I am Chair of the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, and Chair-Elect of the University Senate, as well as Associate Director of the Maryland Language Science Center. I helped found the UMD Infant & Child Studies Consortium and the University of Maryland Autism Research Consortium. I am also a member of the Center for the Comparative & Evolutionary Biology of Hearing. Within NACS, I have searched as the Director of Graduate Studies and chair of the admissions committee. In 2013, I was honored with the BSOS Outstanding Graduate Advisor award, and in 2020/2021 as a University of Maryland Distinguished Scholar-Teacher. My research focuses on speech perception and language acquisition. More specifically, I am interested in how the brain recognizes words from fluent speech, especially in the context of noise, and how this ability changes with development. For more information on my research, please download my public-oriented research statement.
Although my lab focuses on adult and toddler speech perception, we also do work on attention/distractability, the impact of concussions on language, and dogs' ability to recognize and respond to human language. For more information, visit the websites for our labs: The Language Development & Perception Lab, the Brain Injury & Language Development Lab, and the Canine Language Perception Lab.
I regularly teach the NACS research ethics course.
My research focuses on speech perception and language acquisition. More specifically, I am interested in how the brain recognizes and learns words from fluent speech, especially in the context of noise, and how this ability changes with development. Recent research has examined topics such as: 1) infants' ability to recognize their name in the context of noise or poor signal quality; 2) how information from one stream of speech can influence the perceptual processing of an alternate stream of speech; 3) the effect of noise or signal degradation on children's ability to learn new words; 4) the effects of lexical neighbors on children's and adult's word naming, both those who are typically developing and those who have word-finding difficulties or who stutter 5) whether infant perceptual abilities and parental input predict later language development; 6) children's ability to comprehend degraded speech, such as that produced by a cochlear-implant; 7) the effect of sports-related concussions on children's language processing. Current and recent grants focus on 1) the potential contributing roles of speech segmentation, statistical learning, and parental input in children's language acquisition, 2) how bilingual exposure during infancy affects the ability to attend to speech in noise, 3) children's ability to combine information from multiple sources (including effects of prior knowledge) 4) the ability of young children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to understand speech in noise, and 5) early perceptual differences between children at risk for an ASD diagnosis and those not at risk. We are also working to develop a new software system for testing young infants in listening studies, and have begun testing our canine companions' abilities to understand human language.
You can download my public-oriented research statement here.
I am Chair of the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, and Chair-Elect of the University Senate, as well as Associate Director of the Maryland Language Science Center. Within NACS, I have searched as the Director of Graduate Studies and chair of the admissions committee, as well as serving on the curriculum and executive committees.
CampusServiceChair, Dept. of Hearing & Speech Sciences
CampusServiceAssociate Director, Maryland Language Science Center
Student NameChris HeffnerCurrent PositionAsst. Professor, University of Buffalo
Student NameAmritha MallikarjunCurrent PositionPostdoc Affiliate, Penn State Working Dog Lab
Student NameGiovanna MoriniCurrent PositionAssistant Professor, University of Delaware
Student NameMelissa StockbridgeCurrent PositionPostdoctoral researcher, Johns Hopkins
Student NameBrittany JaekelCurrent Positionscience writer at Regulatory & Quality Solutions