Rachel Rivera

Graduate Student
Entry Year: 2020 - 2021
Faculty Mentor(s): Loisa Bennetto

472 Meliora Hall
Fax: (585) 273-1100


Research Overview

My research aims to improve culturally responsive care and mental health outcomes for autistic people. Specifically, I am interested in 1) connections between picky eating and mental/physical health outcomes and 2) the application of the minority stress model to understand mental health outcomes resulting from camouflaging. I am also passionate about prioritizing participatory research, disability advocacy, and intersectionality within my research.

Selected Publications

Selected Presentations

  • Rivera, R. A., Allen, P., and Bennetto, L. (2022, May). Defining and Assessing the Construct of Food Pickiness in Autistic and Neurotypical Adolescents and Young Adults. Presented at the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) 2022 Annual Meeting, Austin, TX, United States.
  • Rivera, R. A., Jaen, J., Alper, R., and McCleery, J. (2020, June). Impacts of Aerobic Exercise VersusRelaxation on Pivotal Response Training Responder Profiles in Nonverbal and Minimally Verbal Children with Autism [Poster Session]. International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) 2020 Annual Meeting, Virtual
  • Rivera, R. A.*, Cichon, B.*, & McCleery, J. (2019, June). Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support: Cura Personalis. Presented at the sixth biennial meeting of the Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network (JUHAN) Student Leadership Conference, Scranton, PA, United States.  *indicates co-first presenters 


  • Fall 2021: Teaching Assistant for Psychology of Gender, University of Rochester
  • Spring 2021: Teaching Assistant for Research Methods, University of Rochester
  • Fall 2020: Teaching assistant for Clinical Psychology, University of Rochester
  • Spring 2020: Teaching assistant for Statistics for the Social Sciences, Lifespan Development, and graduate Advanced Research Methods & Statistics II, Saint Joseph's University
  • Fall 2019: Teaching assistant for Statistics for the Social Sciences, Sleep: Senior Research Seminar, and Autism Spectrum Disorder Co-Occurring Conditions, Saint Joseph's University


  • 2022: Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental & Related Disabilities (LEND) Fellowship
  • 2022: Organization for Autism Research Graduate Research Grant
  • 2020: Graduate Psychology M.S. Award, Saint Joseph's University
  • 2020: Inducted into Alpha Epsilon Lambda National Graduate Students Honor Society, Saint Joseph's University
  • 2019: Inducted into Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology, Saint Joseph's University
  • 2017: Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges & Universities, Villanova University
  • 2013-2017: Dean's List, Villanova University

Additional Information

2018-2020: Saint Joseph's University, M.S. in Experimental Psychology

2017-2018: Eden Autism, Early Childhood & High School Teaching Assistant

2013-2017: Villanova University, B.S. in Biology and Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience, Cum Laude