Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Cara Stepp, Ph.D., directs the STEPP LAB for Sensorimotor Rehabilitation Engineering and is Assistant Professor in the Departments of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences, Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, and Biomedical Engineering at Boston University. She received the S.B. in Engineering Science from Smith College, S.M. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology. Prior to joining BU, she completed postdoctoral training in Computer Science & Engineering and Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington. Dr. Stepp’s research uses engineering tools to improve the assessment and rehabilitation of sensorimotor disorders of voice and speech.

Associated Faculty

203 Joseph Perkell, Ph.D, D.M.D, is a senior research scientist in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. He received his S.B. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, D.M.D from Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and PhD in Speech Communication from MIT. Dr. Perkell’s primary area of research is in speech motor control, with a strong focus on speech kinematics, constraints and motor control strategies, and the role of hearing. His research laboratory at MIT developed the EMMA system, the first electromagnetic articulometer system, which was demonstrated to have the accuracy and reliability required for rigorous research on speech kinematics. Dr. Perkell has also studied the brain mechanisms underlying speech motor control and the influence of these mechanisms on speech kinematics and acoustics.
Shembel Bio Pic Adrianna Shembel is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pittsburgh, studying laryngeal physiology and pathophysiology with Dr. Verdolini Abbott as well as adjunct faculty in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. She earned her B.S. in Communication Science & Disorders, with minors in Theater, Dance, and Music with a voice emphasis from the Pennsylvania State University, and her M.A. in Communication Science & Disorders from the University of Pittsburgh. She is also a licensed speech-language pathologist and has practiced in a variety of outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation settings, diagnosing and treating patients with voice, breathing, and swallowing disorders. Her doctoral work is on clinical feature taxonomy and pathophysiological mechanisms of paradoxical vocal fold motion disorder (PVFMD) and other episodic laryngeal breathing disorders (ELBD).

Staff

1 - 1 Katherine Brown is a Recruitment Specialist with Boston University’s College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences. She received a B.A. with double majors in American Sign Language and Psychology from the University of Rochester in 2017. In the future, she hopes to enter a career in research examining information and language deprivation in deaf individuals, such as how a lack of early language access may lead to psychopathology as well as preventative measures to ensure Deaf children are provided with early access to a visual language. In her free time, she enjoys attending music festivals, making ceramics, or socializing with the Deaf community. 
manuel Manuel Díaz Cádiz is a Research Fellow at Boston University.  He received his M.S. in Electronic Engineering from the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María. He was a visiting student of Real-time Embedded Software Group in the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada, in 2014; and is a former student of the the Voice Production Laboratory (VPLab) from the Department of Electronic Engineering at UTFSM. His research interests are related to digital signal processing, image and video analysis, computer vision algorithms and advanced digital systems design. He was a recipient of a CONICYT scholarship from the Chilean Government, an Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) scholarship from the Government of Canada and the award for best project of the Maxwell category at the EXPO ELO 2015 (UTFSM).
Ashling Lupiani is a Visiting Fellow in the Stepp Lab. She received her B.A. in Neuroscience and Minor in Engineering Science from Boston University in 2017. As an undergraduate, she received an NIH Undergraduate Fellowship in Computational Neuroscience to complete an honors thesis in the Stepp Lab: “Articulatory strategies and speech rate: using Parkinson’s disease as a model of disordered articulation”. Ashling hopes to further her knowledge of computational neuroscience and apply it to research that will improve individuals’ well-being. Her current work in the lab focuses on auditory-motor function in individuals with voice and speech disorders. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and exploring Boston.
tali Talia Mittelman is the lab manager of the Stepp Lab and a graduate student in the M.Eng. program in Biomedical Engineering at Boston University. She received her B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her current research interests involve assistive technologies for children and adults with developmental disorders, human-machine interfaces and the use of biofeedback in rehabilitative medicine. In addition to managing the lab, Talia assists with a number of research projects: exploring the kinematic features of speech errors induced by delayed auditory feedback and measuring velopharyngeal function in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. In her spare time, Talia enjoys hiking, drawing, and traveling.

Doctoral Research Assistants

Defne Defne Abur is a Ph.D. student in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. She received a B.S. in Engineering Science from Smith College with a concentration in Biomathematics and performed research in hearing sciences and middle ear acoustics. Defne worked in the Stepp Lab as lab manager and a research engineer from 2014 – 2017. Her work focuses on auditory factors in voice and speech production, autophonic judgments of voice, and the use of auditory perturbation paradigms to study speech and voice motor control. Outside of the lab, Defne loves to sing and play the ukulele.
Gabriel Cler Gabriel Cler is a Ph.D. student in Computational Neuroscience at Boston University. He has a B.S. in Computer Science from Bradley University and received a Graduate Certificate in Cognitive Science from the University of Central Florida. His research interests involve applying quantitative and computational methods to rehabilitate speech motor control disorders in children and adults. His research at BU focuses on AAC, speech motor control, and developing quantitative assessment and videogame rehabilitation for individuals with resonance disorders. His NIH F31-funded dissertation is to develop and validate novel communication interfaces for individuals with severe paralysis.
Headshot Matti Groll is a Ph.D. student in Biomedical Engineering at Boston University. He graduated from BU in 2017 with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering. His research interests include areas of signal processing, auditory systems, and speech production. He enjoys running, going to the movies, and watching Netflix.
Lizpicture_smaller_test2 Liz Heller Murray, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a Ph.D. student in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Linguistics from Emory University in 2009 and her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology at MGH Institute of Health Professions in 2013. She completed her clinical fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital and continues her clinical collaboration with their Voice and Velopharyngeal Dysfunction Program. Liz’s research interests involve working on improvements in both rehabilitation techniques and assistive devices for children and adults with voice and resonance dysfunction. She is currently completing her dissertation (funded by an NIH F31 fellowship) in the area of auditory-motor function in children with voice disorders. In her free time she enjoys traveling, reading, and baking.
Victoria McKenna, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a Ph.D. student in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. She received her B.S. from Syracuse University in both Communication Sciences and Disorders and Psychology, and an M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of New Hampshire. Tory also previously pursued graduate study in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Cincinnati. Her research interests include voice, swallowing, and translating basic research to clinical populations. In addition to completing her dissertation work in the area of physiological mechanisms of vocal effort as an NIH training grant fellow in the Stepp Lab, Tory sees voice and swallowing patients as a speech-language pathologist at Boston Medical Center.
Park copy Yeonggwang Park is a Ph.D. student in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. He received the B.A. in Music (vocal performance) from Gordon College. His research interests include improving voice assessment and treatment techniques for people with functional voice disorders.
dante Dante Smith is a Ph.D. student in Computational Neuroscience at Boston University working collaboratively with BU’s Guenther Lab (primary) and the Stepp Lab. He graduated from BU in 2012 with a B.S. Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Mechanical Engineering. His research interests include neural prostheses, brain-computer interfaces, and sensorimotor control of voice. His dissertation is focused on auditory and somatosensory aspects of vocal control. His interests are travel, Ultimate Frisbee, and cooking.

Jenny Vojtech is a Ph.D. student in Biomedical Engineering at Boston University. She received her B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her current research interests involve developing computational methods to improve the clinical assessment of voice disorders and applying quantitative techniques to enhance augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device access. In 2017, Jenny was awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to improve the functionality of AAC speech synthesis capabilities through the optimization of speed, usability, and accuracy.

M.S. Research Assistants

Wendy Feinstein is an M.S. student in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. She received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering with a concentration in Biochemical Engineering from University of Massachusetts – Amherst. Her current research interests involve seeking scientifically-based methodologies to improve speech abilities of people with speech impairments. In her spare time, Wendy enjoys cooking and spending time with her friends.
13227798_10206994632679878_5177799644838397818_o Lauren MacLellan is a combined B.S/M.S student in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. She received her B.S. from Boston University in May 2016. Her current research interests include Augmentative Alternative Communication devices and their application for the treatment of various communicative disorders, specifically those caused by neurodegenerative disease and traumatic brain injury. In her free time she enjoys browsing Pinterest, playing soccer, and exploring Boston with her friends.
Jennifer Hylkema is a M.S student in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at Boston University.  She received her B.S. from Syracuse University where she majored in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Neuroscience and minored in Psychology. Her current research interests include examining factors that influence acoustic measurements in individuals with voice disorders. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys running, baking, and hiking.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

5452bcde981d9.image Nicole Enos is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Biomedical Engineering. She is interested in Computer Engineering and applying engineering techniques to improving people’s lives. She enjoys learning new skills, trying new foods, hiking, and exploring Boston.
stepppic Jake Noordzij is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Biomedical Engineering. He hopes to implement engineering techniques to have a real world impact. In his free time, Jake enjoys relaxing with his friends and eating exotic foods.
nadia_picture Nadia Oleinik is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Human Physiology and Mathematics. She’s interested in the physiology of various disorders and hopes to study them more to find solutions. In her free time, Nadia enjoys cooking, hiking, and playing ultimate frisbee.
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Katharine Kolin is an undergraduate student at Boston University with a double major in Neuroscience and Computer Science. She is specifically interested in studying brain machine interfaces and computational neuroscience as well as neural prostheses. She hopes to invest her time in building and implementing technologies that will not only improve people’s quality of life, but will also provide equity to individuals with impairments.
Zach Morgan is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Biomedical Engineering. He is interested in medical device design and applying engineering techniques he has acquired throughout his studies. In his free time, he enjoys going to the movies with his friends, playing soccer, and biking around Boston.

Clinical Recruitment Assistants

jpinto Jocelin Pinto is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Biomedical Engineering. She is interested in gaining clinical experience and hopes to apply the skills she learns to future research in healthcare. On her spare time, she enjoys exploring restaurants around Boston, going to concerts, running and spending time with friends.
profpic2 Ria Varadhan is an undergraduate student studying Computer Science at Boston University. She is interested in gaining clinical experience and learning more about biomedical research and its applications. In her free time she enjoys reading, watching hockey, and getting lost in the city.
Bianca Viazzoli is an undergraduate student at Boston University in the College of General Studies Boston London Program continuing into Sargent College to study Health Science. Her goal is to engage in epidemiological research to uncover patterns in the health of women and children and determine how those patterns affect growth and learning. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the city, cooking, playing intramural sports, and spending time with her friends. 

 

Lab Alumni

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