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Mackenzie Fowler
March 28, 2024

Psychology Major’s Research Empowers Families with Autism

Mackenzie Fowler ’24 has a passion for helping parents of children with autism. As a psychology major with minors in applied behavior analysis (ABA) and art, she plans to work as a board-certified behavior analyst in school environments. Mackenzie’s undergraduate research, study abroad experience and campus job taught her to apply textbook knowledge in the real world and deepened her commitment to the field of psychology.

A required introductory course sparked Mackenzie’s interest in psychology, and a subsequent ABA class introduced her to the science of therapy. She later applied for an internship with a local clinic, C.A.B.S. Autism & Behavior Specialists, where she became a registered behavior technician and began focusing on early intervention with families and parents.


Awarded the psychology department’s George Scholar grant, Mackenzie asked her professor and advisor, Assistant Professor of Psychology Miguel Ampuero, to partner with her on a project. Their research supports parents teaching communication skills to their children with autism. Mackenzie is investigating how much training parents need and how to make it faster and more efficient. Younger psychology students have joined the project, growing undergraduate research opportunities at Berry while giving Mackenzie more mentoring practice.

Her job as the student director of the alumni center also reinforces her supervisory skills: “This role is less focused on discovery and more on professional management experiences such as event planning and building schedules. Here, I’m learning how to manage a work environment and growing professionally in a different way.”


Mackenzie also pursued a summer international program in Peru, saying it was a significant step out of her comfort zone and her most formative college experience. Each year, Berry professors accompany students abroad as they navigate special topics classes and engage in related cultural and professional work. The program coordinators assigned Mackenzie’s group to autism clinics and a special needs school implementing new behavior intervention plans in the classroom.

“If C.A.B.S. helped affirm that I wanted to work in behavior analysis, this trip really solidified it,” she says. “It was amazing to see the basics of the clinics were similar but with cultural differences. It was also neat to see the new program taking shape.”

Recalling how her learning and career possibilities expanded throughout college, Mackenzie is grateful for the ways Ampuero helped shape her future.

“Dr. Ampuero has guided me in so many areas,” says Mackenzie. “He taught several of my classes at Berry, then led me through coursework and practical, real-world experiences in Peru. He also acts as my research advisor, and we plan to publish a paper on our work. He has supported me through every step of my academic and professional decisions in psychology.”

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