You are here

December Department Newsletter

December 8, 2016

Greetings from historic Shevlin Hall. This newsletter will bring you up to date with a range of activities by our faculty and students. We have a lot to be proud of.

First, we are excited to announce a new fundraising initiative beginning this December, to strengthen SLHS support for future doctoral students through the Leslie E Glaze Graduate Fellowship Endowment. Leslie and Richard Glaze, along with our SLHS faculty and staff, have created a special matching fund to double the impact of your donation. Leslie served as director of clinical programs in SLHS (1997-2004). This is the first public campaign for the fellowship that bears her name. Learn more about the importance of this fund and how you can contribute.

Congratulations to Peggy Nelson, who was named Scholar of the College! This award is in recognition of her scholarly research and creative work, teaching, and service. She joins some of CLA's most distinguished and accomplished scholars. Well done, Peggy!

Grants Awards

The University put out a call for grant proposals to address critical challenges facing our diverse and changing world. This “Grand Challenges” grant program is part of the University of Minnesota’s strategic plan. Of the 29 grants awarded university-wide, three were earned by our own SLHS faculty, each of whom are team leaders on these interdisciplinary projects:

  • Dr. Jessica Brown: Toward a Minnesota model for brain health in youth sports
  • Dr. Liza Finestack: Reducing early language disparities: A key to lifelong academic, socioeconomic, and health success
  • Dr. Yang Zhang: Cracking the speech code: A cross-linguistic neurobehavioral approach to language learning in typical and atypical populations

Dr. Sheri Stronach is the primary investigator of an “Engaged Department” grant funded by the university’s Office of Public Engagement. These grants seek to increase faculty and staff awareness and understanding of community engagement as a tool to enhance teaching, research, and service. A tab on our new department website (launched this past June) features our department’s engaged activities.

Dr. Jessica Brown and other members of the department received an Academic Innovation Grant from the College of Liberal Arts in June, 2016. This grant, titled "High-tech Augmentative and Alternative Communication Supports—Bridging the Gap Between Classroom and Clinic Room" will be used to create an AAC lab housed in SLHS. This lab will allow undergraduate and graduate students to promote community-engaged clinical practices for individuals requiring communication supports.

This past July, Dr. Joe Reichle submitted a successful renewal of an approximately $3.5 million dollar, 5-year training grant to the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services, Washington D.C. The training project focuses on Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) for students representing 13 health and allied health professions and is one of 53 such projects funded nationally. Dr. Reichle currently serves as Research Director and Co-PI for this project along with Dr. Amy Hewitt (Institute on Community Integration-College of Education and Human Development) and Dr. Michael Reiff (Department of Pediatrics). The project will provide fellowships for approximately 26–28 Predoctoral, Post-Doctoral and Community Fellows.

Dr. Mark DeRuiter is one of three of University of Minnesota health care providers who has been selected to join eight teams of health care providers in the first three-year cohort of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars program. This new national leadership program is designed to give health care leaders the tools to address health equity. The grant addresses oral health challenges in children with multiple health care needs in Minnesota.

Dr. Mark DeRuiter also wrote a successful grant to replace an aging middle-ear diagnostic machine for our clinic. This new equipment measures the classic middle-ear measures as well as wideband reflectance. Our students can now measure three-dimensional, wideband tympanograms! The award was made through a Liberal Arts Technologies and Services Infrastructure grant.

Other News

Professor Zhang’s Grand Challenges grant was preceded by several years of collaboration, including a special SLHS outreach opportunity in Shanghai, China this past July. Three faculty (Dr.’s Yang Zhang, Mark DeRuiter, and myself) along with Erin Diamond, a former student and a SLP at North Memorial Health Care in Robbinsdale, offered a Summer Institute sponsored by the School of Foreign Languages at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. We shared with them the rich history of speech-language pathology and audiology at the University of Minnesota and offered an overview of what an SLP degree program would entail. Professors and students from throughout China attended.

The last newsletter addressed “Hearing Loss Matters”, a PBS documentary featuring me (as an extra) as well as the department's two clinical audiologists, Dr.’s Sarah Angerman and Kerry Witherell. Since the last newsletter, this documentary was nominated for an Emmy.

Portrait of Dr. Chuck Speaks holding his book, "Introduction to Sound."
Dr. Chuck Speaks with a copy of his book.

Emeritus Professors Dr. Chuck Speaks and Karlind Moller joined me at the department to welcome a reunion of the SLP class of 1976. A photo of some of the participants in the reunion is featured on the SLHS alumni page. During that visit, I learned that Emeritus Professor Chuck Speaks has written a 4th edition of his book, “An Introduction to Sound.”

Dr. Ben Munson featured on WCCO's Good Question segment! The question was “Why do some people sing so well?” View the segment and read the accompanying article.

Rachel Ayers joined SLHS as the Department Administrator last April. Prior to joining our department, Rachel was the administrator for the Institute of Linguistics. She is a graduate of the Carlson School of Management and has worked for the University since 2009. Rachel joins Clinic Manager Casie Fenner, Graduate Programs Coordinator Erin Flannery, and Administrative Specialist Kelly Michel as members of the SLHS administration team.


Congratulations to Dr. Liza Finestack, Amanda Kriese, and Katie Bangert for receiving a Certificate of Recognition for a Meritorious Poster Submission from ASHA! They presented their poster and received certificates at the ASHA Convention in Philadelphia in November.

Congratulations to doctoral student Hannah Julien, recipient of a prestigious American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation New Century Scholars Doctoral Scholarship award. Her advisors are Dr. Liza Finestack and Dr. Joe Reichle.

Congratulations to Master's student Yasmin Abdi who received a University of Minnesota Dr. Nancy “Rusty” Barceló Scholarship. This award is offered through the University's Office for Equity and Diversity Women's Center. This scholarship was celebrated at the University's "Celebrating University Women" awards program on October 20th.

Audiology graduate student Maureen Stormont has received a Lakeview Foundation 2016 Scholarship. The Lakeview Foundation is part of the Lakeview Health System and is committed addressing the health and wellness needs of the community. Congratulations, Maureen!

Hannah Julien, PhD candidate, was awarded a prestigious University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. This fellowship gives the University's most accomplished PhD candidates an opportunity to devote full-time effort to an outstanding research project by providing time to finalize and write a dissertation during the fellowship year.

Undergraduate Laura Schulz was awarded a 2016–2017 CLA Selmer Birkelo Scholarship. To be considered for a Selmer Birkelo Scholarship, students must be majoring in fields relating to history, modern languages, classics, or the social and behavioral sciences, and they must be nominated to the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs by their major department.

Matthew Waggenspack and Hannah Erickson received an audiology/hearing science research travel award for the ASHA convention.

In Our Thoughts

Eileen Siegel passed away on Friday, July 1, 2016. We extend our condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues. She was married to the late Dr. Jerry Siegel, a professor in the department for 36 years before he retired in 1997. Jerry loved working with students, and in 2011, Jerry and Eileen began the Gerald M. Siegel Student Initiative Fund which supports student projects. Their generous donations funded a movie event and panel discussion about stuttering.

The community of SLHS was very saddened to lose Kendra Rae Lindfors, an undergraduate major and a core undergraduate research assistant in the Child Language Intervention Lab. Kendra passed away unexpectedly last March. Kendra was a tremendous asset to the research team in the language lab. She was responsible for completing complex coding of child language samples, which she did with remarkable accuracy and always a friendly smile. We miss her every day.