Western Research Day

2022 Keynote

Dr. Yanerys Leon is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology of the University of Miami (ABA Master’s Program), co-director of the Intensive Behavior Intervention Services (IBIS) Clinic, and Director of Applied Research and Behavioral Training at UM-NSU CARD. Dr. Leon, a Florida native, began her training in behavior analysis as an undergraduate student at the University of Florida. She earned her master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) while working in both clinical and research roles at Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Neurobehavioral Unit. She completed her doctoral training in behavior analysis at the Florida Institute of Technology. Dr Leon has spent the last decade training undergraduate and master’s level practitioners in behavior analysis. In her current role as faculty in the ABA Master’s Program at UM, Dr. Leon teaches advanced graduate courses in Applied Behavior Analysis and supervises graduate practicum students completing their fieldwork requirements and conducting their capstone research. Dr. Leon’s current research interests can be broadly categorized into the following: a) refinements and extensions of functional analysis and function-based treatment, b) conditioned social and token reinforcement in application for individuals with ASD and IDD, and c) technological extensions of behavioral interventions. Dr. Leon was named the 2021 recipient of the BF Skinner Foundation Applied New Researcher award presented by Division 25 of the American Psychological Association and currently serves on the Board of Editors of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. In her role as Division Director of Applied Research and Behavioral Consultation at UM-NSU CARD, Dr. Leon provides programmatic and consultative behavioral support to professionals (e.g., schools, hospitals) working with individuals with ASD and IDD.

The title of her presentation will be:

Token Economies for Individuals with Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Bridging the Research to Practice Gap 


Reinforcement is a cornerstone of applied behavior analysis interventions. Despite the ubiquitous use of praise and tokens (i.e., conditioned reinforcers) in clinical and applied contexts (Graff and Karsten, 2012), there is a paucity of research examining best practice for arranging conditioned reinforcement systems for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In this presentation, I will discuss some considerations for establishing and arranging tokens as reinforcers in applied contexts based on basic research findings as well as applied research conducted in my lab. Furthermore, I will highlight some disconnects between basic and applied research and common applications of token systems. Finally, I will propose areas for future translational research on conditioned reinforcement and, more broadly, the need for further investigation of operant-respondent interactions.