Meet our PhD Students

Allison Aaron is a doctoral student in the Sensorimotor Rehabilitation Engineering Lab led by Dr. Cara Stepp. Allison received her MS in communication sciences and disorders with a concentration in voice at Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions and a BA in vocal performance and psychology at Bucknell University. Prior to starting her doctoral studies, she worked as a voice-specialized speech-language pathologist at Stony Brook University Hospital. Allison is interested in understanding the role of auditory perception in voice production for individuals with vocal hyperfunction as well as assessment of voice change in gender diverse populations. Her long-term goal is to conduct clinical voice research in order to improve therapeutic outcomes and advance patient care.


Erin Carpenter is a doctoral student in the Aphasia Research Laboratory led by Professor Swathi Kiran. Erin received her MS in speech-language pathology from Boston University in 2020 prior to beginning her doctoral studies. She received a BS in communication sciences and disorders and Spanish with minors in linguistics and rehabilitation and human services from Pennsylvania State University in 2018. Erin is interested in the interplay between language and cognition in bilingual and monolingual adults with aphasia. She is also interested in factors that drive recovery and neuroplasticity following stroke in these populations. Erin’s career goals include obtaining a faculty position at a research university and continuing to conduct clinical research relating to language and cognitive impairments and recovery post-stroke.


Nicole Carvalho is a doctoral student in the Aphasia Research Laboratory led by Dr. Swathi Kiran. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Nicole received her BS in psychology with minors in biology and Portuguese from the University of Miami. She worked as an neuroimaging data analyst at the Frontotemporal Dementias Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. Nicole is interested in the neural basis of language in monolingual and bilingual individuals. She is also interested in neurodegenerative processes that affect language and factors that allow for language recovery after stroke. Nicole’s career goal is to obtain a faculty position and conduct clinical research on the neural basis of language and language impairments.


Kimberly Dahl is a doctoral student mentored by Professor Cara Stepp in the Sensorimotor Rehabilitation Engineering Lab.  Kim completed a clinical fellowship in voice and swallowing disorders in the Department of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery at Oregon Health and Science University. Kim previously studied linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin and communication disorders at the University of Rhode Island, where she researched voice acoustics and gender perception in transgender women. Kim’s research focuses on voice and gender, voice perception, and vocal motor control. Her goal is to lead a research laboratory in an academic setting.


Kelsey Davison is a doctoral student in the Communication and Neurodevelopment laboratory led by Assistant Professor Jennifer Zuk. Prior to becoming a NIH/NIDCD training grant (T32) fellow in 2020, she studied geography and Spanish as an undergraduate student at Salem State University and served in the Peace Corps where she provided language and early literacy support to preschool children in Paraguay. Following her Peace Corps service, Kelsey earned an EdM in human development and psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on identifying and investigating factors of resiliency in children at risk of or grappling with language-based learning disabilities. Long term, Kelsey plans to pursue a research career in an academic setting.


Daria Dragicevic is a doctoral student in the Sensorimotor Rehabilitation Engineering Lab led by Dr. Cara Stepp. Daria previously studied computational linguistics and honors interdisciplinary studies at San Diego State University, where she was involved in research related to language production in individuals with temporal lobe epilepsy. Her current research interests focus on investigating changes across speech subsystems in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Daria’s long-term goal is to improve our understanding of changes in speech production in individuals with movement disorders while championing advocacy efforts.


Turley Duque (she/her) is a Ph.D. student in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. Turley is a McNair Scholar and received her B.A. in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of San Diego, where she studied temporal and spatial memory in ADHD model rats. She is interested in researching the neural processes when verbal communication is disturbed. In her free time, she loves to travel this world and others through the pages of books.

 


Paris Gappmayr is a doctoral student in Professor Amy Lieberman’s Language Acquisition & Visual Attention Lab. Paris is interested in American Sign Language acquisition, as well as reading acquisition in Deaf individuals. Currently, she is working on a project studying gaze patterns during sign perception. She received a BA in speech sciences from the University of British Columbia in 2020. Her broad goals are to investigate common features between spoken & signed modalities and to advocate for ASL access for Deaf children.


Alex Kapadia is a doctoral candidate working with Assistant Professor Jennifer Zuk in the Communication and Neurodevelopment Lab. She earned her master’s in Speech-Language Pathology in 2019 as part of Boston University’s combined MS/PhD program, and previously studied Linguistics and Physics as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago. Alex uses behavioral and neuroimaging methods to investigate the effects of variability on speech processing and the interactions among speech perception, speech production & reading in development. Her long-term goal is to lead a laboratory investigating the cognitive & neural bases of developmental communication disorders.


Malvika Khandelwal is a doctoral student in the Bilingual Learning Lab, led by Assistant Professor Kimberly Crespo. She received a BA in Psychology, with a minor in Spanish from Boston University. During her undergraduate career she was involved in cognitive psychology research at the Child Cognition Lab. Moving forward, she wishes to research language development and cognition. Her research goals include the impacts of code-switching on executive functioning, and understanding the differences in cognition in typically developing children and children with language disorders. Her long-term goal is to lead research in an academic setting.


Jackie S. Kim is a doctoral student in the Speech Neuroscience Lab led by Professor Frank Guenther. She received her BA in linguistics from the University of Southern California and MS in communication sciences and disorders from Columbia University. Jackie worked as a medical speech-language pathologist at an acute care hospital in Los Angeles before starting her PhD program. Her research focuses on utilizing different neuroimaging techniques to investigate neural computations of speech motor control in people with neurogenic communication disorders.


Talia Liu is a doctoral student in the Communication and Neurodevelopment Lab led by Assistant Professor Jennifer Zuk. She received her bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Sciences and Psychology at Rice University. She earned her master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology at Vanderbilt, where she also worked as a research analyst in the Vanderbilt Music Cognition Lab. Her research interests include studying the impact of musical activities on social engagement and language in autistic children and the efficacy of music-based interventions and community programs. She also has a clinical interest in pediatric feeding and swallowing.


Yinuo Liu is a doctoral student in the Communication Neuroscience Research Laboratory led by Professor Tyler Perrachione. Before beginning her doctoral studies, Yinuo received her BS in psychology with minors in English translation and interpretation from Zhejiang University in 2023. Yinuo is interested in the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying human language processing in both typical and atypical brains. Her long-term career goal is to pursue a faculty position and direct a research lab focusing on characterizing the structures and functions of the brain regions that support language processing.


Hilary Miller is a doctoral candidate in Professor Frank Guenther’s Speech Neuroscience Lab. As an NIH/NIDCD fellowship recipient and a Hariri Institute Graduate Fellow, her dissertation work focuses on determining the neural bases of speech motor learning in individuals with neurogenic speech disorders. Hilary completed a dual degree in chemistry and Spanish as an undergraduate and then earned her MS in communication sciences and disorders at the University of New Hampshire. Prior to BU, she worked as a speech-language pathologist with Boothby Therapy Services in Vermont and New Hampshire public schools. Her long-term goal is to direct a lab investigating the neural mechanisms underlying motor speech disorders, such as apraxia of speech, in order to improve therapeutic outcomes.


Elana Pontecorvo, EdM is a doctoral student in the Lex Lab led by Assistant Professor Naomi Caselli. She received her BA in Anthropology and Hispanic Studies from Oberlin College and an EdM in Deaf Education from Boston University. Her research interests are in sign language acquisition in deaf children, with attention to how deaf children with hearing families acquire sign language as a first language. She is also interested in bilingual language acquisition in deaf infants and children. She strives to conduct research on sign language acquisition with the goal of ensuring early language access for deaf and hard of hearing children.


Marissa Russell is a doctoral student in the Aphasia Research Laboratory led by Professor Swathi Kiran. Marissa holds a M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions and B.A. degrees in Linguistics and Spanish from Emory University. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, she worked as a speech-language pathologist at Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital, primarily serving English and Spanish-speaking adults with neurological disorders. Marissa’s main research interests include the interaction between language and cognition in bilingual individuals with aphasia, how this phenomenon relates to severity of impairment, and ways to maximize treatment efficacy for diverse populations. Marissa’s long-term goal is to pursue a research career in an academic setting and disseminate findings in a way that is easily accessible to clinicians.


Michael Scimeca is a doctoral student working in the Aphasia Research Laboratory with Professor Swathi Kiran. Michael holds an MA in linguistics from the University of Virginia and undergraduate degrees in biomedical sciences and Spanish from the University of Central Florida. After expressing an interest in clinical education, he joined Sargent College in 2018 and recently graduated from the MS-SLP program. Michael’s current work is part of a larger randomized control trial which uses computational modeling to predict treatment outcomes for bilingual individuals. His other research interests include assessment in bilingual aphasia and topics in acquired alexia and agraphia in adults. Long term, Michael plans to obtain a faculty position in aphasia using clinical work to answer relevant research questions.


Lue (Stella) Shen is a doctoral student working in the Center of Autism Research Excellence with Professor Helen Tager-Flusberg. Stella earned her MS in speech language pathology from Boston University and BA in Chinese and bilingual studies from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Stella is interested in understanding the language developmental trajectories of children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Her long-term goal is to pursue a career in the academic setting to focus on investigating the communication difficulties experienced by individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and to support the development of evidence-based intervention.