Callier Students Make a Show of Their Research
Forum Highlights Poster Presentations from Undergrad and Grad Students
Apr. 27, 2011
UT Dallas students pursuing research in communication sciences and disorders showcased their ideas and findings Friday at the Callier Promotion of Academic and Clinical Excellence (PACE) forum.
The forum featured 27 poster presentations from undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. The presentations included pilot research findings, ideas for studies and completed projects on such topics as autism, cochlear implants and speech and language delays.
UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders hosted the event at its Dallas campus. The forum was established in 2009.
Dr. Jeffrey Martin
“Our continued goal is that the forum will promote and recognize the many talented students in communication sciences, communication disorders, audiology and speech-language pathology, by providing an opportunity for them to display and discuss their research projects and ideas with fellow students and faculty in an interactive setting,” said Dr. Jeffrey Martin, assistant professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
Martin, who spearheaded the creation of PACE, said the activities associated with PACE are instrumental to Callier’s growth and recognition within the University and scientific community.
The presenters included Blair Miller, a doctoral student in communication disorders who is studying biological and environmental factors that may increase the risk for 6-year-old children to have low receptive vocabulary skills. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Christine Dollaghan.
Miller worked as a speech-language pathologist for the Richardson Independent School District before deciding to pursue a PhD.
“While working, I was faced with different challenges appearing to stem from certain socio-demographic factors,” said Miller, who plans to submit her study to a journal for publication.
Rachel Nowlin, a senior psychology major graduating in May, studied how traits that are associated with autism can be present in people without the disorder.
Social aloofness, problems with communication and difficulty understanding what others are thinking exist in people without autism, but at levels that don’t cause them problems. These traits are called the Broad Autism Phenotype (BAP) and also are found in people who have problems processing social information.
Nowlin worked with faculty mentor Dr. Noah Sasson to study BAP in the general population and the relationship between BAP, social processing and real-world social skills, like conversation.
“Before our study, most of the research done on this had been missing that real-world component, so our study is exciting because it shows how social cognition deficits related to BAP actually influence people’s daily social skills,” Nowlin said. “The study’s findings can also be important for developing targeted interventions for the social difficulties associated with autism.”
Nowlin is writing an honors thesis on the project.
The forum was the centerpiece of a daylong program that included seminar presentations on the treatment of fluency disorders by Dr. Walt Manning, professor and associate dean at the University of Memphis’ School of Communication Sciences and Disorders.