OARC Staff Biographies
Susan Daniels, Ph.D.
As Director of the Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC), Dr. Daniels provides management for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), a federal advisory committee created by Congress to coordinate federal activities and provide advice to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on issues related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Dr. Daniels serves as the Executive Secretary of the IACC, and oversees strategic planning, policy, communications, operations and logistical planning activities to support the work of the committee. Dr. Daniels also serves as the Senior Advisor to the NIMH Director for Autism Activities, acting as a liaison with external agencies and groups on issues related to ASD. From 2008-2011, Dr. Daniels served in the roles of Acting Director and Deputy Director of OARC, undertaking many initiatives to enhance the transparency and outreach of the IACC. Prior to that, Dr. Daniels worked at two other NIH institutes, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Before 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.
Oni Celestin, Ph.D.
Science Policy Analyst
Dr. Celestin is a Science Policy Analyst in the OARC, where she supports the IACC by performing analyses, reporting, and strategic planning. Prior to joining OARC, Dr. Celestin was a Science Associate and AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation, working in grant administration, science communication, and science policy. Dr. Celestin completed postdoctoral training in lipid transport and metabolism at the Carnegie Institution for Science, and she received her Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from the University of Chicago, studying the development of the brain. She also received a B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Ben Feldman, M.A., Ph.D.
Science Policy Analyst
Dr. Feldman is a Science Policy Analyst at the OARC, where he conducts analysis to support the IACC’s policy decisions, strategic planning, and reporting activities. Prior to joining the NIMH, Dr. Feldman worked as a school psychologist for PSI (Partners for Success and Innovation), OH, and as an adjunct faculty member of the Psychology Department at Cleveland State University. He earned an MA and Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Case Western Reserve University, specializing in intellectual and developmental disabilities research. He has published and presented his research on both autism and Prader-Willi Syndrome. His dissertation explored face processing abilities in parents and siblings of people with autism, looking for indicators of the broad autism phenotype. Before earning a Ph.D., Dr. Feldman earned an MA in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College - Columbia University and worked for ten years as a Masters level clinician/counselor in the field of intellectual/developmental disabilities at Queens Centers for Progress, NY. He holds a BA from St. John’s College, MD, in Philosophy and the History of Math & Science.
Rebecca Martin, M.P.H.
Public Health Analyst
Ms. Martin is a Public Health Analyst at OARC and focuses on outreach activities, including enhancing web content, social media use, and increasing engagement with the autism community. Ms. Martin received her M.P.H. in Health Behavior and Health Education, with a special focus on Health Communication, from the University of Michigan. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland.
Angelice Mitrakas, B.A.
Mrs. Mitrakas is the Management Analyst, providing management and administrative support for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. Before joining OARC, Mrs. Mitrakas worked as the Operations Coordinator for the Extramural Administrative Service Branch (EASB) at the National Institute of Mental Health. There she worked as the liaison between management, program directors, and administrative officers with regards to program administrations. She also worked at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) where she was a Support Assistant providing executive level administrative support where she was able to utilize her skills in entrepreneurship and small business management. Mrs. Mitrakas received her Bachelors in Linguistics and Translation from Wilson College.
Karen Mowrer, Ph.D.
Science Policy Analyst
Dr. Mowrer is a Science Policy Analyst at OARC, where she conducts analyses assisting with the development of reports, strategic plans, policy documents, and responses to inquiries on policy issues related to autism spectrum disorder. Before joining OARC, Dr. Mowrer worked on biomedical research policy issues at Lewis-Burke Associates, a government relations and consulting firm representing universities and scientific organizations. She also previously gained science policy experience as a Legislative Affairs Officer at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and as a Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences. Prior to her policy career, Dr. Mowrer studied the molecular pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease as a Postdoctoral Intramural Research Training Award Fellow at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). She received her Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry & Molecular Pharmacology from Harvard Medical School, where her dissertation research focused on Alzheimer’s disease, and she graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S. in Biochemistry.
Julianna Rava, M.P.H.
Science Policy Analyst
Ms. Rava is a Science Policy Analyst at the OARC, performing research and analyses in support of the IACC’s strategic planning, analytical, and reporting activities. Ms. Rava received her bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences at Gettysburg College and her Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology at Drexel University. While at Drexel University, she worked under Dr. Paul Shattuck, Director of the Life Course Outcomes Research Program, at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute researching the experiences and needs of young adults on the autism spectrum.
Jeffrey Wiegand, B.S.
Web Development Manager
Mr. Wiegand serves as the Web Development Manager at the OARC, in support of the IACC website. His responsibilities include web design, front and backend development, database administration, 508 compliance, and content management. Before joining OARC, Mr. Wiegand worked for a media company, serving in various roles including Quality Assurance Manager, Project Manager, and Senior Web Developer. Mr. Wiegand has a Bachelor of Science degree in Information and Computer Science from University of Maryland University College, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communication from Frostburg State University.