New Faculty Bios – Fall 2023

This fall, the School welcomed Dr. Raghav Jha and Dr. Kelsey Mankel as Assistant Professors in audiology.

Dr. Raghav Jha

Dr. Raghav H Jha completed his PhD in Audiology in August 2023 with a specialization in vestibular science from James Madison University. The vestibular system is the organ system in the ears that helps in maintaining balance. Prior to his time in the United States, he completed a master's degree in Audiology at the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing and then worked in various audiology settings for 3 years.

“During my master’s program, I developed a strong interest in vestibular science when I first learned the basics of the vestibular system,” Dr. Jha explained. “I often wondered why our understanding of vestibular physiology is not as advanced as our understanding of cochlear mechanisms, even though anatomically the vestibule constitutes 2/3rd of the labyrinth while the cochlea constitutes only 1/3rd. Additionally, while working with patients with dizziness, I realized I wanted to study areas that could help diagnose and treat patients with vestibular complaints (dizziness) better.

“As a researcher, my primary goal is to work in the areas deepening our understanding of vestibular physiology. Currently, I am expanding on a project focusing on training-based reorganizational changes in the vestibular system. Additionally, I intend to expand with the novel vestibular-electrophysiologic techniques that I was trained in during my doctoral studies. In my first year, I aim to establish my lab, gather pilot data, and apply for foundation grants to create a framework for larger funding opportunities. Moreover, I am dedicated to disseminating the research outcomes from my doctoral work. "  

Dr. Kelsey Mankel

Dr. Kelsey Mankel completed her PhD at the University of Memphis in 2021 under the mentorship of Dr. Gavin Bidelman. She then studied for two years as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California Davis Center for Mind and Brain. In addition to her faculty role in CSD, Dr. Mankel holds a position in the Institute for Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis.

“With a background in both music performance and neuroscience, I have always been interested in the brain and auditory system,” Dr. Mankel shared, “particularly the notion that the "brain can change itself" through auditory experiences like music training or learning to speak another language. Pursuing a PhD in Communication Sciences and Disorders at UofM provided the perfect opportunity to blend my interests while grounding my research in clinical-translational applications.

“My research interests focus on the interplay between auditory perception, cognition, and neuroplasticity. Specifically, I study how the brain encodes complex sounds like speech and music from cochlea to cortex, how this process changes with diverse experiences (e.g., music training, lifetime noise exposure, learning), and the influence of individual differences in shaping auditory perception abilities.”

“My goal this year is to set my lab up for success through a combination of pilot studies, student-led projects, and collaborations, with the intention of preparing a grant submission by the end of my first year to support our research endeavors.”