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Arnold School of Public Health

New COMD assistant professor Abigail Hogan focuses on anxiety, autism and how they impact communication

March 3, 2022 | Erin Bluvas,

Abigail Hogan may be new to the Arnold School, but she’s not new to UofSC. The communication sciences and disorders (COMD) assistant professor has been a member of the psychology department ever since she completed a Ph.D. in COMD from Northwestern University in 2016. More than five years into her tenure at Carolina, Hogan is a key member of a growing group of UofSC researchers committed to understanding neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., autism spectrum disorder).

Hogan first became interested in working with autistic children and their families while studying psychology at West Virginia University. As a counselor at a summer reading enrichment camp, she worked closely with a child who had an autism diagnosis.

“He was such an amazing kid -- bright and funny and kind-hearted and clearly possessing many strengths and talents – yet he struggled in certain areas, particularly with communication, and I could tell those difficulties impacted his life in meaningful ways,” Hogan says. “I had always been interested in research and child development but working with him convinced me that I wanted to focus my career on understanding communication in autism specifically.”

My ultimate goal is to gain a better understanding of how, when, and why anxiety develops in young autistic children, and how that anxiety impacts broader abilities like communication.

-Abigail Hogan, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders

After her 2005 graduation, Hogan spent the next five years gaining clinical/research experience – first as an early intervention coordinator with a behavioral services organization in Florida and then as a research study coordinator at Vanderbilt University. Returning to school to officially join the COMD field, Hogan completed back-to-back master’s and doctoral degrees at Northwestern University.

“Over time, as I worked with more autistic children and their families, I heard time and time again that anxiety symptoms were a significant concern for children and their families, so I started to become more interested in how anxiety impacts communication in autism,” Hogan says. “My ultimate goal is to gain a better understanding of how, when and why anxiety develops in young autistic children, and how that anxiety impacts broader abilities like communication. I hope that my work will help inform the development of future treatments that address anxiety symptoms and communication skills more holistically as opposed to treating one or the other.”

By the time she arrived at UofSC, Hogan had amassed specialized training related to autism diagnostics, preschool age language acquisition and other areas. She also had extensive service and research experience in the intersecting fields of COMD and autism spectrum disorder.

Hogan was immediately able to contribute to the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Lab – first as a postdoctoral fellow and then as the lab’s associate director as well as a research assistant professor in the psychology department. During this time, she collaborated with Arnold School faculty and taught courses for the COMD department.

“I was really impressed by how supportive the Arnold School is of their faculty, particularly their early career faculty,” Hogan says of her decision to officially join the department last fall. “I was also attracted to the value placed on interdisciplinary research, which is a core feature of my research. As a communication scientist, I am especially looking forward to being immersed in an environment with fellow communication scientists.”

“Dr. Abby Hogan has been a fantastic addition to COMD, which is known for its collegiality, and Abby adds a lot to our department’s sense of positivity,” says Jean Neils-Strunjas, chair of the department. “She joined us with a focused research agenda on autism that is both important and collaborative.”

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