January 5, 2023 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Engineering and communication sciences and disorders (COMD) may appear to be distinct fields with little in common. But for Meisam Arjmandi, COMD’s newest faculty member, the overlap is not only clear but also instrumental to his vocational journey.
After witnessing two family members struggle with spoken communication due to hearing loss and laryngeal cancer, Arjmandi realized that early diagnosis and treatment for these conditions was essential for long-term quality of life. Already a graduate of the bachelor’s in electrical engineering program in his native Iran, he decided to pair his personal interests in COMD with his master’s program research.
Dr. Arjmandi is a valued collaborator and brings a high level of scientific knowledge to research projects that cut across varied clinical populations such as children with cochlear implants and older adults with hearing loss and dementia.
-Jean Neils-Strunjas, COMD chair
As a biomedical engineering student at Shahed University, Arjmandi studied computational analysis of voice and speech for non-invasive diagnosis of pathologic voices. This work built on other research experiences he had during his program, examining automatic speech recognition systems and natural language processing. His interest in how the brain makes sense of speech sounds to develop a complex, yet robust and flexible, language system was the natural extension of these experiences.
“I have always been fascinated by human communication and how we heavily rely on spoken communication to interact and develop as a society,” the assistant professor says. “To me, the ability to develop speech and language is central to all other aspects of human development including cognition, imagination, decision making and problem solving.”
Arjmandi officially entered the COMD field when he enrolled in Michigan State University’s doctoral program. He then completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School’s Neuroscience and Clinical Audiology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear.
As an auditory neuroscientist, Arjmandi’s expertise includes speech, hearing, and language as well as biomedical signal processing and cognitive sciences. His projects, which often involve cochlear implants, use principles and methods from speech perception and production, signal processing, machine learning, computer programming, neuroimaging, and auditory rehabilitation to develop improved diagnostic tools and personalized treatments for individuals with impaired and electric hearing.
“Dr. Arjmandi is a valued collaborator and brings a high level of scientific knowledge to research projects that cut across varied clinical populations such as children with cochlear implants and older adults with hearing loss and dementia,” says Jean Neils-Strunjas, chair of the COMD department.
Arjmandi will work toward his goal of helping those with hearing loss through conducting
research in his Translational Auditory Neuroscience Lab and by teaching and mentoring
students who will become speech-language pathologists and researchers. He chose USC
to begin this journey because of the Arnold School’s reputation and the COMD department’s
resources, such as the Montgomery Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic and cutting-edge research labs.
“I have already identified several faculty members with overlapping interests that will hopefully result in exciting collaborations with impactful research and clinical implications,” Arjmandi says. “I have found the environment of the Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders very supportive and invigorating, and I hope that I can bring my expertise on hearing loss, cognitive sciences and biomedical engineering to enrich the research and clinical care in our department and serve as an excellent mentor and instructor to our students.”