Who Are the Scientists Probing the Biology Behind Autism?

Who are the scientists who devote their careers to studying autism — arguably one of the most challenging neurodevelopmental conditions to explain? And what does that say about them? About the field? That’s exactly what Spectrum magazine (www.spectrumnews.org) — the leading source for expert news and opinion on autism science — sought to answer with its fifth annual book, “Chronicle of a Field Retold: Autism Science in Profile,” freely available for download on the site today.
The book opens with a surprising retelling of the field’s first movers: In “The new history of autism,” journalist David Dobbs reveals the scientists whose forgotten contributions predated or enabled those of Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger, long credited as the sole founders of autism research. The story features original collage illustrations by award-winning graphic designer Alex Merto and rare photos discovered only two years ago in the archives of a Moscow clinic named after the pioneering child psychiatrist Grunya Sukhareva.
“Autism Science in Profile” continues with a tour of today’s key players, organized alphabetically. These scientist profiles show that autism researchers are, perhaps unsurprisingly, a heterogeneous bunch. Not only do their academic areas of interest vary widely, but outside of the lab they are marathon runners, mountaineers, bicyclists and basketball coaches; foodies, yogis, musicians and spelling-bee champions; former teachers, farmers, Peace Corps volunteers and emergency medical technicians.
For all of their differences, more than a few share deep connections to autism and disability, and core descriptions about them recur — creative, persistent, adaptable and collaborative. Published over the past 12 years, the profiles have been updated in this volume to include the scientists’ highly cited papers, compiled using Clarivate’s Web of Science, and 2022 news from the researchers themselves about career shifts and significant recent accomplishments.
“We hope these pages show autism research in an exciting time of flux, propelled by what these scientists care about, what questions drive their work and where they think the field is headed next,” says Spectrum’s deputy editor, Kristin Ozelli.
End pages for various sections include QR codes to additional profiles and “beyond the bench” portraits of scientists’ lives outside the lab. Additional spreads feature an illustration that begins to trace eight decades of apprenticeship among autism researchers and a gatefold list of 40 up-and-coming scientists under 40 years old — both informed by asking our sources and profile subjects about significant mentor relationships during their careers. 
Like Spectrum’s previous two titles, “Chronicle of a Field Retold: Autism Science in Profile” was designed by award-winning graphic designer Catherine Casalino. The book also features original profile illustrations by Rebecca Clarke.
Source: Spectrum