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Speech & Hearing Science :: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Department of Speech & Hearing Science
College of Applied Health Sciences

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Faculty Research

Faculty within the Department of Speech and Hearing Science prepare scientists and professionals to specialize in the study of receptive and productive aspects of oral and alternative communication and communication disorders. Research laboratories and clinics are dedicated to improving all aspects of interpersonal communication.

See the Research Laboratories in the department.
Meet our Doctoral Students.

Faculty Research Highlights

Justin Aronoff

Justin Aronoff
Assistant Professor, Speech and Hearing Science

Professor Aronoff’s research focuses on cochlear implants, with particular interest in bilateral implantation. His work examines how information is combined across the ears and how to divide information between two ears for optimal cochlear implant performance. He developed special software that enables him to create custom processors for cochlear implants, and co-developed a new test to assess whether the processors increase spectral resolution, a key requirement for improving the ability to understand speech in noisy environments.Visit Dr. Aronoff's lab..


Laura DeThorne

Laura DeThorne
Assistant Professor, Speech and Hearing Science

While the vast majority of children learn to communicate through language effortlessly, as many as 15 percent of them struggle with the process. Even within the majority, there are wide variations in the way the process unfolds. Laura DeThorne believes that understanding the causes of language learning differences will lead to more effective interventions and preventions. Dr. DeThorne is currently involved in a longitudinal study of twins in kindergarten through fifth grade funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The study has provided evidence of both genetic influences and non-shared environmental influences. Ultimately, she would like to broaden the definition of success in the speech-language pathology field to include how well people communicate in general, establish friendships, and build meaningful community. Read more about Dr. DeThorne.


Matt Dye

Matthew Dye
Assistant Professor, Speech and Hearing Science

Hailing from Long Sutton, UK, Matthew Dye completed bachelor and doctoral degrees in psychology and a master's degree in neural computation. He was an assistant professor of deaf studies at the University of Bristol when he accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Rochester to study the impact of deafness on the development of visual skills, an example of cross-modal brain plasticity.

His research has identified changes in visual processing among deaf people, in the form of enhancements in attention to the periphery of their vision. He is interested in whether the auditory cortex is involved in this process. In his Cross-Modal Plasticity Lab, Dr. Dye will continue to explore the potential for brain changes resulting from changes in sensory experience. His goal is to understand the effects of deafness on visual functions at the behavioral and neural levels, and to explore the implications for learning in K-12 and higher education settings. Read more about Dr. Dye.


Christopher Grindrod

Christopher Grindrod
Assistant Professor, Speech and Hearing Science

Christopher Grindrod’s research focuses on discovering which brain areas are responsible for the uniquely human capacity to produce and understand language. With a background in communication disorders, linguistics, and cognitive neuroscience, he is able to approach this area of study from an interdisciplinary perspective using innovative experimental techniques. His primary area of expertise is in studying hemispheric asymmetries in language comprehension. Most notably, he was among the first to systematically compare semantic processing in both patients with left hemisphere damage and those with right hemisphere damage. His research has provided evidence that both hemispheres contribute to key aspects of language processing. Read more about Dr. Grindrod.


Pamela Hadley

Pamela Hadley
Associate Professor, Speech and Hearing Science

Some children experience tremendous difficulty acquiring language, although they are developing typically otherwise. Pamela Hadley’s research focuses on this group of children, those with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). SLI affects about seven percent of the kindergarten population. With a goal of identifying children at risk for SLI early enough to intervene during critical language development periods, Dr. Hadley has investigated grammatical phenomena such as early sentence development, the emergence of tense and agreement marking, and sentence production in very young children. In her current research, she and Dr. Matthew Rispoli are investigating the growth of tense and agreement in children aged 21 to 36 months. Read more about Dr. Hadley.


Fatima T. Husain

Fatima T. Husain
Fatima T. Husain Professor, Speech and Hearing Science

According to the American Tinnitus Association, the number of war veterans with tinnitus disabilities more than doubled between 2000 and 2005. The association also cites a recent study which shows that 49 percent of all soldiers exposed to blasts in Iraq and Afghanistan developed tinnitus. About 50 million people in the United States suffer from this chronic condition, which has no cure. While it is often associated with hearing loss, not everyone with hearing loss will develop tinnitus. Fatima Husain of the Department of Speech and Hearing Science is determined to understand the neural networks within the brain that may be affected by tinnitus in hopes of improving therapeutic interventions. Read more about Dr. Husain.


Aaron Johnson

Aaron Johnson
Assistant Professor, Speech and Hearing Science

Dr. Aaron Johnson is interested in the prevention and treatment of voice disorders in older adults. His research examines how advanced age, vocal training, and voice use/disuse impact laryngeal neuromuscular mechanisms, vocal function, and quality of life. He uses a behavioral animal model, rat ultrasonic vocalizations, to examine changes in muscles and neuromuscular junctions in the larynx. Additionally, Dr. Johnson studies how increasing vocal use through group singing training impacts vocal function and quality of life in older adults. His overall goal is to provide support for developing effective, evidence-based interventions to prevent and/or reverse the deleterious effects of advanced age on the voice. In addition to his scholarly work, Dr. Johnson has been a private voice instructor for nearly 20 years. He is an accomplished vocalist himself, performing as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at both Orchestra Hall and the Ravinia Festival and appearing in several operas. Visit Professor Johnson's home page.


Karen Iler Kirk

Karen Iler Kirk
Professor, Department Head, Speech and Hearing Science

Dr. Kirk has more than 30 years of experience as a clinical researcher focusing on cochlear implants. Her work in this area began at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles, California, where she was the speech-language pathologist on the very first pediatric cochlear implant team headed by William House, M.D. She published the first paper on speech and language outcomes in children with cochlear implants in Ear and Hearing in 1985. Over the course of her career, Dr. Kirk has investigated various facets of speech perception (the process by which language is heard, interpreted, and understood) as impacted by cochlear implantation, as well as speech production and speech intelligibility. She has developed tools for assessing speech perception, including audiovisual tests, and studied language development in infants with cochlear implants. Her work, which is supported by NIH, resulted in more than 300 scholarly publications, invited lectures, and conference presentations.


Matt Rispoli

Matthew Rispoli
Visiting Assistant Professor, Speech and Hearing Science

A developmental psycholinguist, Matthew Rispoli's research examines how children acquire language. Dr. Rispoli has investigated the development of grammar and sentence production among typically developing children. Even among these children, however, there are significant variations in the rate of learning. In his current research, Dr. Rispoli is collaborating with Dr. Pamela Hadley to identify endogenous and exogenous factors affecting differences in developmental rate. Read more about Dr. Rispoli.


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