Newsletter: 2023 Wrap-up

Let’s get you up to speed on what has been happening in the Lab in 2023 and what is to come! It has been so exciting watching our lab grow in its new home at MSU. We have so much to look forward to in 2024.

News: New lab, new name!

This fall we moved next door to a new lab space and got it furnished and up and running. We also recently adopted a new lab name! Speech Outcomes in Neurogenic Disease: Influences on Communication (SONIC). Keep an eye out for a new website in 2024!

We also welcomed two new undergraduate students into our lab: welcome Chloe and Allison!

Community and Outreach Activities

Greater Lansing Area Parkinson’s Disease Support Group

We have been so lucky to be able to connect with the local Parkinson’s support group, run by Mark and Toni Talbot and supported by the Michigan Parkinson Foundation. Thea was invited to give a talk to this group in April and shared information about speech, swallowing, and therapy tech developments for Parkinson’s.

Check out this great children’s book written by Toni Talbot called “My Nunna Has Parkinson’s."

MSU Science Fest

In spring of 2023 the CASA lab had a table at the annual MSU Science festival! This was such a great opportunity to inform the public about what speech can tell us about neurodegenerative disease. We had many fun activities set up in an effort to engage those who stopped by. Activities included making paper brain hats, paper larynxes, and allowing people to record their voice and then look at and visualize acoustic features of their own speech with the assistance of Dr. Knowles. What a fun way to engage with the community! We can’t wait to do this again in 2024. The SONIC lab also plans to get involved with Grandparent’s University at MSU in Summer 2024 – keep an eye out for more details to come!

Parkinson Hero Walk

Our lab and friends participated in the Parkinson Hero Walk on September 30th 2023! Thank you to all who donated - we surpassed our goal and raised over $800 for the cause. We had SUCH a good time supporting the cause, advocating for speech and language services in Parkinson’s, and learning about other health care providers who help support people with Parkinson’s and their loved ones. We also got a whole lot of steps in (3 miles worth!!)! We can’t wait to do it again next year!


We had five papers published this year. We are especially proud of two papers of ours published this year that were driven by student first authors from the University at Buffalo (Nathaniel Cline and Gursharan Badh). These papers wrapped up some of our work on the effects of face masks on speech and the consequences for talkers with Parkinson disease:

  • Cline, N., Knowles, T., & Badh, G. (2023). Effect of Face Masks and Speech Style on Speech Intelligibility and Listener Effort in Parkinson’s Disease. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 1-15. doi, free preprint
  • Badh, G., & Knowles, T. (2023). Acoustic and perceptual impact of face masks on speech: A scoping review. Plos one, 18(8), e0285009. doi, free preprint

We are also proud of UB MA student Kelly Gates for submitting TWO manuscripts this year that report our findings on our mixed methods research on speech amplification device usage for Parkinson’s disease. This project wraps up our project funded by the ASHA Advancing Academic Research Careers Award (AARC)!


ASHA Banner

Our work was all over the world this year! Dr. Knowles presented work funded by the ASH Foundation New Investigators Grant at the Acoustical Society of America Meeting in Chicago, IL, and the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association Meeting in Salzburg, Austria. Two students presented ongoing work related to our amplification device projects at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in Boston, MA.

  • Acoustical Society of America (ASA): “Acoustic Prominence in Parkinson’s Disease.”
  • International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association (ICPLA): “The impact of prominence on speech intelligibility in Parkinson’s disease.
  • American Speech-Language Hearing Association Convention (ASHA):
    • “Effects of speech amplification technology on speech intelligiblity of naturalistic speech” (presented by Aishwarya Ramani, PhD student).
    • “Speech amplification device usage for Parkinson’s disease: A qualitative interview study with speech-language pathologists” (presented by Kelly Gates, MA student at the University at Buffalo). Aishwarya presenting at ASHA Kelly presenting at ASHA

Thanks for reading! We can’t wait to share more about our exciting upcoming projects in the new year!