November 5, 2019 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynsey Keator, a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, has been chosen as the beneficiary of the 2019-2020 Elaine M. Frank Endowed Fellowship Fund. The fund was established by the family of Elaine M. Frank, who joined the COMD department in 1991 and served as chair for more than a decade. The Fellowship program provides financial support for a COMD doctoral student who demonstrates outstanding leadership and scholarship consistent with the legacy set forth by Frank [learn about the other COMD doctoral students [PDF]].
Originally from Massachusetts, Keator’s interest in the field was sparked when her younger brother was diagnosed with a severe phonological disorder. He began receiving speech-language pathology and audiology services when he was 18 months old, and the resulting progress made a life-long impression on his big sister.
“As a young child, I witnessed Ryan’s transformation from an unintelligible toddler to a successful and articulate young man after his work with a speech-language pathologist,” Keator says. “I investigated the field further as an undergraduate student and was quickly fascinated by the integration of many of the majors I had considered, such as health sciences and language, and the ability to work closely with a diverse clinical population.”
Keator graduated from the University of Delaware with two bachelor’s degrees: one in cognitive science with a concentration in speech-language pathology and a second in Spanish studies. In 2016, she graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a master’s in communication disorders (concentration in speech-language pathology), completed her clinical fellowship year, and then worked as a speech-language pathologist in Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Stroke Cognitive Outcomes Laboratory.
In the lab, which is led by Argye Hillis and serves as a primary partner of UofSC’s Center for the Study of Aphasia Recovery (C-STAR), Keator built upon the research experiences she had begun as an undergraduate and continued as a graduate student fellow, leading clinical research related to motor speech disorders and aphasia. In Hillis’ lab, Keator applied the neuroimaging analysis, statistical methods and data collection training she received there.
A year later, she made the transition to C-STAR’s headquarters and enrolled in the COMD department’s doctoral program. Now in her second year, Keator works on projects for C-STAR and the Aphasia Laboratory – both led by COMD professor Julius Fridriksson – where she continues to investigate trends in aphasia recovery through the integration of neuroimaging and behavioral language data.
Outside of her technical research, Keator has spearheaded community outreach events, such as a recurring action-based research project known as “Lunch Bunch.” This monthly event partners with local restaurants to raise aphasia awareness and education within the hospitality industry while improving quality of life for stroke survivors. Based on the pilot data Keator collected for this project, she was invited to join UofSC’s Graduate Civic Scholars program, which provides professional development training, resources and guidance to advance projects like this one.
“Lynsey Keator demonstrates unparalleled potential for future scholarly success through her clinical work and action-based research,” Fridriksson says. “She is highly ambitious, and I have no doubt she will become a leader in the fields of public health and communication sciences and disorders.”