Research Team

Justin Leaf, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Director of Training and Co-Director of Research

Dr. Justin Leaf is the Director of Training and Co-Director of Research for the Autism Partnership Foundation. Justin received his master’s degree in Applied Behavioral Science and his doctorate degree in Behavioral Psychology in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas. Justin worked directly under the mentorship of Dr. James Sherman and Dr. Jan Sheldon.

Justin has over ten years of clinical and research experience working with children, adolescents, and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. His research interests include looking at ways to improve social skills for children and adolescents with ASD, developing friendships, comparing different teaching methodologies, and evaluating long term outcomes for children and adolescents diagnosed with ASD. Justin has taught graduate level courses in applied behavior analysis and research methodologies. Additionally, Justin has published many articles in peer reviewed journals, published several book chapters, has presented at state, national, and international conferences, and has consulted on research projects nationally and internationally.

You can reach Justin Leaf at Jblautpar@aol.com


Joe Cihon, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Co-Director of Research

Joe Cihon is the Co-Director of Research for the Autism Partnership Foundation. Joe received his bachelor’s degree in special education from Fontbonne University, master’s degree in behavior analysis at the University of North Texas under the mentorship of Dr. Shahla Alai-Rosales, Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz, and Dr. Manish Vaidya, and his doctoral degree at Endicott College under the mentorship of Dr. Mary Jane Weiss. Joe has over fifteen years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities in home, school, and community settings. His research interests include evaluating approach based interventions, shaping, increasing favorable interactions among children, their families, and interventionists, developing contingencies to promote generalization and maintenance, and improving mealtimes for selective eaters. Joe has published and served as a reviewer for several prominent journals and presented research at national and international conferences.

You can reach Joe Cihon at jcihon@autismpartnership.com


Julia Ferguson, M.S., BCBA

Research and Assessment Coordinator

Julia Ferguson is the Research and Assessment Coordinator for Autism Partnership Foundation. Julia received her bachelor’s degree in applied behavior analysis and her master’s degree in behavior analysis from the University of North Texas under the mentorship of Dr. Shahla Ala’i-Rosales and Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz. Julia has over 7 years of experience working with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in home, school, community, and clinical settings. Her research interests include evaluating social skills interventions for individuals diagnosed with ASD, staff training, and evaluating best practice interventions and comparing different teaching methodologies for individuals diagnosed with ASD. Julia has published several articles in peer reviewed journals, authored book chapters, and has presented at national and international conferences.

You can reach Julia Ferguson at JFergusonAutPar@aol.com


Christine Milne, M.S., BCBA

Research Coordinator

Christine Milne is the Research Coordinator for Autism Partnership Foundation. Christine received her bachelor’s degree in cognitive sciences at the University of California, Irvine and received her master’s degree in applied behavior analysis from St. Cloud State University. Christine is currently attending a doctorate program in applied behavior analysis at Endicott College. Christine has over 9 years of experience working with individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), leading social skills groups, training staff, consulting, and supervising client cases. Her research interests include social skills interventions for individuals diagnosed with ASD, research on behaviorally based social skills groups, and staff training. Christine has published several articles in peer reviewed journals, served as a reviewer for peer reviewed journals, and has presented at national and international conferences.

You can reach Christine Milne at CMautpar@aol.com

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