Lab Members

 

Principal Investigator

A woman with brown hair in a blue shirt is smiling in front of a blue-grey background Cara Stepp, Ph.D., directs the STEPP LAB for Sensorimotor Rehabilitation Engineering and is an Associate 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

A man with white hair, a white beard, and a blue shirt is smiling in front of a black background 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.
Magdalen Balz, MS, CCC-SLP, is a Lecturer in the Department of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences at Boston University.  She received her B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of New Hampshire and her M.S. in Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences from Boston University.  Prior to returning to BU as clinical faculty, Maggie was a speech language pathologist at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA.  Her clinical and research interests include assessment and treatment of cognitive and language abilities among people with neurological, neurodegenerative, and genetic disorders, as well as preventative cognitive intervention for seniors.

Staff

Sarah Baker is a clinical fellow and speech-language pathologist in the Boston Public Schools, and recently received her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from Syracuse University. She spent her last graduate externship at Rome Memorial Hospital evaluating and treating pediatric, adult, and geriatric patients in various settings including outpatient clinic, acute/subacute rehabilitation, and intensive care unit. At Syracuse University, Sarah was a research assistant in Dr. Soren Lowell’s Voice and Swallowing Physiology Laboratory where she observed and collected data on the acoustic measures of patients with muscle tension dysphonia. She is very excited to volunteer in the Stepp Lab to continue her passion for sensorimotor disorders of voice and speech. In her free time, she enjoys singing, running, and spending time with family and friends.
A man with brown hair, a light blue shirt, and a green spotted tie is smiling in front of a brown background
Daniel Buckley, MS, CCC-SLP, is a research speech-language pathologist with the STEPP LAB for Sensorimotor Rehabilitation Engineering. He received a B.M. from The Boston Conservatory in voice performance, and his M.S. in communication sciences and disorders with a clinical concentration in voice disorders from Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions. He completed his clinical fellowship in voice, swallowing, and upper airway disorders with the USC Voice Center at Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California. His clinical and research interests include rehabilitation of the professional voice and treatment modalities for laryngeal muscle tension based dysphagia and dysphonia. In his free time, Daniel enjoys playing the piano and sailing.
Megan Cushman is a research fellow in the STEPP Lab. She graduated from Boston University in 2020 with a B.A. in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, with a minor in Vocal Performance. She is interested in how research improves clinical assessment of voice and language disorders. In her free time, Megan enjoys singing, reading, and traveling.
A man with brown hair, a brown beard, glasses, and a gray shirt is smiling in front of a brown background 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).
Anton Dolling is the research coordinator for the STEPP Lab. He received his B.A. with double majors in Linguistics and Spanish from the University of Florida in 2019. In his undergraduate thesis, Anton used eye tracking to investigate the impact of gender identity on Spanish-users’ sensitivity to grammatical gender. Anton plans to continue his education in the field of linguistics. In addition to virtually any form of language-related content, Anton enjoys reading or watching fantasy media, trying delicious new foods, and creating design projects.
Nichole Houle (she/her), Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a postdoctoral fellow in the STEPP Lab. She received a PhD in Communicative Sciences and Disorders at New York University in New York, NY and a BS/MS from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Her research investigates the production and auditory-perception of vocal gender and femininity/masculinity in cisgender and transgender speakers as well as the link between auditory-perception and production of vocal quality in speakers with hyperfunctional voice disorders. She spends her spare time knitting, doing yoga, and playing video games.
Katherine Marks, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a postdoctoral fellow in the STEPP Lab. She received a PhD in Rehabilitation Science at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Institute of Health Professions (IHP), conducting research at the MGH Voice Center in Boston, MA. Prior to her PhD, she worked clinically as a laryngology-specialized speech-language pathologist at Lakeshore Professional Voice Center in St. Clair Shores, MI, after earning her M.S. in communication sciences and disorders from the MGH IHP. She began her career in voice research as an undergraduate intern at the Emory Voice Center, while earning her B.S. in Speech/Communication Across the Lifespan at Georgia State University, where she also minored in Vocal Performance. Katie’s clinical and research interests include: physiological mechanisms related to vocal effort, voice implementation science, and laryngeal dystonia.

Doctoral Research Assistants

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. As an NIH training grant fellow and Rafik B. Hariri Institute graduate fellow in the Stepp Lab, 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.
Kimberly Dahl is a Ph.D. student in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. Kim received her master’s degrees in communication disorders at the University of Rhode Island and in linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a speech-language pathologist who completed her clinical training in voice and swallowing disorders at Oregon Health and Science University. Kim is interested in understanding voice perception, voice change in gender-diverse individuals, and the assessment and treatment of voice disorders. 
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, the laryngeal system, and speech production. He enjoys running and watching movies.
Mara Kapsner-Smith is a Ph.D. student in Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington (UW). She received her M.S. in Medical Speech-Language Pathology from UW in 2009, where she conducted research in auditory-perceptual evaluation of voice quality. She has worked clinically as a laryngology-specialized SLP, as a research scientist at the National Center for Voice and Speech, and as a lecturer in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at UW. Her current research focuses on the pathophysiology of voice disorders.
Nicole Tomassi is a Ph.D. student in the Graduate Program for Neuroscience at BU. She graduated from San Diego State University in 2019 with a B.S in Applied Mathematics. Her research interests include brain-computer interfaces and neural modelling with clinical applications. In her free time, Nicole enjoys teaching and practising yoga, rock climbing, and traveling.
A woman with black hair, a purple top, and a pink necklace is smiling in front of a dark background Hasini Weerathunge is a Ph.D. student in Biomedical Engineering at Boston University. She received her B.S. in Engineering from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka where she majored in Electronic and Telecommunication Engineering. Her research interests include brain-computer interfaces and neuro-engineering applications that enhance the human quality of life. Her current research work involves utilizing auditory & somatosensory motor perturbations of voice and speech to develop neuro-computational models of sensorimotor control for disordered populations. In 2020, Hasini was awarded the Rafik B. Hariri Institute Graduate Student Fellowship to pursue computational and data-driven research. 

Master’s Research Assistants

Ilaina Edelstein is a master’s student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Boston University. She received her B.A. in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences from the George Washington University in 2019. She is interested in voice and motor speech disorders, especially Parkinson’s disease, and is looking forward to exploring the relation of science, medicine, and speech through a multidisciplinary approach. She enjoys baking, listening to music, and traveling.
Kristen Ho is a master’s student in Speech-Language Pathology at Boston University. She graduated with a B.A. in Hearing and Speech Sciences with a minor in Spanish from the University of Maryland in 2020. She is excited to learn about how engineering can be used to impact communication disorders, and how it can be applied in a medical setting. She is especially interested in swallowing, voice, and motor speech disorders that arise from complex medical conditions. Kristen enjoys nature, traveling, trying new restaurants, and playing piano in her free time.
Shannon Lee is a master’s student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Boston University. She graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara in 2020 with BAs in Linguistics and History of Art & Architecture. Her current research interests include voice disorders and perceptual bias. In her free time Shannon enjoys teaching yoga, cooking, and petting her cat, Scrappy.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Julie Gomez is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Human Physiology on the Pre-medical track. She is an aspiring physician leaning towards pursuing a surgical residency. In her free time, Julie creates digital art pieces inspired by vintage photographs and eye catching patterns. She is originally from Bogotá, Colombia.
Amanda Mount is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Human Physiology with a minor in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. She hopes to get more involved in the field of SLH Sciences and to apply what she has learned so far towards research. In her free time, Amanda plays for the BU Women’s Club Hockey team, and enjoys being with her friends and taking walks around Boston.
Laura Raiff is an undergraduate student studying Biomedical Engineering at Boston University. She is very interested in the functioning of the nervous system and hopes to use her technical skills to help develop engineering solutions for neurological disorders. In her free time, Laura enjoys long runs, sketching, and finding new boba tea places to try.

Clinical Recruitment Assistants

A man in a black shirt with a khaki jacket is smiling outside Connor Kim is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Biomedical Engineering. He hopes to someday apply his engineering degree towards developing medical devices. In his free time, he enjoys playing the piano, competing in tourneys for Boston University’s Club Inline Hockey, and playing board games.
A woman with brown curly hair smiles in front of a white background Katherine Krowl is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences in Sargent College. She is eager to gain experience in both a clinical setting and research lab, as well as community outreach. Outside of her studies, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, cooking, and exploring Boston.
A woman in a blue shirt is smiling in front of a brick wall Stefanie Lioudis is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Behavioral Biology on a pre-med track. She hopes to explore how clinical work and lab research come together, and she is excited about participating in community outreach. Outside of her studies, she enjoys cooking and exploring Boston and is a member of the varsity dance team at BU.
A woman smiles in front of water Tyler Ross is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. She has a strong passion for public health with a concentration in speech pathology. Outside of her studies, she enjoys listening to music, cheering on the BU hockey team and exploring Boston.

 

Lab Alumni

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