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Brittany Krekeler

Student-faculty mentorship promotes success

Donna Scarborough
Donna Scarborough

Brittany Krekeler experiences Miami’s devotion to student learning

Miami continues to makes headlines for its emphasis on academics – it’s 1st for public universities in the U.S. News & World Report rankings for commitment to undergraduate teaching (third nationally behind Dartmouth and Princeton) – but what does that really mean on a personal level? For one student, building a relationship with a faculty member meant new opportunities, insights and more.

Brittany Krekeler, a member of Miami’s 2013 graduating class, completed her degree in speech pathology and audiology and is moving on to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin.
From the classroom to the lab and beyond
Krekeler’s passion for her studies led one of her professors, Donna Scarborough, to take notice.

“Brittany came into my lab following one of my undergraduate courses. She showed some incredible aptitudes that, at the time, I said that I could use a student with these kinds of skills and that kind of passion,” Scarborough recalled.

Scarborough said she sees students’ potential in the classroom and often recruits those students to help with her research.

“Typically, there are students who have demonstrated in some of their earlier classes that they are thinking about or asking questions that are above and beyond. I love working with the undergrads, and I think it is fun,” she said.

Scarborough’s project involved researching possible treatments for dysphasia. “Basically swallowing disorders,” Krekeler explained.

Patients with these disorders may have trouble going to the dentist or even eating because of their heightened gag reflexes. Krekeler’s research aided in the development of a glove-like device that applies pressure to a patient’s hand to help reduce the gag reflex.

Being involved in research at Miami helps students to broaden their horizons and learn valuable skills.

“Doing research with Dr. Scarborough has definitely impacted my undergraduate experience as well as my future education and eventually my career. It sparked my interest in the research aspect of my field and gave me good lab background for admittance to grad school. She was also an awesome resource in the application process and worked closely with me to help make my ultimate decision to do research at UW,” she added.

Scarborough said she was excited to see Krekeler’s knowledge of and interest in her research.

“It has been fun to see her interview around the country at some outstanding programs. And because of the research she has gained here, she has her foot in the door.”
Making it matter at Miami

According to Scarborough, it’s important for advisers to help students understand where their passions lie. For students like Krekeler that passion was research and connecting the dots of her studies.

“For dysphasia and swallowing disorders specifically, it is really neurally connected, and my minor is neuroscience. So I think it is cool that my research connects to everything I am learning. It is making me get a lot of good experience for grad school and what I could possibly do in grad school, and I love that,” explained Krekeler. 

Scarborough added a final message to students determining their future majors and careers, “If your eyes don’t light up, then you probably aren’t in the right field. And that is ok; find what makes your eyes light up.”

Written by Jessica Barga (Miami ’15), student intern, University Communications and Marketing

Published June 2013

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Speech Pathology

Speech-language pathologists help diagnose and treat patients.

SLPs (Speech-Language Pathologists) help diagnose and treat patients with speech, language and communication and swallowing disorders. They can be found working in a variety of places including schools, hospitals, nursing homes, colleges and research labs.

Gag-reflex device nearer to reality

A medical device designed for dental patients and others that suppresses the gag-reflex via a novel glove device is poised for the market. 

The story of the patent-pending device, in development for several years by a team of Miami professors, involves an interdisciplinary group of undergraduate students in an entrepreneurship class, Miami's office of technology transfer and business partnerships and the agreement between Miami and PharynMed.

PharynMed plans to develop, market and sell the patent-pending device invented by Donna Scarborough, associate professor of speech pathology and audiology, and Michael Bailey-Van Kuren, associate professor of mechanical and manufacturing engineering. The glove-like acupressure device diminishes the gag-reflex in speech therapy and in people who are sensitive to activities such as dental procedures or taking pills.

The company is a result of a student project in an entrepreneurship capstone class in Miami’s Farmer School of Business. Joseph (Jay) Kayne, Cintas Chair in Entrepreneurship; Wayne Speer, Markley Visiting Professor in Entrepreneurship; and Jim Oris, associate provost for research and scholarship, conceived of the idea of using the anti-gag device as a test case for the student capstone group.

The student team pursued a business and marketing plan for the device during its capstone semester in fall 2009 and through a semester at the RedHawk Hatchery, a program designed to help Miami entrepreneurship students develop potential businesses by the time they graduate. Along the way the group won several regional awards for its business plan.

The entrepreneurship team includes Miami graduates Benjamin (Wiley) Burch, interdisciplinary business management major; Alexandria (Lexi) Lucchesse, speech communication major and entrepreneurship minor; Kevin Nelson, finance major; and Chris Blanchard, general engineering major and entrepreneurship minor.

West Chester
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