Girl_with_microphoneThe field of Communication Sciences and Disorders is a rapidly growing area of basic and applied research combined with clinical development. The interdisciplinary nature of the field draws from such diverse disciplines as physics, biology, engineering, psychology, linguistics, medicine, and philosophy. Students can focus in one specific area or create an education plan and training that encompasses a range of communicative disorders.

Master’s Thesis Students Completing Interdisciplinary Projects

Four of our second year graduate students – Taylor Creech, Maddie Flynn, Kaitlyn Gilfert, and Audrey Walstrom – are currently working with their faculty advisors to complete a Master’s thesis project. All of these students are completing projects that involve faculty from other disciplines including engineering, athletics, linguistics, and voice performance. You can read more about these projects on our website.

Taylor Creech is working with Dr. Donna Scarborough and Dr. Michael Bailey-Van Kuren of Engineering on the development of a flow-rate controlled smart cup, designed for open-cup drinking in the pediatric population. Her research is part of an iterative design process, which continually improves upon the current cup prototype and computer model, which up until this point have only been tested with water. She has found interdisciplinary research to be particularly important, as it “allows for constructive discussion and a variety of ideas in order to solve a problem.”

Maddie Flynn is conducting her thesis on the level of brain injury knowledge among college students and student athletes. She is working with Dr. Kelly Knollman-Porter and hopes to further define the concussion history in the college student and student athlete population through an online survey. She has said that she loves “being able to explore how we can improve management of concussion at the collegiate level.”

Kaitlyn Gilfert is completing her thesis project with Dr. Amber Franklin in the English Language Learning Pronunciation Lab. Her project is on vowel bidirectionality, specifically identifying vowels that are potentially interchangeable without impacting intelligibility. Her research has applications to adult patients participating in accent modification training, as well as pediatric patients with apraxia of speech, and could eventually translate to prioritizing phonemes during target selection.

Lastly, Audrey Walstrom’s thesis is called, “Use of Terminology and the Effect of Training on Auditory-Perceptual Ratings of Speaking Voice by Expert Teachers of Singing.” The premise behind Audrey’s thesis is that she thinks singers/voice teachers and speech-language pathologists are not communicating as well as they could be about what is heard in disordered voices. Audrey said the ultimate goal is that “voice teachers gain insight into clinical protocol for assessment of voice disorders, helping them interpret our findings if their student is seen in a voice clinic.” Audrey’s mentor is Dr. Renee Gottliebson, and in the future she hopes to integrate her previous experience as a singer and voice teacher into her practice as a clinical voice therapist.

Taylor Creech headshotMaddie Flynn headshotKaitlyn Gilfert headshotAudrey Walstrom headshot
From (L) to (R): Taylor Creech, Maddie Flynn, Kaitlin Gilfert, and Audrey Walstrom