She is the Director of the UCLA Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Clinic and holds a Diplomate in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). She is Training Director for the Lanterman/UCLA Training grant designed to train clinical psychology interns and post doctoral fellows in developmental disabilities.
Dr. O'Connor is a child clinical psychologist who has served on the UCLA School of Medicine faculty since joining the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences in 1981. Dr. O'Connor earned her B.A. in psychology at Wake Forest University and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at UCLA. She holds a specialty board certification in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (ABPP) and has taught medical students, psychiatry residents, child psychiatry fellows, and clinical psychology interns for over 30 years. She is a recipient of the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences Outstanding House Staff Teaching Award. She is currently the Training Director for the Tarjan Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and the Training Director for the UCLA Developmental Disabilities Track in Clinical Child Psychology. The overarching emphasis of Dr. O’Connor’s research career has been the development, evaluation, and dissemination of empirically supported assessment and treatment methods for high-risk children. Her early work focused on the longitudinal outcome of children with premature birth. Her current work examines psychosocial and psychiatric risk due to prenatal alcohol exposure.
Dr. O’Connor has conducted research on the prevention of alcohol consumption in pregnant women, intervention for children and adolescents with prenatal alcohol exposure, and medical and allied health education on prevention, diagnosis and treatment. More recent research has focused on the neurobiology of prenatal alcohol exposure using neuroimagining techniques to better understand neurobehavioral outcomes. Dr. O’Connor currently has over 80 publications. All of Dr. O’Connor’s funded research (CDC, NIAAA, NIDA) has focused on collaborative national initiatives with the long-term goal of developing best practice models to be disseminated on local, state, and national levels.
Dr. O'Connor has served on a number of national panels as an expert in prenatal alcohol exposure. She has served on the National Task Force for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effects, an appointed body that reports directly to Congress. Most recently, she served as an expert panel member for the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Center of Excellence sponsored by SAMHSA. She is a member of the Diagnostic Work Group of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and was a member of a subcommittee tasked with the development of diagnostic criteria for inclusion of Neurobehavioral Disorder Associated with Prenatal Alcohol Exposure (ND-PAE) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-Version 5.