Current Lab Members

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Lab Leadership

Cara Stepp (she/her), Ph.D., directs the STEPP LAB for Sensorimotor Rehabilitation Engineering and is a 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. She completed postdoctoral training in Computer Science & Engineering and Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington. She enjoys family time with her husband Boudu, daughter MJ, and dog Cruz.

Jenny Vojtech, (she/her), MS, Ph.D., is a research assistant professor in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and serves as the Associate Director of the Stepp Lab. Jenny holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University, where she studied computational methods to improve clinical voice assessments in the Stepp Lab. She returned to Boston University after working as a Senior Research Scientist at Delsys, Inc., where she focused on creating strategies and technologies for applications in assistive technology for communication and clinical evaluations of speech and voice.

Associated Faculty

A man with white hair, a white beard, and a blue shirt is smiling in front of a black backgroundJoseph 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 backgroundDaniel 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

A man with brown hair, a brown beard, glasses, and a gray shirt is smiling in front of a brown backgroundManuel Díaz Cádiz (he/him) is a research fellow for the STEPP Lab. 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). He is interested in developing analysis tools and interfaces for speech related research, that involves acquisition, visualization, and analysis within the voice investigation area. He enjoys playing soccer, listening to science & space-related podcasts… and making homemade empanadas once in a while.

Alex Estrada (they/them) is a research fellow for the STEPP Lab. They graduated from Emerson College in 2022 with a BS in Communication Sciences & Disorders and a minor in Creative Writing. They’re excited to begin their research career at the Stepp Lab. Alex’s research interests include acoustics, speech breathing, comparative laryngeal anatomy, and listener perceptions of voice. They are also interested in ways to boost clinician competence in areas of AAC, dual sensory loss and gender affirming care. In their free time, Alex enjoys solving puzzles, learning about other scientific disciplines, listening to baseball games, and making all kinds of art.

Taylor Feaster (she/her) 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.

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. Zoe is currently studying part-time for her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering at BU. In her free she time enjoys running, playing tennis, and solving the NYT Crossword.

Jose Manuel Rojas is a research fellow for the STEPP Lab. He attained his B.S. in Electronic Engineering from the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María in 2022. He has experience in the acquisition and analysis of data from populations with various health conditions, but also in the development of neurocomputational models to study sensorimotor control. His research focuses on the correlation between speech perception and sensorimotor disorders affecting the voice. During his leisure time, he enjoys activities like tennis, padel, running, and watching series.

Kaitlyn Siedman (she/her) is a research fellow for the STEPP Lab. She graduated from Trinity College in May 2023 with a B.S. in Psychology and a self-designed minor in Linguistics. As a member of Trinity’s Psycholinguistics Lab, she previously researched how the presence of mirrors affects the intelligibility of speech and learned about the impact of different sensory modality alterations on speech perception and production. In her free time, Kaitlyn can be found crocheting, reading, or watching American Ninja Warrior.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Saul Frankford (he/him), 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 perception of vocal gender across clinical populations.

Katherine Marks (she/her), 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

Allison Aaron (she/her), 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 vocal motor learning, voice and gender, and vocal hyperfunction.

Veronica Caruso is a rotating Biomedical Engineering PhD student and Quantitative Biology and Physiology (QBP) Fellow. She received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, supplemented by a concentration in Biomechanics and minors in Mathematics and Physics, as well as her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, both from Manhattan College. Her research interests include developing and utilizing computational models of biological systems in tandem with data science to extract information and make predictions involving such systems. She enjoys skiing, yoga, soccer, traveling, and trying new things.

Kimberly Dahl (she/her) 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 vocal motor control, voice perception, and gender-affirming voice care.

Daria Dragicevic (she/her) 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. Daria is interested in understanding longitudinal speech changes in people with 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. In her free time, Daria enjoys going to local spin classes, open-water swimming, and trying new cuisines.

Turley Duque (she/her) is a Ph.D. student in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Boston University. Turley is a McNair Scholar and received her B.A. in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of San Diego, where she studied temporal and spatial memory in ADHD model rats. She is interested in researching the neural processes when verbal communication is disturbed. In her free time, she loves to travel this world and others through the pages of books.

Mara Kapsner-Smith (she/her) 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.

Daphne Toglia Lulo is a Ph.D. student in Neuroscience at Boston University completing a rotation in the Stepp Lab. She graduated with a B.A. in Neurobiology from the New College of Florida in 2019. She wrote her undergraduate thesis on somatic mosaicism of a PDGFRB activating variant in aneurysms and continued working on this project for two years after graduating. Daphne is primarily interested in translation research with a focus on neurodegenerative diseases. Outside of the lab, Daphne likes to spend her time running, bouldering, reading, and mentoring undergraduate students.

Nicole Tomassi (she/her) 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 practicing yoga, rock climbing, and traveling.

Hasini Weerathunge (she/her) 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

Carly Benson (she/her) is a master’s student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Boston University. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a minor in Disability Rights and Services. She is primarily interested in vocal health, gender-affirming voice care, and motor speech disorders. In her free time, Carly enjoys reading, traveling, yoga, and playing the piano.

Miracle Cariaga (she/her) is a first-year graduate student, studying for her M.S. in Speech Language Pathology. She is from California so moving to Boston has been a big life change! She is looking forward to experiencing the most out of her time here at the STEPP Lab and taking part in research that may influence how she will become as a future clinician. Apart from school, she loves going to the gym, taking long walks, listening to music, and going to the beach.

Marlene Chávez Corona (she/they) is a master’s student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Boston University. They graduated from San Diego State University with a B.A. in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Counseling and Social Change. She is fascinated by multilingualism and its intersections with neurologic and progressive communication disorders. Outside of academia, Marlene enjoys lounging in sunny patches of grass, learning languages, and perfecting their favorite recipes.

Claire Howerton (she/her) is a master’s student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Boston University. She graduated with her B.A. from Western Washington University in Communication Sciences & Disorders and English Literature with minors in Interdisciplinary Studies and Psychology. She is interested in gender-affirming voice care, vocal health, and voice perception. Claire also enjoys crafting, exploring Boston, and reading.

Jordan Kimmel (they/he) is a master’s student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Boston University. They graduated from Saint Michael’s College in 2022 with a B.S. in Neuroscience and minors in Gender Studies and Chemistry. They are primarily interested in gender-affirming voice care, voice perception, and pediatric speech therapy. In their free time, Jordan likes to spend time outside, bake (and find the best bakeshops for!) allergy-friendly desserts, dye their hair, and watch hockey, specifically the Bruins.

Michael Madoule (he/him) 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 the diagnosis and treatment of voice and swallowing disorders. Michael has a special interest in the head and neck cancer population, specifically regarding TEP management and alaryngeal speech options post-laryngectomy. In his free time, he enjoys biking around Boston, learning about different languages, and reading.

Shayna Plotnik (she/her) is masters student in the MS-SLP program at Boston University. Prior to attending BU, she completed a MM in Musical Theater Voice and Voice Pedagogy at NYU Steinhardt and a BSOF in Vocal Performance and Jewish Sacred Music at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. She loves to perform and sing, as well as has a passion for teaching others to love the art form as well. Her interests in the speech world include gender affirming voice care and pediatric speech and swallowing. In her free time she loves to bake and hang out with her beagle mix Poppy!

Eva Yeh is a Master’s student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Boston University. She attended the University of Michigan and graduated with her Bachelor’s in Linguistics and Cognitive Science. She is passionate about multilingual education, disability justice, and utilizing interdisciplinary research to achieve a higher level of medical care. Her areas of research interest include speech sounds and acoustics, bilingual/multilingual intervention strategies, and speech perception. In her free time, she enjoys taking care of her plants, trying new recipes, and going outside!

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Madeline Cole-Short is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying neuroscience and minoring in computer engineering. She hopes to pursue a career in neural engineering in the future. Outside of school, she works as an EMT and enjoys visiting museums, cooking, and exploring Boston.

Courtney Dunsmuir (she/her) 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.

Elana Felig (she/her) is an undergraduate student studying health science and minoring in speech, language, and hearing sciences. She is excited to get involved in research and clinical experiences, and is looking forward to expanding her knowledge on speech pathology and research in general. She hopes to pursue a career in speech pathology in the future. In her free time, she enjoys going to spin classes and exploring different places around Boston!

Misora Ito (she/her) is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Health Sciences. She is excited to obtain a unique experience in clinical research as she aspires to join the medical field. At her home town, Misora serves as a volunteer EMT. She loves painting and listening to music.

Samantha Lonergan (she/her) is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Health Science with a minor in Biology on the pre-Physician’s Assistant track. She is excited to learn more about speech and language disorders through in clinic experience and community engagement. In her free time, Samantha enjoys performing in musicals, spending time with her family and friends, and traveling.

Duoduo Luo (she/her) is an undergraduate student at Boston University majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience. She is particularly interested in the fields of psychopathology and cognitive brain science, hoping to gain experiences and skills in both clinical and research setting. In her free time, Duoduo is an independent photographer and a music enthusiast.

Sofia Marzullo (she/her) is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Biology and minoring in Sociology on a pre-dental path. She is passionate about health related research and is looking forward to gaining clinical experience and learning more about engineering technology involved in data analysis. She is very excited to work at the STEPP Lab and gain new insight on speech disorders. In her free time, Sofia enjoys walking dogs, playing guitar, and going for runs along the Esplanade.

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.

Fizaan Muhammad (He/Him) is an undergraduate student studying Biology on the pre-medical track at Boston University. He is interested in learning about possible treatments of neurodegenerative diseases, speech disorders and impairments in communication. In his free time he enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, and nature.

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.

Sanya Saurabh (she/her) is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Biomedical Engineering, concentrating in Nanotechnology and Technology Innovation. She is a published author and an avid reader. She is interested in learning about clinical research and computational biology. In her free time, Sanya enjoys singing, watching shows, or drinking Starbucks!

Giavanna Siracusano is an undergraduate student studying Neuroscience on the pre-medical track at Boston University. She is interested in studying neurodegenerative disorders, evaluating the practical applications of neuroscience, and gaining experience in a clinical and research setting. In her freetime, Giavanna enjoys hiking, running throughout Boston, and exploring the city.

Andrew Wrede (he/him) is an undergraduate at Boston University studying biology with a minor in public health. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running, and volunteering as an EMT.

Jodi Yu (she/her/hers) is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Mathematics. She is eager to study speech disorders, gender affirming voice healthcare, and data modeling in a clinical environment. In her free time, Jodi enjoys dancing, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

 

Clinical Recruitment Assistants

Elise Gelblicht (she/her) is an undergraduate student at Boston University studying Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. She’s excited to become an SLP one day and hopes to work in the hospital setting. In her free time you’ll see her at FitRec working out or reading in the commons.

Keerthi Maddukuri is a masters student at the BU School of Public Health pursuing a functional certificate in Epidemiology & Biostatistics and context certification in Chronic and Non-communicable diseases. She graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in Psychology on a Pre-Medicine track. She is interested in the correlation between the impairment of voice and language disorders and underprivileged communities that do not have access to minimum healthcare. During her free time, she likes to play badminton, spend time with friends and explore the city.

Meghna Sriram (she/her) is an undergraduate student studying Neurobiology and Psychology on the pre-PhD track at Boston University. She is interested in studying fetal genetics and disorders and hopes to pursue a career in clinical research. Apart from school, Meghna is the captain of BU’s Indian classical dance team, performs acapella and loves to read and go thrifting!

Lab Alumni

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