The Department of Communicative Disorders is proud of the research and outreach efforts of its faculty. Below you will find descriptions of faculty members’ unique contributions to scholarship as well as service to the community through clinical activities.
Dr. Mikyong Kim’s Research and Service
- Research: Dr. Kim’s research focuses on investigating the efficacy of treatment for acquired alexia in individuals with aphasia. She has published papers on the efficacy of treatment programs involving the training of grapheme-phoneme correspondence rules as well as multiple oral re-reading methods. Currently, she is interested in investigating treatment methods which directly address the paragraph level comprehension deficits of individuals with acquired alexia. Her research interest also involves investigating the treatment efficacy of verb retrieval treatment and narrative characteristics of individuals with aphasia in social group contexts. Her work has been funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and other sources.
- Service: Dr. Kim is currently the director of the URI Aphasia Reading Group, an outreach program that aims to promote the return to pleasure reading as well as to provide social engagement for individuals with aphasia. The weekly group session are facilitated by graduate students who are interested in the clinical as well as research aspect of the experience. This program has been positively contributing to the reading habits and quality of life of the participants with aphasia since its start in January 2006.
Dr. Dana Kovarsky’s Research and Service
- Research: As an ethnographer of communication disorders, Dr. Kovarsky’s research has focused primarily on the analysis of clinical discourse in a variety of contexts. Over the years, his work has been funded by the United States Department of Education and other sources. His first co-edited book, Constructing (In)competence: Disabling Evaluations in Clinical and Social Interaction, appeared in 1999, and his second, Diagnosis as Cultural Practice, was published in 2005. He has published numerous articles, served as a guest editor for topical issues of selected journals, and presented his work in national and international venues.
- Service: Dr. Kovarsky is a member of the Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment. He is also the Chair and Co-founder of the Society for the Analysis of Clinical Discourse. This is an international group of scholars who meet to discuss their ongoing research into the nature of clinical discourse and clinical practice.
Dr. Leslie Mahler’s Research and Service
- Research: Dr. Mahler focuses her research on investigating how principles of neuroplasticity can be applied to individuals with motor speech disorders secondary to neurological deficits such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease (PD), Down Syndrome, and head injury. Specifically, she investigates how specific behavioral interventions affect communication behaviors and how people with Parkinson’s disease who receive deep brain stimulation compare with those who do not. Her interests also involve establishing the validity and reliability of qualitative measures used to assess changes after behavioral speech intervention including acoustic correlates of listener perceptual ratings.
- Service: Dr. Mahler’s involvement in the University of Rhode Island Speech and Hearing Clinic is the supervision of graduate students in the evaluation and treatment of adults with neurological and voice disorders. Students are supervised in the administration of LSVT LOUD®, a treatment based on Level I efficacy data for people with PD. Students are also involved in the LOUD Crowd, a group treatment for people with PD who want to be better understood in functional communication. LOUD Crowd meets twice a week for one hour plus another session each week that is speech therapy and physical therapy combined. She is also responsible for the Gateway Cafe and Wellness Center, an interdisciplinary group treatment for adults with acquired brain injury. This group meets once a week for three hours.
Dr. Amy L. Weiss’ Research and Service
- Research: Dr. Weiss was trained in the development of children’s language as well as the nature and treatment of children’s language disorders. Her research reflects her interest in the pragmatic component of language learning, or how children whether they are diagnosed with Specific Language Impairment, or have hearing losses, or also stutter, use the language that they have in their repertoire. The recipient of an NIH grant to study the conversation factors that promote fluency or exacerbate stuttering in young children who stutter, Dr. Weiss continues to be interested in how language and stuttering interface. Many of the M.S. students who complete directed essay projects with Dr. Weiss focus on this area of interest or analyze data collected through the Communication Coaching Program (CCP), a program developed with her colleague Pamela Rohland, Director of Disability Services for Students at URI to provide comprehensive support services for URI students with diagnoses on the autism spectrum. The CCP involves both graduate and undergraduate students as communication coaches and peer coach respectively, in the provision of intervention to facilitate these students’ development of appropriate social communication skills and executive functioning skills to enhance academic success. She is currently working with colleagues on a national level involved in similar programs in several scholarly endeavors to determine effectiveness of these programs to successfully support college students on the autism spectrum during their university careers.
- Service: In terms of her clinical service to the department, Dr. Weiss is collaborating with her colleagues at the Disability Services for Students office to further develop a multidisciplinary plan for recruiting and retaining college students with diagnoses on the autism spectrum and other non-verbal learning disorders (The CCP). As part of her ongoing contribution to the CCP she supervises two graduate students per semester who serve as communication coaches. Beyond the department, Dr. Weiss currently serves as the chairperson of ASHA’s Continuing Education Board (2014-2016), and is a perennial ASHA convention topic coordinator. She is a former chair of the Board of Division Coordinators, and coordinator of what is now Special Interest Group 1: Language, Learning and Education. She is also a former Associate Editor of Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools.