Autism Speaks welcomes Dr. Russell Shilling to the Medical and Science Advisory Committee

November 6, 2023
Dr. Russell Shilling

Autism Speaks is pleased to announce that Russell Shilling, Ph.D., has joined our Medical and Science Advisory Committee. The committee provides continual guidance to Autism Speaks leadership on achieving our scientific mission of driving research and innovation that advances care for autistic individuals and their families.

Dr. Shilling’s career has been dedicated to using innovations in technology to improve education, training and psychological health. Beyond his professional pursuits, Dr. Shilling and his wife are devoted parents to two adult sons with autism, tirelessly advocating for programs that support individuals with autism and their families and caregivers.

“Current models of service delivery for autistic individuals are woefully inadequate for a large section of our community,” says Andy Shih, Ph.D., chief science officer at Autism Speaks. “Dr. Shilling’s experience leveraging technology to drive social impact will be critical as Autism Speaks continues to push for the development of more modern and efficient digital health solutions around the world.”

Dr. Shilling is a former Navy Captain, aerospace experimental psychologist and program officer at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where he led programs on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and affective computing for psychological health and created new approaches to using games and novel analytics strategies for STEM education.

Before his time at DARPA, he created the first Department of Defense (DoD) sponsored research programs on virtual reality (VR) to treat PTSD. He did extensive work on using games to improve training and education. While on active duty, he produced award-winning programs with Sesame Workshop to help military children cope with deployments, injury and grief. 

Transitioning from military service, he assumed the role of executive director of STEM initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama Administration. He played a pivotal role in shaping education policy and fostering collaboration on STEM initiatives across federal agencies, including coordination with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Continuing this mission, Dr. Shilling became the chief scientific officer at the American Psychological Association, advocating for evidence-based research and policy development. He advises government entities, startups, venture capitalists and major philanthropic organizations, championing innovative research and development to create technologies with positive social impact. Moreover, he's committed to shaping policies ensuring the safe use of AI in education.