About Us

The Wilson Motor Lab at UCLA CART

The Wilson Motor Lab is led by Dr. Rujuta Wilson, a behavioral child neurologist specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related Neurodevelopmental Disorders.  

The research conducted at the Wilson Motor Lab aims to (1) develop quantitative methods of motor phenotyping to improve characterization of motor development in neurodevelopmental disorders, (2) better understand how specific motor impairments can impact cognition and language, and (3) develop more targeted interventions for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. We use innovative technology and advanced analytical techniques to characterize and evaluate motor function and development in early childhood through adulthood.

Our work also extends to measuring the benefits of organized physical activity for children with neurodevelopmental disorders. We collaborate with local and national sports organizations to measure the impact of these programs. In October 2019, Dr. Wilson helped establish the Expressive Movement Initiative at UCLA, a 10-week dance program that aims to introduce the art of creative movement and therapeutic dance to children with NDDs. 

Meet Our Team

Rujuta Wilson, MD

Principal Investigator

Dr. Rujuta B. Wilson is a behavioral child neurologist specializing in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and related neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). She is an Assistant Professor in Pediatric Neurology and Psychiatry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) and the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART). She leads the motor phenotyping core of CART and is also a member of the UCLA Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) phenotyping core. 

After completing a combined BA/MD program at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dr. Wilson completed residency in pediatrics and child neurology at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. Dr. Wilson was then the recipient of the Savant Behavioral Neurology Fellowship and completed her behavioral child neurology fellowship at UCLA CART. Dr. Wilson has been committed to research and clinical care for individuals with NDDs and neurogenetic conditions since medical school when she received a Child Neurology Foundation medical student grant to engage in clinical care and research for individuals with NDDs. 

Dr. Rujuta B. Wilson is a behavioral child neurologist specializing in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and related neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). She is an Assistant Professor in Pediatric Neurology and Psychiatry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) and the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART). She leads the motor phenotyping core of CART and is also a member of the UCLA Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) phenotyping core. 

Dr. Wilson’s research is focused on developing quantitative methods of motor phenotyping with the overarching goals of 1) improving characterization of motor development in individuals with developmental disabilities, 2) better understanding how specific motor differences can impact cognition and language, and 3) developing more targeted interventions for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. Her NIH-funded research evaluates motor development in individuals with developmental disabilities across a lifespan. 

Dr. Wilson’s work also extends to measuring the physical and behavioral benefits of organized physical activity for children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Through her clinical practice, Dr. Wilson recognized that motor difficulties experienced by individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities often leads to less engagement in physical activity, which can ultimately have long-term negative impacts on health and wellness. She also recognized the paucity of inclusive and adaptive physical activity interventions available for individuals with developmental disabilities. To target these issues, Dr. Wilson and Ms. Emily Coker (former UCLA medical student and founder of the Expressive Movement Initiative) launched the UCLA chapter of the Expressive Movement Initiative (EMI) in October 2019, a program designed to introduce the art of creative movement and dance to children with developmental disabilities. Dr. Wilson currently serves as the Neurology Node Director of the HRSA Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P). A primary study associated with the AIR-P Neurology Node is a dance intervention for children with developmental disabilities between the ages of 4-17 years old using the EMI model.

Nationally, Dr. Wilson serves as the Vice Chair of the United States Tennis Association Sports Science Committee. As an invited member of the American Academy of Neurology Education Committee, Dr. Wilson serves on numerous workgroups and subcommittees to improve training and education in neurology. Dr. Wilson is also pediatrics and neurology faculty for the UC-LEND program. She is also the chair of the Best Practices Committee for ACEing Autism, a national organization providing weekly tennis classes to children with ASD. 

Dr. Wilson has been selected as a Los Angeles Times Super Doctor, Southern California Rising Stars, and as a Los Angeles Magazine Top Doctor.

See Full Bio ->

Jeff Anderson

Staff Research Associate

Jeff joined the Wilson Motor Lab in June 2021 after receiving his bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science and Music at UC Berkeley. There, he worked with Dr. Mahesh Srinivasan and Dr. Ariel Starr in the Language and Cognitive Development Lab on a study related to child acquisition of a linguistic tool called polysemy. Jeff also completed an honors thesis utilizing behavioral measures to explore  differences in the use of epistemic modal verbs (words that convey probability such as will, won’t, could, and should) by children versus adults. Jeff currently serves as the study coordinator for the Dance for Children with Disabilities Study at the Wilson Motor Lab and helps conduct quantitative gait analysis in autistic individuals across a lifespan.  

Graduate & Undergraduate Student Researchers

Kristal Orta Martinez

UCLA Undergraduate Student Researcher

Emma Burdekin

UCLA DGSOM
Medical Student Researcher

Sebiha Abdullahim

UCLA DGSOM
Medical Student Researcher

Emily Coker

UCLA DGSOM
Medical Student Researcher

Maggie Tsang

UCLA DGSOM
Medical Student Researcher

Joyce Kuo

UCLA Undergraduate Student Researcher

Anusha Chaudhary

UCLA Undergraduate Student Researcher

Sereen Wong

UCLA Undergraduate Student Researcher

Porus H. Karwa

UCLA Undergraduate Student Researcher

Chris Chae

UCLA Undergraduate Student Researcher

Mujtaba Khandoker

UCLA Undergraduate Student Researcher

Chloe Orsini

UCLA Undergraduate Student Researcher

Lab Alumni

Suren Najaryan

UC Davis School of Medicine

Tabitha Safari

University of Washington Human-Centered Design & Engineering Master’s Program

Zara Greer

UCLA, Class of 2018

Abby Ventura

Wake Forest School of Medicine 

Katie Dahlerbruch

Boston University Occupational Therapy PhD Program

Sumana Rallapalli

UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine

Armine Chamichyan

UC Berkeley, Class of 2018

Caroline Rocha

UCSD School of Medicine