February 24, 2021 | Erin Bluvas, email@example.com
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation has awarded a $10,000 scholarship to Lynsey Keator, a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMD). Keator is one of just a dozen or so individuals from across the country to receive a New Century Scholars Doctoral Scholarship, which is designed to support doctoral students committed to a teacher-investigator career in the COMD field.
Currently in her third year of the Ph.D. in COMD program, Keator will used the scholarship to support her dissertation research – a pilot study examining the effects of noninvasive brain stimulation as a supplement to behavioral speech and language therapy for stroke survivors. The project is aligned with the comprehensive approach employed by the Aphasia Laboratory, which combines various treatment, research and outreach activities to improve communication abilities among stroke survivors.
Led by COMD professor Julius Fridriksson, the lab is nationally renown for its work in the areas of cognitive health and, particularly, aphasia – a communication disorder resulting from stroke that impacts an individual’s ability to produce and understand speech. With 180K new cases diagnosed each year, aphasia occurs in nearly 30 percent of strokes. As medical advances increase the survival rates of those who experience stroke, these numbers are expected to grow.
Aphasia has far-reaching, long-term impacts on patients’ ability to access and engage in health care, employment, relationships, and many other social determinants of health and quality of life. As a graduate assistant in the Aphasia Lab, Keator’s research investigates trends in aphasia recovery through the integration of neuroimaging and behavioral language data. She also leads community outreach programs, including an action-based research project (with a monthly lunch event for socialization prior to COVID-19) and a tablet loaner project to help participants stay connected to each other and treatment opportunities during the pandemic.
Keator became interested in speech-language pathology following the successful treatment of her younger brother’s phonological disorder. After graduating from high school in Massachusetts, she earned two bachelor’s degree (cognitive science; Spanish studies) from the University of Delaware and then a master’s degree in communication disorders from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
After her clinical fellowship, Keator worked as a speech-language pathologist in Argye Hillis’s Stroke Cognitive Outcomes Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University. Through Hillis’ partnership with the Center for the Study of Aphasia Recovery, Keator connected with Fridriksson (who leads C-STAR as principal investigator) and enrolled in the Arnold School’s Ph.D. in COMD program. Since that time, Keator has received the Graduate Breakthrough Scholar Award, Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences Fellowship, Elaine M. Frank Endowed Fellowship, and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Fellowship for the Research Symposium in Clinical Aphasiology. She is also a member of UofSC’s Graduate Civic Scholars Program.
The ASHFoundation is a charitable organization that promotes a better quality of life for children and adults with communication disorders. The ASHFoundation is affiliated with ASHA, a membership organization representing audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students.