Geraldine Dawson

Geraldine Dawson

William Cleland Distinguished Professor

Geraldine Dawson is the William Cleland Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, where she also is a Professor of Pediatrics and Psychology & Neuroscience.  Dawson also is the Founding Director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, an NIH Autism Center of Excellence, which is an interdisciplinary research program and clinic, aimed to improve the lives of those diagnosed with autism through research, education, clinical services, and policy. Dawson received a Ph.D. in Developmental and Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington and completed a clinical internship at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute.

Dawson's work focuses on improving methods for early detection and intervention for autism, understanding brain function in autism, and validation of autism EEG biomarkers. She co-developed the Early Start Denver Model, an empirically-validated early autism intervention that is used worldwide. She collaborates with colleagues in the departments of computer science and engineering, pediatrics, and biostatistics to develop novel digital health approaches to autism screening and outcome monitoring. 

Dawson previously served as Director of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, President of the International Society for Autism Research, and was appointed by the US Secretary of Health as a member of the NIH Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) which develops the federal strategic plan for autism research, services, and policy. Dawson is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was Founding Director of the University of Washington (UW) Autism Center and the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development. Dawson's awards include the American Psychological Association Distinguished Career Award (Div53); Association for Psychological Science Lifetime Achievement Award; Clarivate Top 1% Cited Researcher Across All Scientific Fields; among others. Dawson is a Fellow of the International Society for Autism Research, the American Psychological Society, and the American Psychological Association. 

Appointments and Affiliations

  • William Cleland Distinguished Professor
  • Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Professor in Pediatrics
  • Affiliate, Duke Global Health Institute
  • Affiliate of the Center for Child and Family Policy

Contact Information


  • University of California, Los Angeles, 1980
  • Ph.D. University of Washington, 1979

Research Interests

Autism, neuroscience

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Elected. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 2020
  • Distinguished Career Award. American Psychological Association. 2019
  • Top 1% Most-Cited Researcher Across All Fields. Clarivate Analytics. 2017
  • President. International Society for Autism Research. 2015
  • James McKeen Cattell Lifetime Achievement Award. Association for Psychological Science. 2012
  • Fellow. Association for Psychological Science. 2006
  • Fellow. Association for Psychological Science. 2006

Courses Taught

  • PSY 494: Research Independent Study
  • PSY 493: Research Independent Study
  • PSY 393: Research Independent Study
  • PSY 203: Practicum

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Krishnappa Babu, PR; Di Martino, JM; Carpenter, KLH; Compton, S; Davis, N; Eichner, B; Espinosa, S; Franz, L; Perochon, S; Dawson, G; Sapiro, G, Large-scale Validation of a Scalable and Portable Behavioral Digital Screening Tool for Autism at Home, Extended Abstracts of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2024) [10.1145/3613905.3650995] [abs].
  • Griffin, JW; Webb, SJ; Keehn, B; Dawson, G; McPartland, JC, Autistic Individuals Do Not Alter Visual Processing Strategy During Encoding Versus Recognition of Faces: A Hidden Markov Modeling Approach., J Autism Dev Disord (2024) [10.1007/s10803-024-06259-9] [abs].
  • Brandsen, S; Chandrasekhar, T; Franz, L; Grapel, J; Dawson, G; Carlson, D, Prevalence of bias against neurodivergence-related terms in artificial intelligence language models., Autism Res, vol 17 no. 2 (2024), pp. 234-248 [10.1002/aur.3094] [abs].
  • Posner, J; Dawson, G, Addressing the Gap in Research Training in Child Psychiatry and Neurodevelopment., J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, vol 63 no. 2 (2024), pp. 105-108 [10.1016/j.jaac.2023.05.026] [abs].
  • Franz, L; Viljoen, M; Askew, S; Brown, M; Dawson, G; Di Martino, JM; Sapiro, G; Sebolai, K; Seris, N; Shabalala, N; Stahmer, A; Turner, EL; de Vries, PJ, Autism Caregiver Coaching in Africa (ACACIA): Protocol for a type 1-hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial., PLoS One, vol 19 no. 1 (2024) [10.1371/journal.pone.0291883] [abs].