Communication Sciences and Disorders

Name of the Faculty Mentor: Miriam van Mersbergen, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Faculty Mentor's Department: School of Communication Sciences and Disorders - Speech Language Pathology

Contact Information: 901.678.4474

Project Description: We all have experienced the phenomenon where we can know a person's state of being just by listening to their voice.  The voice is a powerful communicator of our thought and emotions and when it cannot effectively transmit this information, communication breakdowns occur.  The Voice Emotion and Cognition Laboratory investigates the relationship between emotional and cognitive processes and voice production. The laboratory has on-going projects investigating the neural responses (measured with brain waves or electroencephalography) individuals have when they make  vocal mistakes. Understanding how individuals react to their own mistakes can lead to a better understanding of how people develop voice disorders. In addition, the laboratory actively studies how individuals perceive themselves by the sound of their voice and how individuals rate the amount of effort it takes to use ones voice.  Understanding these processes can help those with difficulties using their voice and assist those who use their voice heavily (like teachers) in optimizing their voice use.

Requirements for Student Applicants: This laboratory employs psychological paradigms and measures and is well-suited for the psychology student or students studying cognitive neuroscience.  In addition, students with biology, communication, sociology backgrounds, music and theater majors and minors- particularly those with an interest in voice are well suited for work in this lab. Students interested in the application of biomedical engineering products or gaining clinical skills measuring physiological data (i.e. pre-med) are also welcome. Skills required for this lab include the ability 1) to communicate effectively with participants, 2) to learn data organization and processing techniques using  Excel, SPSS, and R, 3) to organize schedules for participants, and 4) engage in research training through CITI and other on-line tutorials.  GPAs higher than 3.0 are preferred.

Application or Interview Process: Students should submit a cover letter, letter of reference from one faculty member who was their primary instructor, and unofficial transcripts.  Following the review of application materials, a personal interview may be set up to assess level of interest and fit in the laboratory.

Hours per week: 10 hours per week minimum.  If the student wishes to work more than 10 hours per week, this should be mentioned in the cover letter.

Start Date: Ongoing

Method of Compensation:  Federal Work Study; Volunteer

Federal Work Study eligible students should submit application materials directly to by Friday, January 26, 2018. Other interested students should submit materials directly to the faculty mentor.