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.

Faculty Research

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.

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).

Student Involvement

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.