Program Directors


Brittany G. Travers, PhDBrittany G. Travers, PhD
Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy Program in Department of Kinesiology

Brittany G. Travers joined the faculty of University of Wisconsin-Madison in August of 2014 as an assistant professor in the Occupational Therapy Program in the Department of Kinesiology. In her first years as faculty, she has established a strong track record of independent funding and publication, and she was bestowed the Young Investigator Award by the International Society for Autism Research in May of 2016. Travers’s research program – the Motor Lab – housed at the Waisman Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, combines neuroimaging measures with quantitative measures of motor function, cognition, and daily living skills in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Her work is inherently interdisciplinary, as Travers is a trained cognitive psychologist who received interdisciplinary postdoctoral training in developmental disorders and biomedical physics.


Doug Dean, III, PhD

Douglas C. Dean III, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Medical Physics

Douglas C. Dean III is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Medical Physics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He received his undergraduate education at The College of William and Mary in Physics and his PhD from Brown University in Engineering. Prior to joining the UW–Madison faculty in July 2019, he completed a T32 postdoctoral training program in intellectual and developmental disabilities at the Waisman Center. Dr. Dean’s research program – the Developing Brain Imaging Lab – is focused on advancing knowledge about brain and child development. At the heart of this research is the development and application of quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to probe structural, functional, and microstructural features of the brain. He is particularly interested in the role of white matter and myelination on brain development and function. Dean’s research is highly interdisciplinary, combining aspects of neuroscience, psychology, cognitive science, and genetics to discover how the brain develops as we grow and learn and understand how various environmental and genetic factors influence early neurodevelopment. Dr. Dean was a recipient of the NIH K99/R00 Pathways to Independence Award and currently is the UW–Madison site PI for the Healthy Brain and Child Development (HBCD) study.

Founding Directors:

Marsha Mailick, PhDMarsha R. Mailick, PhD
Emeritus Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education

Marsha R. Mailick is an emeritus vice chancellor for research and graduate education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison). She received her undergraduate education at the UW-Madison in Psychology and Sociology, and her PhD in social policy from Brandeis University. She was on the faculty of Boston University before joining UW-Madison in 1988. From 2002 until 2014, she served as Director of the Waisman Center. She is the author of more than 200 publications. The focus of Dr. Mailick’s research is on the life course trajectory of developmental disabilities. She is interested in how the behavioral phenotype of specific developmental disabilities, including autism, fragile X syndrome, and Down syndrome, changes during adolescence, adulthood, and old age. In addition, she studies how the family environment affects the development of individuals with disabilities during these stages of life, and reciprocally how parents and siblings of individuals with disabilities are affected. Her current research includes three projects: a 14-year longitudinal study of autism during adolescence and adulthood, research on a demographically-representative sample of parents of individuals with developmental disabilities, and a study of family adaptation to fragile X syndrome (FXS). She recently completed an epidemiological study of the premutation of FXS and a 20-year follow up of a cohort of older adults with Down syndrome, examining how the family environment shapes outcomes in midlife and old age. Together, these studies offer insights about developmental disabilities across the life course, and the impacts on families.


Seth Pollak, PhDSeth D. Pollak, PhD
College of Letters and Science
Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Anthropology, and Pediatrics

Seth Pollak holds the College of Letters and Science Distinguished Professorship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also holds appointments in the UW Departments of Pediatrics, Biological Anthropology, Neuroscience and Public Affairs. Pollak received dual PhDs in child clinical psychology and brain & cognitive sciences from the University of Rochester, earned a master’s degree in child development from Harvard University, and studied philosophy of mind at Oxford University. A Waisman Center IDDRC investigator since 1997, his research examines environmental risk factors on children’s brain and behavioral development, with particular focus on emotions and children’s health. His research is highly interdisciplinary, incorporating psychophysiological, experimental, hormonal, and epigenetic methods. Pollak has published more than 150 articles across a variety of sub-disciplines. His research has been funded continuously by the NIH since 2000. He is currently the chair of the clinical and the developmental graduate programs within the Department of Psychology. Pollak has been a visiting professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute and a visiting fellow at the American Academy in Rome. He has been the recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health fellowship in developmental psychopathology, the Boyd-McCandless Award for Distinguished Contributions to Child Development, and the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association for Psychological Science. Pollak also serves on the governing council of the Society for Research in Child Development.