Omar MaximoOmar Maximo
Psychology: Lifespan Developmental Psychology
Mentor: Rajesh Kana
Department of Psychology

I was originally born in Los Angeles, but lived in Mexico (Mexico City and Tijuana) for the most part of my childhood and adolescence. I went to community college to start a career in child psychology, but learned that kids were annoying and decided to pursue a different career. After taking “Intro to Physiological Psychology,” I fell in love with the content and eventually decided to study the brain.

My mind was set to enter a Ph.D. program to become a scientist; however, I lacked the research experience needed for graduate school. Thanks to the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program, I was able to work in a research lab whose main focus was to better understand how the brain works in people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). During my time in this lab, I worked on different projects that led to poster presentations at scientific conferences and one published manuscript. These achievements were key factors for my graduate school applications.

After a rigorous application process, I was accepted to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in the department of psychology where I joined the Cognition, Brain, and Autism (CBRA) laboratory and have been working there for the past 5 years. In addition to research at UAB, I have also been involved in teaching, university/community service and other fun things like studying abroad in India.

Research and Career Interests

Omar Maximo
Psychology: Lifespan Developmental Psychology

I am interested in the human brain and relying on neuroimaging techniques. I have always found it fascinating that we can study the brain without causing any harm to a person. My career interests have shifted a bit, and now I find myself interested in teaching and guiding students to pursue their academic goals.


Omar Maximo
Psychology: Lifespan Developmental Psychology


  • Wadsworth, H.M., Maximo, J.O., Donnelly, R.J., & Kana, R.K. (2018). Action Simulation and Mirroring in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Behavioural Brain Research, 341, 1-8.
  • Maximo, J.O., Murdaugh, D.L., O’ Kelly, S. & Kana, R.K. (2017). Changes in intrinsic local connectivity after reading intervention in children with autism. Brain and Language, 175, 11-17.
  • Murdaugh, D.L., Maximo, J.O., Crider, C., O’Kelly, S.E. & Kana, R.K. (2017). From word reading to multisentence comprehension: Improvements in brain activity in children with autism after reading intervention. Neuroimage: Clinical, 16, 303-312. 
  • Bednarz, H., Maximo, J.O., Murdaugh, D.L., & Kana, R.K. (2017). Decoding versus Comprehension: brain responses underlying reading comprehension in children with autism. Brain and Language, 169, 39-47.
  • Wadsworth, H.M., Maximo, J.O., Lemelman, A.R., Clayton, K., Sivaraman, S., Martin, C.D., Deshpande, H.D., Ver Hoef, L., & Kana, R.K. (2017). The action imitation network and motor imitation in children and adolescents with autism. Neuroscience, 343, 147-156. 
Fall 2017 – 2018: Civitan Emerging Scholar Award
  • Title: The impact of PEERS social skills intervention on brain correlates in autism spectrum disorders
  • Role: Principal Investigator
  • Funding: $25,000
Spring 2017: Diversity Travel Award ($1,000) | International Meeting for Autism Research

What I like about UAB

Omar Maximo
Psychology: Lifespan Developmental Psychology

UAB has excellent resources for the practice of science - theoretical, translational, and medical/clinical. I believe anyone who decides to come to UAB will definitely find their niche and would not be disappointed. UAB has a wide student diversity, which demonstrates that this institution will always support anyone, regardless of gender, place of origin, skin color, religious belief, or sexual preference.

Message to Incoming Students

Omar Maximo
Psychology: Lifespan Developmental Psychology

My message to incoming students is not to navigate graduate school on your own. Find a mentor(s) that can provide help; not only academically, but mentally speaking as well. Do not feel overwhelmed by the environment, as UAB can be daunting because of its vast resources and size. Take advantage of the workshops that are offered every week. Finally, enjoy your time at UAB.