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. The expertise of our research team encompasses autism specific education, interventions, assessment and inclusive practices.
Trevor Clark, PhD – National Director
Adjunct Associate Professor, Griffith Institute for Educational Research, Griffith University
Trevor is a researcher with a comprehensive experience and knowledge of educational programs, service provision and research related to the field of autism; his experience and knowledge is the result of 32 years in the field in New Zealand, England and Australia.
Trevor is a former recipient of the international Hollingsworth Award (Excellence in the Psychology & Education of Gifted students) for his doctoral thesis in 2001 (UNSW), which involved the trial of a differentiated educational curriculum for school-aged students on the autism spectrum who present with twice-exceptional (2e) savant skills.
He presents nationally and internationally on ARCAP’s translational research that is directed towards improving outcomes for Autistic people, and on ‘exceptional skills’ and autism. Major publications include:
(i) Exploring Giftedness and Autism – A study of a differentiated program for autistic savants. London. Routledge (2016)
(ii) co-authored Gifted Students with disability: twice-exceptional learners in Exploring Gifted Education. Australian & New Zealand Perspectives. London. Routledge (2018)
(iii) the chapter, A Curriculum to Support Students with Autism and Special Talents and Abilities in The SAGE Handbook of Autism and Education. SAGE (2019).
Trevor is an Executive Committee Member of the Australasian Society for Autism Research (ASfAR) and was the past President (2015–2016).
Vicki Gibbs, M Clin Psych – National Manager
Vicki Gibbs is a Clinical Psychologist and National Manager of Aspect Research Centre for Autism Practice. Prior to her current role, Vicki was responsible for establishing Aspect’s first dedicated diagnostic assessment service and developing an Australian-first website aimed at assisting young Autistic people to navigate the transition from school to adult life. Vicki has presented at numerous conferences, workshops and training seminars in relation to autism assessment and has co-authored a number of published papers into autism assessment practices and the intersection between autism and the criminal justice system in Australia. Vicki is currently completing a PhD investigating victimisation experiences of Autistic adults.
Ru Ying Cai, BSc, BIS, GradCertEval, PhD – Postdoctoral Researcher
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.
Abigail Love, B.S., M.S., PhD – Research Officer
Abigail (Abbey) is an educational psychologist with experience working as a teacher, advocate, and researcher. She completed her PhD at the University of Kentucky where her dissertation and advocacy work centred on educating first responders to better support their autistic community members. She has worked as a lecturer in inclusion in the international context, and has experience teaching school-aged students. In Australia, Abbey has most recently worked in education as a learning specialist focused on SWPBS and the education of students with challenging behaviour.
Mustafa Al Ansari, PhD, BASc (Hons 1) – Postdoctoral Researcher
Mustafa is a public health researcher who has completed his PhD at the University of Sydney investigating attitudes on alcohol in a post-conflict abstinent setting. He is also an investigator on an international health project looking at health and health services at the largest annual global mass gathering. Mustafa has more than five years’ experience in Indigenous Health and alcohol research, and has taught Population Health to MD students at the University of Sydney Central Clinical School.
Mustafa has presented his work at a number of international conferences including the World Congress on Public Health. As a widely travelled, multilingual former child refugee, he is passionate about refugee and minorities rights which drive him to be an active community member.
At the Aspect Research Centre for Autism Practice, Mustafa is supporting the Aspect Research Priorities project and leading a new project aimed at understanding how to best support autistic people transitioning from home to independent living.
Heidi Coupland, PhD, BAppSc (OT), MPH – Research Officer
Heidi is an experienced public health researcher whose work has focused on the health and wellbeing of people who inject drugs, as well as factors influencing their access to health and other services, particularly for those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities. She completed her PhD at the University of New South Wales, investigating hepatitis C prevention and treatment among Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian-Australian people who inject drugs. Her most recent research has involved the development of a model of care for Substance Use in Pregnancy and Parenting Services and factors influencing linkage to hepatitis C care in different health service settings.
Heidi is also an occupational therapist who has worked in school, hospital and community settings in the United Kingdom and Australia. She is a Board member for the National Centre for Childhood Grief, a service that provides support for bereaved children and families, outreach support for schools and high-quality training and education in relation to death, dying and bereavement.
At Aspect, Heidi will conduct research in relation to Aspect Research Priorities and the lived experiences of twice exceptional adults in education, work, home and community.
Genevieve Johnsson, PhD – Practice Leader (Innovation)
Genevieve joined Aspect in 2008 as a psychologist and has worked across home, centre and school based programs providing support to individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. Genevieve is currently employed in the role of Practice Leader (Innovation) and has overseen the research and implementation of Aspect’s tele-practice programs. This includes webinar training and online consultation programs for service providers, as well as tele-therapy for families in rural and remote areas.
Genevieve completed her PhD at the University of Sydney investigating models of technology-based training and support for rural and remote professionals. Genevieve is passionate about bringing services to underserved areas, and will be continuing her research with the University of Sydney Centre for Disability Research and Policy focusing on the delivery of Positive Behaviour Support via tele-practice.
Ainslie Robinson, BEd Studies – Research Assistant
Ainslie joined Aspect in 2015 as a 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. Ainslie now supports a variety of projects including the implementation of ARCAP's Exceptional Abilities studies in Australia, China and the USA, and the ‘Lived-experience of Twice Exceptional Adults’ project.
In addition to her research work, Ainslie has a keen interest in co-production in the autism space and is Aspect’s Working in Partnership Officer. In this role, Ainslie support’s Aspect’s strategic goal of working in partnership with the autistic community.
Ainslie graduated with a Bachelor of Educational Studies majoring in social studies from University of New England.
Emma Gallagher, BECE (birth-5) – Autistic Consultant, Research and Practice
Emma Gallagher is a proud Autistic woman who works as a consultant, advocate and researcher with Aspect’s Autism Friendly team. As an Autistic researcher and advocate, Emma provides valued insight and input into a wide range of Aspect research studies at all stages of a project. Emma is also a founding 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 autistic people 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 is currently Studying her Masters in Research at Macquarie University.