CASA Lab Newsletter: 2021 Recap and what's to come in 2022

Lab Updates!

Hello from hybrid lab meetings

We are swiftly moving through 2022! We took a moment to reflect back on 2021 to think about some of the major milestones and projects for the lab and about what’s in store in Spring of this year.

Spring and Fall 2021 were all about the challenges of talking with a face mask.

In 2021 we launched and completed a new suite of studies on the effects of face masks on speech. Gursharan Badh and Thea Knowles presented posters for two of these projects at the Motor Speech Conference in February, 2022!

Speech-in-Masks Study: Effects of Clear and Loud Speech:

This study characterizes the impact of face masks on speech in talkers with Parkinson’s disease and asks whether speaking more loudly and/or more clearly can overcome the challenges imposed by masks.

Lab members helped run our participants and helped prepare the audio recordings for our analyses. We will collect perceptual data this spring!

Simulated Speech-in-Masks: Controlled effects of masks on speech acoustics, intelligibility, and listener effort

In collaboration with Dr. Vijay Parsa at Western University (London, Ontario), we collected data on the impact of face masks and face shields using speech recordings played through a Head and Torso Simulator. We also launched an online perceptual study with these data on Prolific.

Our good pal, HATS (Head and Torso Simulator), being a very patient participant.

The impact of face masks on speech acoustics and intelligibility: A scoping review

Gursharan Badh has been leading a scoping review to evaluate the state of the evidence on the impact of face masks on communication. She and Thea plan to submit this at the end of February.

Additional projects

Students in the lab continued working on annotating our corpus of modified speech rate in Parkinson’s disease. Thea presented ongoing work on acoustic and perceptual consequences of modified speech rates in Parkinson’s at Boston Speech Motor Control Symposium and the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association in Summer 2021.

Grants and Awards

  • The CASA lab received the ASHA AARC award to help fund an upcoming project: “Amplifying the voices of Parkinson’s disease: A mixed-methods investigation of the use of augmentative speech amplification technology for hypophonia in Parkinson’s disease.”
  • The CASA lab received the ASH Foundation New Investigators Research Grant to fund the upcoming project: “Prominence and communicative intent in dysarthria”

What’s coming in Spring 2022?

  • Survey of SLPs who treat people with Parkinson’s: We have launched a survey to investigate SLPs’ experiences with the use of amplification devices for speech treatment in Parkinson’s disease (AARC funding).

  • Interviews with people with Parkinson’s who have used amplification devices: We will conduct interviews with people with PD who have experience using amplification devices (AARC funding).

  • How do people with Parkinson’s disease signal important information to listeners?: We have started running a study investigating how Parkinson’s disease affects our ability to convey spoken prominence when giving verbal instructions to a listener (ASH Foundation NIRG funding).

  • Speech-in-Mask studies: We will continue to analyze and write about the impact of masks on communication in Parkinson’s disease based on the findings from our mask studies.

Student Updates

By the end of 2021, we had welcomed the following new students into the lab:

  • Amanda Rubino, Maggie Boye, Nicole Adair, Kelly Gates, Nathan Cline

We would like to congratulate Katie and Prakshal on their next steps - we will miss you!

  • 🎉 Katie Hickey graduated from our SLHS major - Congratulations!
  • 🎉 Prakshal Jain accepted an internship at Stark & Wayne where he will be working starting February 2022 - Congratulations!

Current students:

Kasandra Kinkead

I am currently a senior pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in speech and hearing science at UB. Next year, I will be continuing my studies in the speech pathology master’s program at UB. In my free time, I enjoy going to the gym, watching t.v. and spending time with family.

Norma Hernandez

Norma is a currently an undergraduate in the Speech and Hearing major at the University at Buffalo. In her free time, she likes to read, go on adventures with friends, and do fun puzzles like sudoku

Thea Holder

I completed my bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology at Ithaca College. I am currently a third year Doctorate of Audiology student. I enjoy watching movies, painting, and exploring new hobbies.

Gursharan Badh

I completed my bachelor’s degree in Human Kinetics at the University of Windsor. I came to UB to pursue my Master’s degree. I am currently in my second year as a speech pathology student. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, going on hikes, watching reality tv and listening to audiobooks!

Kelly Gates

I completed my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing at the University at Buffalo. I am now attending UB to receive my masters in speech-language pathology. In my free time, I love playing piano and singing. I also love hanging out with my two cats – Nugget, and Lily.

Nicole Adair

I received a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Science from the University at Buffalo in 2021. I am currently in my first year in the Communicative Disorders and Sciences master’s program at UB. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, baking, and reading!

Amanda Rubino

I am in my senior year at University at Buffalo, and I plan on staying here for my Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology. I have lived in Williamsville, NY for my entire life. In my free time, I like to write, paint my nails, and watch Netflix. I also play clarinet in the UB marching band.

Maggie Boye

I am completing my bachelor of arts degree in speech and hearing sciences with minors in education and counseling. In my free time, I enjoy reading, going to the gym, and spending time with my friends.

Prakshal Jain

I was born and raised in India, and came to University at Buffalo for my bachelor’s degree in Honors Computer Science and pursue my dreams. In my free time, I like to do roller skating and build apps. My passion is developing applications and algorithms that simplify tasks for users in various aspects of life.

Nathan Cline

I completed my bachelor’s degree in Linguistics at UB and stayed here to pursue my master’s degree in speech pathology. In my free time I enjoy playing/writing music, tabletop RPGs, and video game development!