Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) Staff Biographies
Susan Daniels, Ph.D.Acting Director
As Acting Director of Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC), Dr. Daniels provides management for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) and oversees strategic planning, policy, communications, operations and logistical planning activities to support the work of the committee. Dr. Daniels also serves as Executive Secretary of the IACC and its subcommittees. From 2008-2011 she served as Deputy Director of OARC, undertaking many initiatives to enhance the transparency and outreach of the IACC. Prior to that, Dr. Daniels was a Health Scientist Administrator at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), where she worked on policy and communications for the infectious disease and biodefense research programs, and managed a portfolio of research training, diversity and conference grants. Dr. Daniels also previously worked at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) with the Neurodegeneration Program, analyzing Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease research grant portfolios, assisting grant applicants, monitoring progress on the Parkinson's disease research strategic plan, and working collaboratively with stakeholder groups to plan scientific and strategic planning meetings and events. Prior to coming to NIH, Dr. Daniels was a Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow and consultant at the National Academy of Sciences. She received her Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from Brandeis University. Her research focused on the neurobiology and genetics of the sensory nervous system's response to environmental stimuli.
Cyrus Davani, B.A.Scientific Program Analyst
Mr. Cyrus Davani serves as the scientific program analyst for OARC, providing management and administrative support for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. Before joining the NIMH, Mr. Davani worked directly with children and teenagers with developmental disabilities, especially those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). While working at the Kennedy Institute of Catholic Charities and Access Ability Med Care, he planned treatment goals, developed life skills, and fostered an independent environment for children and teenagers in the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Mr. Davani has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Maryland - Baltimore Campus and is currently, pursuing a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Johns Hopkins University.
Nicole Jones, B.B.A.Senior Web Developer
Ms. Jones serves as the Web Developer for OARC where she develops, manages, and edits web content on the IACC web site. During her ten years of progressive information technology experience, she has contributed to successful web projects for both the public and private sector including sites for FannieMae (fanniemae.com), FreddieMac (freddiemac.com), the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) (Healthy People 2010: Midcourse Review), and AOL (aolmedianetworks.com and internal sales portals for the company). She received a bachelor's in business administration (B.B.A.) in Information Systems Analysis and Design from Howard University as well as a Web Specialist certificate from Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland.
Stephanie Mok, A.B.Policy Analyst/Detailee
Ms. Mok is a Policy Analyst detailee and is pursuing a 6-month assignment at the OARC where she collaborates on projects in support of the IACC’s policies, program activities, and publications. At the OARC, Ms. Mok works on communications of scientific advances in autism research for the public and performs analyses in contribution to the IACC Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Plan. Ms. Mok is a recipient of the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholarship and is currently studying the role of genetic factors in the development of social behaviors through a collaboration between the National Institute of Mental Health and Cambridge University. Ms. Mok received her undergraduate degree in neurobiology with a secondary major in health policy from Harvard University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychiatry at Cambridge University. While in Cambridge as a postgraduate student, Ms. Mok consulted for the non-profit organization Oxbridge Roundtable Solutions where she served as Project Manager for clients in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.
Miguelina PerezManagement Analyst
Ms. Perez is the OARC Management Analyst, providing management and administrative support for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. Before joining OARC, Ms. Perez served as Office Manager for the Brain Physiology and Metabolism Section of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), where she managed a lab of five full-time federal employees and 18 visiting fellows. During that time, she also served as the clinical coordinator responsible for recruiting patients for a brain imaging study of dopamine signaling in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Prior to her work in the Federal government, Ms. Perez held several positions with private organizations serving as an office administrator or providing administrative support. She is currently in the process of earning her bachelor's degree in English from the University of the District of Columbia. Ms. Perez hopes to pursue an MBA in organizational management in the future.
Sarah Rhodes, Ph.D.Policy Analyst
Dr. Sarah Rhodes serves as a Policy Analyst, providing support to OARC and the IACC in various activities including analysis of autism research funding, tracking and communicating scientific advances in autism research, development of reports and documents, and responding to inquiries from Congress, government agencies, and public stakeholders. Prior to joining OARC, Dr. Rhodes spent five years in the NIMH Intramural program, first as a postdoctoral Visiting Fellow, and then as a Research Fellow. Her research was primarily focused on understanding the involvement of different brain regions in goal-directed behavior, which is affected in a range of neuropsychological and neurodevelopmental disorders including autism. During this time, Dr. Rhodes detailed twice at OARC, and was selected for a variety of NIH service positions including the Catalyst Editorial Board, Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers, Women Scientist Advisors Committee, and Fellows Committee (FelCom). Dr. Rhodes holds a MA in (Biological) Natural Sciences from Cambridge University, and a PhD in Neuroscience from Cardiff University. Dr. Rhodes is a Senior Fellow of the Institute on Science for Global Policy, Editor of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) Washington Wire, and contributor to the AWIS Magazine.
Kerri WachterScience Writer/Editor
Ms. Wachter is the science writer and editor for OARC, working with a variety of publications, documents and press releases. Prior to her work at OARC, Ms. Wachter was a multimedia reporter for a group of 18 medical specialty newspapers, 15 specialty websites and a medical news wire service. During her time as a medical reporter she covered professional medical organization meetings, FDA/NIH advisory committee meetings and press conferences. Her specialty subjects included oncology, medical imaging, psychiatry and neurology. While a reporter, she created and administered the flagship blog for her news group. She also developed social media guidelines for blogs, Twitter and Facebook. Prior to her work in medical news, she was a radiologic field technician, working on the survey and remediation of contaminated sites. Before that, she covered three towns for a community newspaper group. She holds bachelor’s degrees in journalism and chemistry.