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Arnold School of Public Health


Suzanne Adlof (COMD) named 2019 Breakthrough Star by Office of the Vice President for Research

January 30, 2019 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu

Communication sciences and disorders associate professor Suzanne Adlof has received a 2019 Breakthrough Star Award from UofSC’s Office of the Vice President for Research. Adlof and 13 other faculty members were chosen from a pool of nominations submitted from across the university. Selected by peers based on early career achievements, Breakthrough Stars exceed expectations in their fields, demonstrate exceptional potential and make outstanding contributions to research and scholarship.

“Through the years, we have been so impressed with the high quality of nominations we receive,” says Prakash Nagarkatti, vice president for research. “That makes the job of our awards committee very hard, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Children with specific language impairment comprise seven percent of the population and are six times more likely to struggle with reading than peers with typical development.

-Suzanne Adlof, COMD associate professor

Adlof earned bachelor’s (University of Central Arkansas) and master’s (University of Kansas) degrees in speech-language pathology followed by a Ph.D. (University of Kansas) in speech-language-hearing sciences and disorders. She then completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship with the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research program, which she began when she joined the Arnold School’s COMD department in 2011, aims to improve understanding of language and reading impairment and develop effective interventions to improve literacy outcomes.

“Children with specific language impairment comprise seven percent of the population and are six times more likely to struggle with reading than peers with typical development,” Adlof says. “It is possible to provide language intervention in preschool, but most people with specific language impairment are never diagnosed.”

“It is very difficult to recognize students in the preschool or early grades who will have trouble reading,” agrees research professor Al Montgomery. “Dr. Adlof has attacked the general difficulty in reading that shows up later in grade school and high school from both ends of the age continuum. It is in this area—among others—that Dr. Adlof’s research shines.”

Since arriving at UofSC, Adlof has secured four federally funded grants—three from the National Institutes of Health and the fourth from the U.S. Department of Education—and four privately funded external awards, totaling nearly $9 million ($5.7 million as principal investigator). Through her projects, she has led massive data collection efforts involving thousands of participants in order to answer questions about the underlying characteristics of language and reading impairment and how to improve long-term academic outcomes.

Dr. Adlof has attacked the general difficulty in reading that shows up later in grade school and high school from both ends of the age continuum. It is in this area—among others—that Dr. Adlof’s research shines.

-Al Montgomery, COMD research professor

Her work has been published in top scientific publications in the COMD field. In recognition of her efforts, Adlof has received the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Early Career Contributions in Research and the Rebecca L. Sandak Young Investigator Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading.

Adlof’s South Carolina Research on Language and Literacy (SCROLL) Lab also serves as a training ground for future speech-language pathologists, researchers and scholars. To date, she has mentored more than 55 undergraduate (including nine Magellan Scholars) and graduate students as well as three postdoctoral associates. She also serves as a mentor to an assistant professor in the field through the ASHA Research Mentoring Network Pathways Program.

“Dr. Adlof’s qualifications for the Breakthrough Star award are much more than just the number of publications and her grantsmanship,” says COMD chair Kenn Apel. “What makes her stand out from other nominees is the fact that she already has made an impact nationally in her field and in related fields. She exceeds expectations in our field, demonstrates exceptional potential, and has made outstanding contributions to research and scholarship since arriving at USC in 2011.” 


Related:

Suzanne Adlof launching two NIH R01 grant projects to learn more about children with developmental language disorder and dyslexia

Mohammed Baalousha (ENHS) and Brie Turner-McGrievy (HPEB) named 2018 Breakthrough Stars

A Common Childhood Disability Hidden in Plain Sight

Arnold School’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders grows literacy expertise

Adlof leads development of online tutor to accelerate vocabulary acquisition