The University of Maine Communications Sciences and Disorders program offers students the opportunity to work alongside world-class researchers on cutting-edge communication research. Each research laboratory serves as both a research center, a clinical services opportunity,  and a training ground for graduate student populations. Research assistants are selected to partner with faculty researchers as part of the application process.  

Speech Therapy Telepractice Laboratory

Research in improving the quality of life for individuals with aphasia and their caregivers through synchronous telepractice groups is overseen by Dr. Judy Walker.  The Speech Therapy Telepractice Program provides cutting edge technical experience and clinical supervision opportunities for graduate students interested in the use of technology for speech therapy.  Dr. Walker has extensive clinical experience working in medical centers, rehabilitation hospitals, and long-term care facilities. and teaches graduate courses in traumatic brain injury, aphasia, right hemisphere damage and dementia.

The Speech Therapy Telepractice Laboratory supports one graduate assistant per year.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Laboratory

The Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) lab provides direct client services to diverse populations, including individuals with ALS, Cerebral Palsy, Locked-In Syndrome, Aphasia, TBI, RHD, Fragile X, Down Syndrome, and Autism. Overseen by Dr. Jennifer Seale, students working with the AAC inform the design, assessment, and use of augmented communication delivery and product design using human-computer interaction, interaction analysis, and mixed-methodology techniques. Dr. Seale and the AAC laboratory are also dedicated to advocacy and public education around important social and systemic issues unique to the AAC community.

The Augmentative and Alternative Communication Laboratory supports one graduate assistant per year.

Early Language and Literacy Research Laboratory

Ongoing research exploring the relationship between language and hearing loss in early language acquisition in both typically developing children and those with communication disorders is overseen by Dr. Jane Puhlman. Recognized for her expertise in language development, students studying under Dr. Puhlman work with preschool and school-aged children in the areas of narrative development of children with hearing loss and the impact of parental modeling on children’s language development. Utilizing the LENA system, Dr. Puhlman records and analyzes communication in the child’s natural environment. 

The Early Language and Literacy Research Laboratory supports one graduate assistant per year.

Neurolinguistics and Aphasia Laboratory

The Neurolinguistics and Aphasia Lab is dedicated to understanding brain-language relationships which will lead to improved assessment and treatment of individuals with acquired language disorders or age-related cognitive decline. Overseen by Dr. Christopher Grindrod, students in the Neurolinguistics and Aphasia Lab examine acquired language disorders to better understand how language is processed by the brain, including work with individuals with aphasia, patients with right hemisphere brain damage, and individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Grindrod’s current research examines the effect of left- vs. right-brain damage on the ability to use lexical- and sentence-level context information to guide word processing. He has also recently begun studying the effects of aging on language comprehension.

The Neurolinguistics and Aphasia Laboratory supports one graduate assistant per year.

Fluency Research Laboratory

The Fluency Research Laboratory focuses on the interaction of stuttering and language development in children. Overseen by Dr. Nancy Hall, student researchers in the laboratory have the opportunity to develop their own research themes within the area of fluency research. Dr. Hall is also interested in developing protocols for clinical observations in Communications Sciences and Disorders. 

The Fluency Research Laboratory supports one graduate assistant per year. 

Sample Graduate Theses

  • Pierce, M.M. (2018). Early intervention speech-language pathologists: A systematic review. Advisor: Dr. Nancy E. Hall
  • Martins, K. (2016). Worldwide speech-language pathology practices: Stuttering and multilingualism. Advisor: Dr. Nancy E. Hall
  • DeMaris, A. (2014). Measurement and interpretation of longest utterances in child language samples. Advisor: Dr. Allan B. Smith.
  • Pelletier, A. (2014). The impact of speaking voice on gender identity among transgender and transsexual individuals.  Advisor: Dr. Nancy E. Hall.
  • Fahey, K. (2012). Comparisons of father’s and mother’s joint book reading with their toddlers and its effect on emergent literacy development. Advisor: Dr. Nancy E. Hall.
  • Randazza, J. (2012).  Cochlear implants: Are expectations related to how parents are informed? Advisor: Dr. Nancy E. Hall.