News

Faculty member receives award

Congratulations to Sommar Chilton, who has been selected to receive the 2015 Health and Human Development Alumni Society Excellence in Teaching Award. Ms. Chilton teaches classes in American Sign Language, Deaf Culture, and Aural Rehabilitation and advises the Penn State Sign Language Organization.

Faculty member receives funding

Congratulations to Chaleece Sandberg who has received funding through the American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Grant Program for Projects on Multicultural Activities 2015. The project, which she will be doing in collaboration with colleagues at Boston University and San Francisco State University is titled “Development of a free online interactive naming therapy for bilingual aphasia.”

Program wins endowment funding

Congratulations to Anne Marie “Kitty” Kubat who has been awarded funding for her work in the Brainbuilders program. The Thomas M. Nardozzo Community Service Endowment chose her application as a program to help faculty with “the development and delivery of community outreach programs which promote human health and well-being.” Television station WTAJ did a feature on Brainbuilders and the video is available on their website: http://www.wearecentralpa.com/news/help-for-dementia-patients-and-families

Student passes comprehensive exam

Congratulations to April Yorke who passed her comprehensive exam. April presented a very interesting study that focused on teaching academic vocabulary to young children with complex communication needs. Her study was well designed and implemented. It will make a significant contribution to the field.

Faculty Member receives award

Congratulations to Chaleece Sandberg, Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, who has received an Advancing Academic-Research Career (AARC) Award from ASHA. She will use the award to advance her research and teaching skills, with mentorship from Ingrid Blood and Carol Miller, Professors of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Janet van Hell, Professor of Psychology.

CSD Team earns recognition for poster

Congratulations to doctoral student Jiali Liang, faculty member Krista Wilkinson, and research assistant (and CSD alumna) Christine Regiec, whose poster submission titled “Gaze Toward Social Interactions in Photographs by Individuals With Autism: Implications for AAC Design” was selected as a Meritorious Poster Submission for the 2015 ASHA Convention. Only 54 out of 1573 submissions received this honor.

Creuz recognized by her alma mater

Judith A. Creuz, Instructor of Audiology, received the 2015 Salus University Alumni Association’s Special Recognition Award. The honor, awarded only when merited, highlights Creuz’s contributions to her alma mater and the profession of audiology.

Student passes comprehensive exam

Congratulations to Jennifer Davis who passed her comprehensive exams. Jennifer is a doctoral candidate at Penn State University studying autism spectrum disorders (ASD), child language development, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), and family systems. The goal of her research is to improve the communication interventions and quality of life for military families with children with special needs, especially those with ASD. Her candidacy study examined the therapeutic experiences of military families with children with ASD by interviewing 15 military spouses of active duty service members. Results from this study indicated military families with children with ASD experience barriers and supports related to relocation, deployment, Tricare (the military insurance), and military programs. Her comprehensive examination study triangulated the findings of her previous investigation by surveying approximately 300 military spouses with children with special needs, including ASD. Although the data are still being analyzed, preliminary results suggest military families with children with ASD have significant challenges related to the access, availability, quality, and frequency of ASD interventions. Throughout her doctoral program, she has been involved in research projects investigating friendship in children with ASD and their parents, determining effectiveness of AAC interventions for children with ASD, and training pre-service speech-language pathologists (SLPs). She was also a member of the Graduate Student Council for the College of Human Health and Development in 2014–2015 and will serve as the council’s president for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Student successfully defends candidacy

Congratulations to Beth Breakstone who successfully passed her candidacy exam. Beth took on a very ambitious project conducting a systematic review of the research to investigate the effects of interventions that involve parent responsivity training on the language and communication of young children with developmental disabilities. She did a superb job tracking down relevant studies, coding them, analyzing the results, and considering implications for theory and practice. Her paper definitely has the potential to make a significant contribution to advancing understanding and improving outcomes for children with complex communication needs.

Student successfully defends candidacy

Congratulations to Julia Birmingham who successfully defended her candidacy exam. Julia designed, implemented, and analyzed the results of a fascinating study that investigated the perspectives of school teams’ on Augmentative and Alternative Communication assessment of students with complex communication needs. Her results showed that the teams were primarily concerned with challenges related to working on teams and communicating with families. Her study has very important future implications for the field, both pre-service training and future research. Specifically her results suggest that pre-service training programs should educate SLPs on collaborative teaming so that they are prepared to work within multidisciplinary teams with families. Her results also suggest a need not just for evidence-based research, but also for practice-based evidence – that is, research that focuses on real world intervention in schools/homes. This study will definitely make an important contribution to the field.

Student passes comprehensive exam

Congratulations to Holly Koegler, who passed her comprehensive exams. The committee was quite impressed with the ambitious, interdisciplinary nature of her project, “Motor planning across domains: Relationships between speech and object manipulation in children.” Her paper makes a valuable contribution to an under-studies topic – relations between manual and speech motor control.

Student passes comprehensive exam

Congratulations to Jessica Caron who passed her comprehensive exams with flying colors! Jessica designed and executed a very interesting study that will serve to advance our understanding and improve outcomes for beginning communicators with complex communication needs who require Augmentative and Alternative Communication. She did an excellent job integrating research and theory from a variety of domains; her paper will make a significant contribution to the field.

Student awarded graduate fellowship

Congratulations to Molly Lichtenwalner who has been awarded a John W. White Graduate Fellowship. The purpose of this fellowship will be to recognize and support outstanding graduate students enrolled or planning to enroll in any graduate degree program. Consideration for this fellowship is given to all full-time senior students exhibiting academic excellence and graduating with “highest distinction” who have been admitted to The Pennsylvania State University or another university as candidates for a graduate degree no later than the beginning of the next academic year.

Student wins endowment

Jennifer Davis, Ph.D. candidate in Communication Sciences and Disorders, has been awarded a Kligman Graduate Fellowship Endowment. Established by Drs. Albert and Lorraine Kligman, the Kligman Graduate Fellowship Endowment provides funds for outstanding and truly exceptional graduate students from the College of Health and Human Development that enable fellows to focus exclusively on their own research and education.

In receiving this honor, Ms. Davis joins a prestigious and select group of researchers and scientists throughout the nation and around the world who have benefitted from the funding since the endowment's establishment in 1998. Competition for this honor is extremely significant.

Ms. Davis received her Bachelor's degree at Michigan State University and then completed her master's degree in CSD at Penn State. She decided to pursue her doctoral degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders with her major adviser, Dr. Erinn Finke.

The Kligman Fellowship award not only recognizes the important research she is conducting, her superior scholarship, her unlimited promise/potential but also the overall impact her scholarly research will have on our discipline.

CSD Student Marshal

Congratulations to Molly Lichtenwalner, a Schreyer Scholar, who has been selected as the Student Marshal for the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Dr. Krista Wilkinson will serve as the Faculty Marshal.

Student awards

Congratulations to Lindsay Butler-Trump, graduate student in Communication Sciences and Disorders, who has been awarded a 2015 M. G. Whiting Student Indigenous Knowledge Research Award to support her research on Yucatec Maya. Lindsay works with speakers of Yucatec Maya in Mexico to investigate what different languages can tell us about the human ability to acquire and process language. She will use this information to develop ways to teach language skills to people with communication differences.

Congratulations to Nicole Radlow, undergraduate student in Communication Sciences and Disorders, who has received the Edith Chace Award. The award recognizes an outstanding student leader and scholar in the College of Health and Human Development.

Congratulations to Nicole Broderick, Emily Curtin, Margaret Featherstone, Jacqueline Katsev, Stephanie May, and Jalyn Taylor who have been selected to participate in the 2015–2016 class of the Women’s Leadership Initiative. The Women’s Leadership Initiative was conceptualized and is supported by alumnae of the College of Health and Human Development and women leaders throughout the nation. The Women’s Leadership Initiative will provide opportunities for emerging women leaders to develop the core values, attitudes and competencies that are the foundation of quality leadership. Participants will emerge from the initiative with an enhanced knowledge of their own leadership capacity, an ability to identify and develop the leadership capacity of others, an understanding of the key dimensions of leadership in diverse cultures and contexts, and expanded networks with alumnae leaders.

Department News from Penn State News

Nimisha Muttiah, who earned a doctoral degree in communication sciences and disorders at Penn State in May, has made it her mission to aid children with autism spectrum disorders in Sri Lanka.


Middle school students from Washington, D.C. were able to see firsthand how the technology that powers their favorite video games is the same technology that helps golfers improve their swing.


The goal of the off-campus externship for graduate students in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is to immerse students in daily routines that allow them the opportunity to work with highly skilled professionals in the field.


In an effort to create a speech intervention program for patients with dysarthria secondary to ALS and other neurological conditions, communication sciences and disorders assistant professor Jimin Lee is using a rare instrument to analyze patients’ speech disorders.


A facilitator of new support groups for people with dementia and their caregivers is seeking potential participants from State College and surrounding areas as well as a co-facilitator for the caregiver support group.


Ten students will represent the College of Health and Human Development as student marshals during at the May 9, 2015, commencement ceremony at Penn State.


A common frustration among many parents is wondering how to get their kids to ‘disconnect’ from devices—computers, phones, and gaming consoles—in order to maintain healthy lifestyles and develop meaningful relationships. In the case of parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), however, Penn State researchers have found that parents actually embrace their child’s use of video games.


Penn State's College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society recently recognized several faculty members, staff members and students for their accomplishments.


Penn State's College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society presented eight students with the Alumni Recognition for Student Excellence Award during an awards luncheon Friday, April 24.


Nicole M. Etter, one of the newest researchers and faculty members at the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the College of Health and Human Development, is continuing her research in the area of speech disorders at Penn State.