on the Executive Board of the International Society for Autism Research, is chair of the Autism Speaks Innovative Technology for Autism Initiative, and has adjunct associate research scientist appointments at Brown University. Matthew has 20 years of research and clinical experience working with children and adults on the autism spectrum and developing and evaluating innovative technologies for behavioral assessment and intervention, including video and audio capture, telemetric physiological monitors, accelerometry sensors, and digital video/facial recognition systems. He is co-PI and associate director of the first large-scale collaborative effort by computer and behavioral scientists addressing early diagnosis and interventions for people with autism spectrum disorders, a research project supported by a National Science Foundation Expeditions in Computing Award. He is also co-PI on a Boston-based Autism Center of Excellence exploring basic mechanisms and innovative interventions in minimally verbal children with autism, recently funded by the National Institutes of Health. Previously he received a National Endowment for the Arts Access to Artistic Excellence Award for his research on autism spectrum disorders and its relationship to advanced technology. Matthew received his B.A. in psychology from Wheaton College and his MA and PhD, both in experimental psychology, from the University of Rhode Island. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Affective Computing in the Media Lab in 2010.



Richard Palumbo, Senior Research Scientist


Dr. Palumbo is a licensed mental health counselor and a senior research scientist in the Computational Behavioral Science Lab at Northeastern University. He has nearly twenty years of research and clinical experience, including many years as a research associate at the Cancer Prevention Research Center at the University of Rhode Island, and operating a private psychotherapy practice in southern Rhode Island. He completed his undergraduate degree at Clark University, holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology, and earned his doctorate in behavioral science at the University of Rhode Island.

Rick’s work focuses on interpersonal physiology – the use of physiological measures to study and quantify interpersonal interactions, often referred to as physiological synchrony. Ongoing projects include assessing physiological synchrony between couples, parents and their typically and atypically developing children (including children with autism spectrum disorder), therapists and clients during psychotherapy as well as group based mindfulness work. In addition, he is actively developing new statistical models and methodological approaches for the study of interpersonal physiology.



Nancy N. Soja, Visiting Research Scientist


Dr. Soja has a B.A. from the University of Rochester in psychology and a Ph.D. from MIT in developmental cognitive science. She has worked as an assistant professor in the Psychology Department at Northeastern University and as a consultant for the Volpe National Transportation System Center.

The demands of learning a language and the ease with which most children do it pose a puzzle. For example, a child may hear “rabbit” as a parent is picking up a stuffed rabbit. The word could refer to the rabbit, pink, soft, lifting, bedtime, toy, dirty, undetached rabbit part, or an infinite number of other things, some of which we do have words for. In addition, children tend not to hear words in isolation. They have to segment the speech stream, analyze the syntax, and more—each task presenting its own seemingly impossible challenges. Yet, most children learn, on average 9 new words a day from their second to fifth years (Carey, 1978). This is the mystery that I’ve been studying. However, just as typically developing children illustrate how finely tuned humans are for acquiring language, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) illustrate how impenetrable the task can be. A subset of ASD children don’t acquire language, another subset become nearly fluent, and the remainder fall in between. In the latter two cases, the process is often delayed and often requires intervention. This has been my focus in the Goodwin Lab. Goodwin has refined portable dense data recording and is taping and measuring children with ASD. I am on the team that analyzes and interprets this wealth of information, with the twin goals of better determining the sources of difficulty and finding more effective interventions.



Jillian Sullivan, Postdoctoral Fellow




James Heathers, Postdoctoral Fellow

James (PhD ’15, Sydney) is a physiological psychologist. He was previously an Endeavour Research Fellow in electrocardiology at PUMS, Poland. He has a number of research interests: physiological signal analysis and methodology,  the psychophysiology of emotion, and meta-science.




Alex Ahmed, Graduate Student

Alex is currently a third year in the Personal Health Informatics Ph.D. program at Northeastern. Before that, she did a BS in Cognitive Science at UC San Diego with a specialization in neuroscience. While there, she worked with Gedeon Deak studying cognitive development and joint attention sharing in infants and young toddlers, and with Gentry Patrick studying the regulation of ubiquitin-proteasome system. She then moved to New Haven to work with Brent Vander Wyk at the Yale Child Study Center, where she used fMRI techniques to measure brain activations to social stimuli in children with autism. She then joined the Machine Perception Lab at UC San Diego, and worked with Marian Bartlett on a project that used computer face recognition and machine learning to categorize instances of post-operative pain in children. At CBSLAB, Alex is involved in on-site research at Boston Children’s Hospital and Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. She enjoys computer and board games, Dungeons & Dragons, live music, programming, and learning new things. More information about Alex can be found on her page.

Catalina Cumpanasoiu, Graduate Student


Catalina is finishing with a triple major: BS in Psychology, Computer Science and Cognitive Science from University of Richmond. During her time there she worked with Dr. David Landy on learning mathematical operations through visual cues and on an algebra teaching software that explores the role of space and physical manipulations of mathematical notations in understanding of and performance on algebra problems. Her honors thesis has been on spatial cognition and emotion recognition as a function of ASD. She has also had two summer internships working with children on the autism spectrum. She is looking forward to use technology to answer autism-related questions!

Oliver Wilder-Smith, Graduate Student


Oliver Wilder-Smith is a 5th year doctoral student in Personal Health Informatics, a new joint doctoral program between Bouvé College of Health Science and the College of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University. His research interests center on leveraging innovative technology for psychological research, with a focus on social-emotional development, co-regulation, interpersonal physiology, and autism spectrum disorders. As an undergraduate working with Professor Rosalind Picard and Dr. Matthew Goodwin at the MIT Media Lab, Oliver co-developed and patented wearable ambulatory autonomic sensing technology which lead to an MIT spinout company, Affectiva Inc. Oliver spent three years at Affectiva where he oversaw their wearable ambulatory autonomic sensing product line before leaving to pursue his doctoral studies in 2011. In addition to his academic work, Oliver has more than five years experience working clinically with children with developmental disabilities as an assistant counselor in a therapeutic after school program. Oliver received his A.L.B. from Harvard University, where he majored in Psychology and minored in Engineering, and is an inventor on over 12 US and international patents. A complete CV can be found here.


Christophe Gerard

Ian Kleckner

Miriam Zisook