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.
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 faculty lecturer in the Department of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences at Boston University. He received his M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions and a clinical fellowship in voice, swallowing, and upper airway disorders with the USC Voice Center at Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California. Daniel is a research speech-language pathologist in the Stepp lab, where his research focuses include high-speed laryngeal imaging, the acoustic evaluation of voice in various populations including laryngeal dystonia, muscle tension dysphonia, and parkinson’s disease, and the efficacy of various novel voice interventions. He also supervises the Boston University Voice Clinic, and is a practicing clinician in the Department of Otolaryngology’s Voice and Swallowing Center at Boston Medical Center.

Staff

Sarah Cocroft is a Research Fellow for the STEPP Lab. She graduated from Boston University in 2022 with a B.A. in Neuroscience and minors in Chemistry and Deaf Studies. Her research background includes studying language acquisition in deaf children through the LAVA lab, and she is excited to expand her research interests into motor speech disorders through the Stepp lab. In her free time, Sarah enjoys singing, playing piano, and baking chocolate chip cookies. 
Megan Cushman (she/her) is the research coordinator and lab manager for the STEPP Lab. She was previously a research fellow for the lab, and graduated from Boston University in 2020 with a B.S. 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).
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.
Saul Frankford, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in the STEPP Lab. He received a PhD in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Boston University, and recently completed a postdoctoral research appointment at Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary/Harvard Medical School. Prior to his PhD, he completed a BA in Music and Human Communication Sciences at Northwestern University. Saul is interested in investigating sensorimotor timing control in speech and voice disorders.
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.
Zoe Perkins is a research assistant in the STEPP Lab. She graduated from Boston University in 2021 with a B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a minor in Public Health. Zoe enjoys working in a research setting and is interested in the intersection of life sciences, research, and business management. In her free she time enjoys biking, running, playing Minecraft, and solving the NYT Crossword.

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.
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 speech motor control in patients with Laryngeal Dystonia and Parkinson’s disease. In 2022, Daria was awarded a Rafik B. Hariri Graduate Student Fellowship for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering to further her data-driven research.
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

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.
Michael Madoule is a master’s student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Boston University. He graduated with a B.A. in Biology and Linguistics from Boston College in 2022. He is primarily interested in voice and swallowing disorders and their respective treatments. Michael enjoys playing music, learning about different languages, and playing Spikeball.
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.
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.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Courtney Dunsmuir is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Behavior and Health and is on the pre-medical pathway. She is a certified EMT and is excited to get research experience while gaining skills in data analysis and working in a clinical setting. In her free time, Courtney enjoys baking, bird-watching, and exploring Boston with friends.

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.
Jaii Pappu is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Neuroscience on the pre-medical path. He is eager to learn more about the practical applications of neuroscience, gain skills in a clinical setting, and is passionate about bridging inequities in the medical field. In his free time, he enjoys working out at FitRec, biking along the Charles River, and exploring new coffee shops in the city!
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.
Kalei Volk is a certified EMT and an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Human Physiology with a minor in Public Health. She is hoping to get experience in clinical and research settings as well as explore voice disorders. In her free time, Kalei enjoys reading and exploring Boston with her friends.
Alyssa Williams is an undergraduate at Boston University in the dual degree program majoring in Psychology and Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. She is excited to learn more in the field of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences through research experience in the lab and is interested in learning more about the implications of treatments for cognitive and developmental disorders on speech production. In her free time, she enjoys barre and yoga classes, traveling, and exploring the city.
Callum Wilson is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Human Physiology. He is a certified EMT and is very excited in beginning research and exploring speech, language and hearing sciences. Outside of school Callum is an avid hiker and rock climber and enjoys playing chess.

Clinical Recruitment Assistants

Aliza Bergman is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Health Science with a minor in Psychology. She is interested in gaining hands-on experience in a clinical and research setting and learning more about speech disorders. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading, and exploring Boston.
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.
Ji Eun Kwak is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. As a pre-medical student, she loves to research and volunteer in clinical settings. In her free time, she loves to volunteer, see musicals, go to museums and concerts, try different foods with her friends, or cook.
Namita Rajasubramanian is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Neuroscience on the pre-medical pathway. She is keen to gain clinical exposure received through patient interactions and simultaneously engage in research. In her free time, she enjoys travelling, watching true crime documentaries and spending time with her friends.

 

Lab Alumni

Click here to view our alumni