New CSD M.A. Program Director brings inspiration to continue department success

Posted on: December 9, 2016

There are certain moments in life that lead professionals to where they are today in the workforce. Sometimes, these moments can even have such an impact that may personally affect people on a deep and emotional level. With hard work, dedication, and a competitive drive - Spartans WILL find a way to enrich the lives of others by using their knowledge and capabilities they have developed from their own expescreen-shot-2016-12-09-at-1-16-56-pmriences.

While he completed his undergrad at the University of Michigan, new Professor of Practice and Director of the Communicative Sciences and Disorders (CSD) Master of Arts Program Matt Phillips has done just that.

“I am a person who stutters,” said Phillips. “While I now experience a great deal of
fluency, I have spent a vast majority of my life managing – or hiding – my disfluent speech minute-by-minute, every day. I have a personal understanding of the impact of a communication disorder, but I also have an appreciation for what the field of speech-language pathology can do to change someone’s life. Having received such a gift is what inspired me to pursue this career.”

Where it all began

Phillips attended the University of Michigan from 1987-1991 where he received his bachelor’s degree in psychology. Through his studies, he developed an understanding of not only neurobiology, but also of human behavior – two things that the practice the study of communicative sciences and disorders requires expertise in.

“We (as speech-language pathologists) facilitate the development or rehabilitation of neurological function for communication, cognition, and swallowing,” Phillips said. “To be effective in this endeavor, a clinician needs to relate to the client (and family) on a personal level. I will also add that my experience at University of Michigan expanded my understanding of the world and my own place in it.”

Phillips continued. “Our field emphasizes evidence-based practice, which merges evidence from current research with the client’s strengths and needs, as well as the clinician’s expertise and context. As a Professor of Practice I am asked to bring the experiences of my own clinical work in evidence-based practice to classroom instruction.”

Discovering his inspiration 

CSD students are typically attracted to the field through a compassionate desire to help others. Since this path is intense and competitive, it is crucial for students to have the academic ability as well as the appropriate personal traits such as critical thinking, perseverance, teamwork, service, and communication strategies that will help them succeed. Phillips’ favorite part of the job is the opportunity to work with students in CSD and help them reach that level.

“CSD students are both intelligent and well-rounded individuals. It is an absolute pleasure to work with students of this quality on a daily basis,” he said.

Future objectives and goals 

Faculty from the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders are internationally-recognized as scholars and researchers of the highest caliber. Additionally, the students’ success showcases the program’s value and their ability to use what they’ve learned to make a positive impact. Phillips claims that he wants to sustain the strong momentum and build upon that reputation.

“Our graduates continue to make a difference in the lives of those they serve and I hope to further develop the curriculum, develop evidence-based models of clinical supervision, and expand the diversity of our students and the cultural responsiveness of our training program.” said Phillips.

If you’re interested in the CSD graduate program, or want further information about the study, click here.

By Emmy Virkus





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CSD Associate Chair Receives Acoustical Society of America Honor

Posted on: May 9, 2016

erichunterEric Hunter, Associate Professor of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, has been named a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), one of the highest honors bestowed by this international scientific society.

Nominated by colleagues in the field, Hunter was awarded Fellow status by the ASA Executive Council at its Fall 2015 meeting. His official induction will occur this May at the Spring 2016 meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“I am grateful to receive this recognition from individuals I have admired and tried to emulate,” said Hunter, who also serves as the Associate Chair of the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders. “ASA Fellows are some of the most highly accomplished scholars in the field, so it’s an honor to have been invited to join their ranks.”

Hunter is being recognized for his research contributions in the laryngeal function for voice production.

“To describe my research, I use my background in physics, acoustics and biomechanics to examine all aspects of voice mechanism and production,” Hunter said.

Approximately 7,500 people work in acoustics around the world, examining a wide range of topics related to sound. The ASA is one of the largest associations in the field with thousands of members, but only a small percentage distinguish themselves to warrant Fellow status.

“The honors of the ASA is a very big deal,” said Dimitar Deliyski, Chair of the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders. “This is one of the highest tokens of appreciation from a worldwide organization, which has been highly respected for nearly 100 years.”

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Vocal Health Focus of CSD Research

Posted on: July 25, 2014

Eric Hunter wp mainThrough his research, Associate Professor Eric Hunter is working to reduce the vocal health issues experienced by people who use their voice as a primary tool of their trade. These occupational voice users include professionals such as teachers, counselors, emergency dispatchers, air traffic controllers, performers and telephone workers.

"Nearly one quarter of the U.S. workforce depends on a healthy, versatile voice as a tool for their profession," said Hunter, who joined the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders faculty last fall. "These are individuals who, were they to lose voice quality and/or vocal endurance, would not be able to perform their job effectively.

"My research explores what environmental, physiological and social factors might increase the risk of vocal health issues in this population of workers. Using this information, we are developing strategies to reduce increased incidences of vocal health problems."

Hunter's latest study, "Strain Modulations as a Mechanism to Reduce Stress Relaxation in Laryngeal Tissues," recently was published in PLOS ONE, an international, peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Public Library of Sciences. The project, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, was co-authored by Thomas Siegmund, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, and Roger Chan, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

In this study, computer models are used to simulate the response of laryngeal tissue during specific vocal behaviors, such as when singers produce a vibrato or animals produce specific trills.

"The study suggests that these vocal behaviors actually help maintain a sung note. Therefore, for example, a singer is better able to sustain a long sung note when using a vibrato," Hunter said. "However, this response may actually increase the decay in the elderly singer and in patients with certain voice disorders. The reported effect could alter some of the descriptions of evolutionary advantage in human song and animal vocalization, as well as have implications on some voice disorders and their treatment."

In another project, supported by the National Institute On Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health, Hunter researches why female occupational voice users have a notably higher lifetime incidence of voice disorders than males.

"This problem is important to explore because, at this time, it is not precisely known why women are at higher risk than men and why some women experience vocal health issues more than others," Hunter said. "This project will increase our understanding of the gender discrepancy in vocal health issues, primarily within these high voice-use occupations where such workers are twice as likely to have a voice disorder.

"The ultimate goal is to identify what compensatory adjustments women use in different communication environments and how these adjustments may contribute to their increased risk of voice issues. Using this information, strategies can be developed to reduce the increased incidence of women's vocal health problems."

Another area of Hunter's research explores how the voice changes with age, which may affect the quality of life.

"A better understanding of how the voice ages could have significant impact in a few years. As the Baby Boom generation has gotten older, the study of aging speech has become increasingly important," Hunter said.

Traditional studies of the aging voice compares two populations of voice users (young, elderly). However, Hunter uses databases of speeches from single individuals, allowing him to examine how the voices of these individuals change over the course of as many as 50 years of recorded speeches.

"Through these longitudinal data, we can more accurately identify normal versus abnormal changes," he said.

This research also could have implications for other key functions such as breathing, swallowing and airway protection because voice production structures share physiological territory with the aerodigestive tract.

"If the current research pans out, new therapies and training techniques could be employed to help maintain a younger sounding voice as well as help maintain swallowing and breathing function in the elderly," Hunter said.

Hunter earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in physics and mathematics from Brigham Young University, with an emphasis in acoustics and vibration. His master's thesis, which focused on designing and testing computer-generated visual aids, shifted his interest from general acoustics to speech acoustics. He then received the National Research Service Award traineeship to complete his Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Science from the University of Iowa. He now uses this background in physics and acoustics to study all aspects of the voice mechanism (anatomy, biomechanics, acoustics, etc.).

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New Faculty Member Joins CSD Department

Posted on: January 8, 2014

fan cao csd facultyPlease join the Communicative Sciences and Disorders department in welcoming Assistant Professor Fan Cao as our newest faculty member. Over the holidays, she has been on campus and busy setting up her office and lab.

"We are excited to have Fan join our department," said Rahul Shrivastav, Chair of the Communicative Sciences and Disorders department. "She brings a unique set of expertise to our academic program that will greatly benefit our students and faculty. She will contribute greatly to the teaching, research and outreach missions of the department."

Cao's research interests include developmental cognitive neuroscience, educational neuroscience, neural basis of language development and disorders, cross-language differences in reading development and disorders, and neural basis of second language learning in children and adults. She is studying how different interventions help improve the reading abilities of children with dyslexia.

Her work has been published in some of the top journals in the field and was the lead researcher for a study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, titled "High Proficiency in a Second Language is Characterized by Greater Involvement of the First Language Network: Evidence from Chinese Learners of English." She also was the lead researcher on a study examining the hypothesis that learning to write Chinese characters influences the brain's reading network for characters. That study, "Writing Affects the Brain Network of Reading in Chinese: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study," was published in Human Brain Mapping.

Cao received her Ph.D. from the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northwestern University in 2009, and her master's and bachelor's degrees in psychology from Beijing Normal University in Beijing, China. She did her post-doctoral training at the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh.

Before coming to MSU, she was an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

"I am very excited to join MSU and look forward to starting my career here," Cao said. "I am very proud to become a Spartan."

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Dilley Receives MSU Outstanding Faculty Award

Posted on: September 16, 2013

Dr. Laura Dilley received the 2011 MSU Outstanding Faculty Award. One faculty member in all of MSU is selected each fall and spring semesters for the award. Professors are nominated by graduating seniors. The selection was narrowed to eight and each candidate was interviewed by a committee. The final candidate was selected based on the interviews and nomination.

"I was shocked to hear I had won. It is unheard of for someone as early in one's career as myself to win such an award. There are many individuals who have been upholding excellent standards in teaching and research for years who have not won," Dilley said. "I feel that receiving this award is partly reflective of my outstanding commitment to undergraduate research and mentoring, but also it's a little bit like winning the lottery. So few are recognized, but so many are deserving."

Laura Dilley, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders. She received her B.S. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 1997 from MIT and her Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Biosciences and Technology from MIT and Harvard in 2005.

"I feel the award brings recognition to the college as a whole and to individual efforts relating to excellence in undergraduate teaching, research and mentoring."

Dilley has more than 15 years of experience in mentoring undergraduates in research.

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