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.
Taylor Feaster is a Research Fellow for the STEPP lab. She received her B.A. in Neuroscience, with a minor in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences from Boston University in May 2021. Taylor is interested in exploring the intersection between neurological disorders and speech production/perception. In her free time, Taylor enjoys playing tennis, baking, and listening to music.
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.
Amna Mira is a research assistant at the STEPP Lab. She received her M.S. in Speech- Language Pathology from Boston University in May 2020. Amna is currently a faculty member at King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences in Jeddah, SA. She is committed to improving the field of Speech- Language Pathology in her country by teaching the new generation of SLPs, and to contributing to a better quality of care by enhancing services provided to patients. Amna is also passionate about conducting research in the area of Medical Speech- Language Pathology, especially Swallowing, Voice, and Motor Speech Disorders. Amna enjoys teaching, volunteering, traveling, biking, decorating and exploring new restaurants.

Doctoral Research Assistants

Allison Aaron, MS, CCC-SLP, is a Ph.D. student in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. She received a M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a concentration in voice at Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions and went on to work as a laryngology-specialized speech-language pathologist at Stony Brook University Hospital. Allison has been devoted to both the science and art of voice since earning her B.A. in Vocal Performance and Psychology at Bucknell University. Allison’s clinical and research interests include the role of auditory perception in voice and speech production, motor learning, and vocal hyperfunction.
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 speech production, autophonic judgments of speech, and the use of auditory perturbation paradigms to study speech motor control.
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. 
Daria Dragicevic is a Ph.D. student in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. She received her B.A. in Linguistics from San Diego State University with a certificate in Computational Linguistics, where she performed research on language production in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. Daria is interested in understanding motor speech control in patients with Laryngeal Dystonia and Parkinson’s Disease. In her free time, Daria enjoys cooking, swimming, and backcountry skiing.
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.
Martina Lopez is a master’s student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Boston University. She graduated with a B.A. in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences from San Diego State University in 2021. As a classical vocalist, she is interested in voice and speech disorders, especially amongst trained and untrained singers. In her free time, Martina loves theatre, reading, and exploring the new city she’s in.
Rachel Norotsky is a master’s student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Boston University. She graduated from Wake Forest University in 2021 with a B.A. in Psychology, a B.A. in Spanish, and a minor in Linguistics. She is interested in sensorimotor disorders of voice and perceptual bias. Rachel enjoys Peloton classes, watching Spanish television, and tutoring children.
Chloë Thorburn is a master’s student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Boston University. She graduated from New York University in 2020 with a B.S. in Communicative Sciences and Disorders and a minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. She is especially interested in voice disorders and dysphagia. Chloe enjoys hiking, skiing, and cooking in her free time.
Mercedes Valladares is a master’s student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Boston University. She graduated with a B.A in Linguistics and Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and with minors in Deaf Studies and Italian from Boston University in 2021. She is especially interested in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), as well as voice and motor speech disorders. In her free time, Mercedes enjoys traveling, playing board games, and sending pen-pal letters.
Jen Weston is a master’s student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Boston University. She graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders and minors in Spanish and Linguistics. Her research interests include motor speech disorders and voice perception and she is looking forward to performing research of an interdisciplinary nature. In her free time, she enjoys baking, reading, traveling, and spending time with friends!

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Jacqueline Gomez is a certified EMT and an undergraduate student at Boston University. She is studying Biology with a Specialization in Behavioral Biology and pursuing a minor in Women and Gender Studies. She is excited to gain experience in an interdisciplinary research lab whilst exploring the nuances of voice disorders and their rehabilitation. Outside of her studies, Jacqueline enjoys cooking, dancing, singing to Selena, and wandering around Boston.
Riya Gopal is a third year undergraduate student at BU studying Health Science through Sargent College. She is currently on a pre-dental track and is interested in synthesizing dentistry with speech, language, and hearing sciences. Riya is super passionate about public health and advocating for marginalized communities in the healthcare system. In her free time,  Riya loves reading, using her spin bike, and trying new foods. 
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.
Aaron Moy is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Human Physiology. He is a certified EMT and hopes to gain experience in both a clinical and research setting. Aaron is passionate about teaching others, especially from other places and cultures. In his free time, he loves to cook as well as biking around the Charles River esplanade.
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.
Dilys Tan is a master’s student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Boston University. She graduated with a B.S. in Communicative Sciences and Disorders with a minor in American Sign Language from New York University in 2021. She is particularly interested in multilingualism, psychoacoustics, and the intersection between medical technology and speech pathology. In her free time, you can catch Dilys cooking, singing, or tossing both discs, and sometimes people, in either Frisbee or judo.
Dea Turashvili is a certified EMT and an undergraduate Biomedical Engineering student on the pre-medical track at Boston University. She is interested in learning more about the practical applications of biomedical engineering and gaining skills in data analysis. In her free time, Dea loves taking yoga classes and dancing.

Clinical Recruitment Assistants

Michelle Bernard is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Biology with a specialization in Behavioral Biology. She is interested in learning about the assessment of voice disorders in a clinical setting and the influence of technology on rehabilitation. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, baking, and trying new restaurants.
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.

 

Lab Alumni

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