Sandy Magaña holds the professorship in autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work (UT SSW). She received a master’s in social work from California State University, San Bernardino, and her Ph.D. from the Heller Graduate School of Social Policy at Brandeis University. Magaña completed her postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded Postdoctoral Program in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a faculty member in the UW-Madison School of Social Work for 12 years and later served as a professor in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois (UIC), Chicago. At UIC, Magaña was awarded a center grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) and founded the Family Support Research and Training Center (FSRTC), which she continues to codirect from UT SSW. FSRTC aims to expand the research on family members who provide support and care to people with disabilities across the life course.
Magaña’s research focus is on the cultural context of families who care for persons with disabilities. Her current research includes investigating racial and ethnic disparities among children with autism and developmental disabilities and developing culturally relevant interventions to address these disparities. She has received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research. She is currently working on identifying pathways from identification and diagnosis to evidenced-based treatment for underserved children with autism spectrum disorder.