Faculty Updates


Taylor Lawrence, a recent graduate, and Dr. Miriam van Mersbergen, Assistant Professor in the School of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, published her master's thesis on "The Relation Between Eating Disorders and Voice Disorders" in the Journal of Voice.

A collaborative research study with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Speech Perception Assessment Laboratory (SPAL) had the manuscript "The Spanish Pediatric Picture Identification Test (SPPIT)" accepted for publication in the American Journal of Audiology. The authors are Dr. Lisa Lucks Mendel, Monique A. Pousson, Dr. Johnnie K. Bass, Dr. Jordan Alyse Coffelt, Melanie Morris and Kati A. Lane.

The article "Semantic Influences on the Perception of Degraded Speech by Individuals with Cochlear Implants" by Dr. Chhayakanta Patro and Dr. Lisa Lucks Mendel was recently published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Dr. Gavin Bidelman authored four new research publications:

Bidelman, G. M., Knapp, J., Heitzmann, V. R., & Bhagat, S. P. (in press). Brainstem correlates of cochlear nonlinearity measured via the scalp-recorded frequency-following response (FFR). NeuroReport.

Bidelman, G. M., Bush, L. C., & Boudreaux, A. M. (2020). Effects of noise on the behavioral and neural categorization of speech. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 14(153), 1-13.

Al-Fahad, R., Yeasin, M., & Bidelman, G. M. (2020). Decoding of single-trial EEG reveals unique states of functional brain connectivity that drive rapid speech categorization decisions. Journal of Neural Engineering, 17(1), 016045.

Bidelman, G. M., Brown, B., Mankel, K., & Price, C. N. (2020). Psychobiological responses reveal audiovisual noise differentially challenges speech recognition. Ear and Hearing, 41(2), 268-277.

Dr. Kim Oller published a paper titled "Infant boys are more vocal than infant girls" that appeared in the high-impact journal, Current Biology. The paper was co-authored with colleagues from the University of Memphis and Gordon Ramsay of Emory University and the Marcus Autism Center.

Although females have been reported for decades to be better in language than males, the new study in Current Biology reveals that in the first year boys produce more speech-like vocalizations than girls and that the difference is not only highly significant but also more than four times larger than the commonly reported female language advantage. Importantly the difference in vocal rates favoring boys applied both to infants at risk for autism (because they had an older sibling with autism) and infants not at risk. The authors suggest infant boys may vocalize more, in part because they are at higher risk for death than girls in the first year, and that they may have been evolved to produce more speech-like vocalizations to serve as elicitors of parental care to buffer the risk.


Lynda Feenaughty, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, has been invited by ASHA's 2020 Motor Speech Disorders Topic Committee to give a 1-hour presentation on the topic of "Cognition: A source of detours in the perception and production of motor speech disorders." This talk will take place in San Diego, CA, at the 2020 ASHA Convention in November, and will be co-presented with Erin Ingvalson, Associate Professor at Florida State University.

Five students presented the results of research conducted under the direction of Jani Johnson, Au.D., Ph,D., at the Annual Scientific and Technology Conference of the American Auditory Society (AAS) in Scottsdale, Arizona March 5-7. The mission of AAS is to promote the translation of science to clinical practice in hearing and balance disorders. Two of these students, Lipika Sarangi and Rachel Huber, are currently in the Ph.D. program, and 3, Emma Brothers, Kristie Roberts, and Abigail Stecker are in the Au.D. program. All of their research studies were submitted for peer-review prior to being accepted for presentation at the annual meeting. Each of these students received the Dean's Travel Award from the School to support this opportunity. The titles of their presentations are:

Brothers, Johnson, & Stecker. "Does audiologic orientation improve satisfaction with direct-to-consumer hearing aids?"

Huber & Johnson. "Does personality/cognitive profile predict perceived listening effort in older adults?"

Sarangi & Johnson. "Do self-reported sound acceptability measures predict hearing aid preference?"

Stecker, Johnson, & Brothers. "How does audiologic orientation and intervention impact patient self-efficacy?"

Roberts & Johnson. "Using wearable sensors to measure listening-related stress: a validation study"

Dr. Miriam van Mersbergen was recently interviewed by Christine Schneider to be featured on an episode of The Visceral Voice Podcast. Dr. van Mersbergen discusses her research and her opinions of voice and identity, interoception and the voice, and her experience as a clinician. The podcast is to be released in May.

Sign language instructor Sherye Fairbanks and Sign Language adjunct instructor Alene White were interviewed by WREG-TV for a story on how masks and facial coverings make it hard for the deaf to communicate.

Clinical professor and Director of Clinical Services in SLP, Marilyn Wark, was interviewed on Fox 13 News about a service project that NSSLHA and the School developed. They created and distributed communication boards to area hospitals for the use of patients who are currently isolated and/or intubated and unable to speak. To date, they have distributed over 250 boards to area hospitals and they are still filling orders.

Research Grants

Dr. Jani Johnson and Dr. Miriam van Mersbergen received a grant from the Hearing Aid Research Consortium to determine whether or not hearing aids improve people's quality of life.

Kelsey Mankel was awarded an NIH F31 NRSA fellowship from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders for her project "Neural bases of successful auditory learning." The award provides $91,040 over two years. Mankel is a fourth-year doctoral student working in the lab of Dr. Gavin Bidelman (faculty sponsor). The grant will fund her remaining doctoral studies at UofM by providing protected time for dedicated research training. For more information about the Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, visit https://www.memphis.edu/acnl/

Dr. D. Kimbrough Oller, professor and Plough Chair of Excellence in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, received a $192,000 grant from the NIH NIDCD with Dr. Tanjala Gipson of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. "Early Communication in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC)" is a project focused on determining how early vocal development of infants with TSC predicts neurodevelopmental outcomes. In the long term, this research will contribute to fundamental knowledge about early features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in high-risk populations. The research focuses on early vocal development in infants with TSC, about half of whom will receive an ASD diagnosis later in life. This project will be conducted at the UofM Origin of Language Laboratories with the primary work being done by Gipson under the supervision of Oller. Gipson will be submitting a career development (K) award within the next year, with Oller as the sponsor.

The award is a supplement to Oller's current five-year longitudinal project "Early Vocal Development and Prediction of Autism."

New Commercial Products

Dr. Lisa Lucks Mendel and her team in the Speech Perception Assessment Laboratory developed two Spanish speech perception tests: the Spanish Pediatric Speech Recognition Threshold Test (SPSRT) and the Spanish Pediatric Picture Identification Test (SPPIT) that are now available for audiologists nationwide. The SPSRT and the SPPIT were developed as picture-pointing tasks to provide accuracy of scoring for monolingual English clinicians when testing Spanish-speaking patients. Each test includes a test CD and color pictures, and both tests are available with a Spanish male or female talker. Jonathan Rogers, a current PhD student in the program, is the speaker on the male recordings. There is also a version of the SPPIT with Spanish four-talker noise. All of these tests are available through Auditec, Inc. The work was funded partially from a grant from the US Department of Education.

Faculty Service

The Winter Board meeting of the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders was hosted by the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Dr. Lisa Lucks Mendel, current Past President, and Dr. Jennifer Taylor, Vice President for Organizational Advancement, currently serve on the board.

Honors & Awards

Gavin Bidelman, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Audiology, received the University of Memphis PI Millionaire Award for 2020 on February 25. The distinction signifies the attainment of $1 million as Principal Investigator on externally supported sponsored research. For more information on Dr. Bidelman's research lab, see: www.memphis.edu/acnl/

Ph.D. students Helen Long and Jonathan Rogers were both recently awarded the Kathy Yorkston - Motor Speech Student Travel Award. The students were individually selected as recipients of these monetary awards after attending the Motor Speech Conference in February, which was located in Santa Barbara, CA.

Au.D. student Abigail Stecker won first place in the Life & Health Sciences division of the University of Memphis, Graduate Student Research Forum.

Mid-South Conference

The 50th Annual Mid-South Conference was held at the beginning of March. With over 500 attendants for the two-day conference, the NSSLHA chapter at The University of Memphis carried out another tremendously successful, collaborative, and enriching conference for both students and professionals from near and far. Award winners from the 2020 Mid-South Conference Award Ceremony are as follows:

  • The Marion G. Evans Award: Rachel Wilkinson (AuD) & Olivia Naegle (AuD)
  • The Louise Ward Award: Haleigh Bradley (AuD) & Shelby Adams (SLP)
  • Outstanding Student Award: Betsy Mashburn (SLP) & Oliva Naegle (AuD)
  • The Marion Hammett Award: Lindsey Hull (SLP)
  • The Sallie Hillard (mentorship) Award: Dr. Jani Johnson
  • The Malcolm Fraser Community Service Award: Feliza Vasquez

2020-2021 New NSSLHA Board

President: Caroline Bourgeois
Vice President: Brooke Benson
SLP Co-chair: Hayleigh Wilson
AuD Co-chair: Fallon Bernard
Secretary: Maddie Purdue
Philanthropy Co-chairs: Ashley Morgan (AuD) and Sara Smith (SLP)
Hospitality: Leah Margaret Strope
Media and Technology: Kara Sander
Registration: Monique Reed
Legislative: Lori Davis
Treasurer: Hannah Sherman