Cheryl Dissanayake

Prof Cheryl Dissanayake AM

Developmental Psychologist and Behavioural Scientist; Professor, La Trobe University, Melbourne; Olga Tennison Endowed Chair in Autism Research, Olga Tennison Autism Research Center
Prof Cheryl Dissanayake AM was the Founding Director and inaugural Chair of Australia’s first research centre dedicated to autism: the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre established in 2008. She has been an autism researcher since 1984, when she began her PhD at Monash University. On completion she undertook a postdoctoral fellowship in the Sigman lab at UCLA, and has established and led an active research program since joining La Trobe University in 1996. In addition to her scholarly activities, with numerous grants and publications, she was instrumental in bringing together Victorian and Australian autism researchers, having co-founded the Autism Victoria ASD Research Group (in 2003), the Australasian Autism Research Alliance (in 2005), the Australasian Autism Research Collaboration (in 2009) and the Australasian Society for Autism Research (2011), a member based society of which she was vice-President until 2020, when she was honored with a Lifetime Membership. She was on the bid team and has been a Project Leader in the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (2013-2021). Prof Dissanayake has been recognised as a Research Field Leader for five consecutive years by The Australian (2018-2022) and as one of nine Global Research Leaders in 2020. She was amongst the first 10 scholars to be inaugurated as a Fellow of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) in 2018, and was elected vice-President of INSAR in 2019. She serves on the Senior Global Leaders Committee of INSAR, representing the Western Pacific region, and chairs its Fellows Committee. In 2022, Prof Dissanayake was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences Australia. She was recognised with an Order of Australia (AM) in the same year.

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