Communication Sciences & Disorders
Research in Communication Sciences and Disorders focuses on the emergence, use, loss and re-acquisition of human communication skills across the lifespan. We aim to address core questions about communicative cues (particularly nonverbal ones, like facial expressions/movements and gestures), and how variations in the use of communicative cues might be associated with deficits, or, conversely, support healthy development.
Kelly Farquharson is director of the Children's Literacy and Speech Sound (CLaSS) lab where she studies the cognitive, linguistic, orthographic, and environmental factors that influence how children with speech and language disorders acquire literacy skills. Aiming to help children with speech and language disorders achieve classroom success, her research focuses on the following questions: How do children with speech sound disorders achieve literacy success? How does memory contribute to speech sound production and literacy? How can speech-language pathologists (SLPs) be better supported to help children with speech sound disorders? What happens when SLPs are not satisfied in their jobs and are not able to provide quality therapy to children?
Ruth Grossman’s work as director of the FACElab explores non-verbal communication in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Using infrared motion capture and eye-tracking technologies, she focuses on quantifying how children with and without ASD produce and understand facial expressions and tone of voice. The goal of her research is to better understand how subtle differences in production and perception of facial and vocal expressions can have significant impact on social interactions. Ruth Grossman’s work is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, as well as the Emerson College Faculty Advancement Fund Grant and Consumer Awareness Project.
Daniel Kempler has published extensively on a range of neurogenic communication disorders including aphasia, dementia and parkinson’s disease. He has developed numerous assessment measures to help clinicians and researchers evaluate language and cognitive disorders. Current research focuses on the effectiveness of verbal treatments for recovery of communication following stroke.
Joanne Lasker’s research focuses on assessment and intervention for adults living with chronic aphasia who are exploring strategies to improve participation in their daily lives. She collaborated with a colleague to create an on-line assessment tool designed to help clinicians determine which types of AAC intervention may be most appropriate for people with aphasia. She has received internal funding (Emerson Faculty Advancement Fund Grant) to systematically investigate a treatment technique combining speech generating devices and speech practice for adults with apraxia of speech.
Kempler & Lasker are currently collaborating on an investigation of how speech intelligibility and communicative competence affect the way individuals with aphasia are perceived in the community.
Rhiannon Luyster (director of the Language in Infants + Toddlers Lab at Emerson, or LI+TLE Lab) focuses on the emergence of early social communication and language skills in children, with and without communication impairments. In particular, her research is aimed at better understanding development in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She wants to answer questions about why young children may have difficulty acquiring communication skills and whether environmental modifications can improve children’s mastery of these early, fundamental abilities. Her research is supported by internal funding (Emerson College Faculty Advancement Fund Grant) as well as external awards (National Science Foundation, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, Marion & Jasper Whiting Foundation).
Emerson graduate students are strongly encouraged to become involved in faculty research. Opportunities may include paid or volunteer Research Assistantships, clinical research within the Robbins Speech Language and Hearing Center (RSLHC) leading to presentations at professional conferences, or master’s theses. Recent topics for projects involving students include:
Baby Signs: The Parental Experience
Voice Perceptions of Speakers with Parkinson’s Disease
Construct Validity of the AAC-Aphasia Categorical Framework
Motor Learning Guided (MLG) Treatment for Apraxia of Speech: Lessons About Candidacy From Three Case Studies
Perceptions of the Classroom-Based Service Model of Speech-Language Therapy in the Educational Setting
Examining Divided Attention Under Delayed Auditory Feedback Using Random Number Generation
Constraint Induced Language Therapy: A Case Study
Human Figure Drawings of Preschool-Aged Children with Autism
Gaze Patterns to Virtual vs. Natural Dynamic Faces
Language in Two Modes: An exploratory study of the Bimodal Assessment of Bilingual Language (BABL)
Bilingual Home Intervention in a Preschooler
Expertise of School-based SLPs who Work with Students who Speak African American English
If you are interested in getting involved in research in Communication Sciences and Disorders, please contact the relevant faculty member(s) for more information.