The faculty in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences have a long history of significant scholarly contributions. Their research has been published in highly respected scholarly journals and presented at state, regional, national and international meetings. The department is home to state of the art research laboratories.
The following provides a brief overview of our areas of research:
Balance Laboratory - Dr. Robin Criter
We study balance and fall risk in older adults, the effects of concussion and traumatic brain injury on the vestibular and balance systems, and the effects of anxiety on postural control.
Communication and Neurodiversity Lab - Dr. Laura DeThorne
Dr. DeThorne’s research examines the multiple factors that shape children’s communicative competence in everyday contexts, with a particular interest in the social communication practices related to autism, childhood apraxia of speech, and use of augmentative and alternative communication. She is also interested models of disability and the application of the Neurodiversity paradigm to the field of communication sciences and disorders.
Neurogenic Communication Intervention Lab - Dr. Suma Devanga
We aim to bridge the clinical-functional gap in managing acquired neurogenic communication disorders by studying intervention approaches that better help individuals with aphasia and other neurogenic communication disorders to communicate in everyday life. Our research typically involves discourse analyses of conversation samples from target participants and their communication partners in different settings.
Lab of Aerodigestive Research - Dr. Matthew Dumican
Dr. Dumican's research focuses on how the airway and upper digestive tract work in swallowing, both in neurogenic causes of swallow dysfunction and healthy individuals. Current work in the lab is examining how swallowing disorders present in people with Parkinson's disease, as well as how neuromuscular treatments improve swallow function post-stroke. The long-term goal of this research is to improve upper airway protection, swallow function, and quality of life, for people experiencing dysphagia.
Stuttering and Psychosocial Outcomes Research Lab - Dr. Hope Gerlach
Dr. Gerlach’s research focuses on identifying and reducing disparities in quality of life between people who stutter and typically fluent speakers. Currently, she is studying the ways in which people who stutter respond to stigma and how these responses (e.g., concealing stuttering) relate to quality of life. This work, in part, involves investigating how people who stutter situate stuttering into their sense of identity.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Studies - Dr. Yvette Hyter
We study the social communication skills of children affected by abuse, neglect, and prenatal alcohol exposure. Our research also focuses on the development of curriculum units about the consequences of globalization on literacy definitions and the implications of language policies in the U. S. Midwest and Senegal, West Africa.
Neurogenic Communication Disorders - Dr. Linda Shuster
We study brain mechanisms underlying speech production and perception, as well as acquired neurogenic communication disorders, such as apraxia of speech. Methodologies we employ include functional neuroimaging, acoustic analysis, and perceptual analysis. Our ultimate goal is to identify ways to help people recover their communication skills to the greatest extent possible after a brain injury and ways to maintain their communication skills as long as possible in the presence of neurodegenerative disease.