The F.U.N. Lab at the University of Notre Dame

Welcome to the F.U.N. Lab

Welcome to the homepage of the Laboratory For Understanding Neurodevelopment.  We are a group of researchers, clinicians, and students who share a common interest in understanding neurodevelopmental disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  

Currently, we are working to understand Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We are interested in how individuals with ASD (including Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and PDD) understand language in order to improve treatment of the disorder.


SPARC Project: Supporting Parent-Adolescent Relationships and Communication

The Notre Dame SPARC Project is a program designed to support effective communication and strengthen relationships in families that include a child with an intellectual and/or developmental disability (IDD).  In particular, the SPARC Project is geared toward supporting parents and typically developing adolescent siblings of individuals with IDD by promoting effective communication and conflict resoluation between couples and also between parents and their typically developing children.  The goal of the study is to evaluate how best to support parents and typically developing siblings of individuals with IDD by improving communication and strengthening family relationships.

The Notre Dame SPARC Project is actively recruiting participants in South Bend and Ft. Wayne, IN and the surrounding areas.  Eligible pariticipants are families that include fathers and mothers who are married or living together in the same home with a typically developing child between the ages of 11 and 17 years old, and a child of any age who has been diagnosed with any type of intellectual and/or developmental disability.  Paritcipating families will be invited to visit one of our centers (in South Bend or Ft. Wayne) several times over the course of one year.  Families could earn up to $310 for their paritcipation over the course of one year, and free childcare is provided at all visits by team members who are trained to work with individuals with IDD.  

Interested families can call Jessica at 574-631-6009 or email us at for more information.

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Student Spotlight

A F.U.N. Lab senior research assistant, Andrew Flatley, was featured in the College of Science News for his work at Johns Hopkins during the summer of 2015. We are proud of Andrew for representing the F.U.N. Lab and for all of his hard work and commitment. Click here to view the article.

Congratulations to Jamon Pulliam who was recently honored at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in San Antonio Texas.  Jamon was given an award for his outstanding presentation of his research based on the F.U.N. Lab's Summer Science Camp.  Jamon worked at the Notre Dame F.U.N. Lab this summer before retuning to Tuskegee Univerisity. 

Congratulations to Michelle Won for  receiving a grant from the Autism Science Foundation.  The Autism Science Foundation grant, which is an extremely competitive grant, is aimed at  highly qualified undergraduates interested in pursuing basic and clinical research relevant to autism spectrum disorders during the summer. Michelle will be working with us this summer on the Family Relations and Communication Project.

Congratulations to Whitney McWherter for receiving a Senior Recognition Award.  This award was designed to recognize a select few graduating majors who have distinguished themselves through consistently high levels of achievement in their course work, their research activities, and in their service to the department, university and community.  Whitney received this award for all her hard work in the Psychology Department.

Congratulations to Catherine “Grace” Connolly for receiving the  Ancora Imparo Award.  This award is given to a communicative sciences and disorders major who is outstanding in scholarship, leadership, character, and service. It is the highest honor within the department. Grace’s name will be engraved on a plaque in the new Judd Leighton Speech and Language Clinic.

Congratulations to the F.U.N. Lab's senior research assistant, Elizabeth Klinepeter on earning a 2013 Student Leadership Award. The Student Leadership award is given to 10 Notre Dame undergraduates "who best exemplify the spirit of Notre Dame in social, recreational, residental, service and religious activities that promote the welfare of the University and extended communities. "She was nominated in part for her leadership in the Best Buddies program. Elizabeth has accepted a full scholarship to attend the University of Florida for graduate work in School Psychology.

The F.U.N. Lab's senior research assistant, Stephanie Mazur, was featured in the Science Pre-Professional Department's Student Spotlight. We are very proud of Stephanie and of all our wonderful students that work so hard to make the F.U.N. Lab possible. Click here to view the article.

Keywords: Autism, Autism in Indiana, Autism Research at Notre Dame