Robin Kochel, PhD, is a research psychologist at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Kochel’s research mainly focuses on individuals with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. ASD is a condition of the brain that affects how people learn, behave, and interact with others. Dr. Kochel works with affected children and their families to learn more about causes of ASD, how to detect ASD at earlier ages, and how parents’ beliefs about ASD affect their decisions about health practices, such as whether to vaccinate their children or which treatments to use.
ASD is lifelong, which means that you don’t grow out of it. ASD can look different depending on the person, but kids and adults with autism tend to have common challenges.
Dr. Kochel’s greatest contribution to the field of autism has been through science projects that she works on with other researchers across the United States.
This work has led to important discoveries about how the traits that cause ASD are passed down from parents to their children. Because of this, Dr. Kochel was recently named as one of the most collaborative autism researchers in the past decade.
She is the lead scientist in Texas for a research study called SPARK (Simons Foundation Powering Autism for Knowledge). What makes SPARK special is that it's the largest national autism research project that has ever even attempted.
The study, which recently celebrated its 5th year, brings together 31 of the nation’s top autism centers to create a community of over 50,000 people with autism and their families. SPARK's goal is to speed up research and improve the understanding of autism, which will ultimately help to improve lives.
Dr. Kochel received master’s degrees in Child & Family Studies and Clinical Investigation from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Baylor College of Medicine, respectively, and received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Learn more about Dr. Kochel's research below: