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Arnold School of Public Health

Our People

Current Lab Members

KRYSTAL WERFEL posing with Cocky, the university's mascot


Krystal L. Werfel, PhD, CCC-SLP is an assistant professor and director of the Written Language Lab at USC. Dr. Werfel studies how spoken language influences written language and applies this knowledge to develop valid and effective assessments and intervention. Most of her work focuses on children with hearing loss and children with specific language impairment. Dr. Werfel has a BS in Early Childhood Development from the University of Tennessee, and an MS in Speech-Language Pathology and a PhD in Hearing and Speech Sciences from Vanderbilt University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in audiology at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center. Her work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation (ASHFoundation), the International Reading Association (IRA), and the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR). Krystal's CV



Gabriella Reynolds is a doctoral student in Communication Sciences and Disorders Department. She worked as a speech-language pathologist for several years after graduating from Gallaudet University with her Master's. She received her Bachelor's from Georgetown University with a major in Linguistics. Gabriella manages the lab volunteers and oversees progress on projects in addition to reviewing language transcriptions and analyzing data. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with her husband, who is also an SLP.


CARSON AHO Graduate Research Assistant

Carson Aho is a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in Speech Language Pathology. Carson has undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Communication Disorders from the University of South Florida. She is on the Auditory-Verbal Therapy tract within the master's program. She currently works on the Early Language and Literacy Acquisition in Children with Hearing Loss (ELLA) with administering and scoring assessments. In her free time, she enjoys taking her dog on walks, going to the beach, reading a good book, and running.

Sydney Bassard

SYDNEY BASSARD Graduate Research Assistant

Sydney Bassard is a graduate student in the Master of Speech Pathology program with a special interest in Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT) here at USC. In 2017, she graduated from USC with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health. Sydney primarily works on the Literacy Acquisition in Children with and without Minimal Hearing Loss (MINI) study, which investigates the prevalence rate of minimal hearing loss in children with reading impairment. Additionally, she enjoys data collection, data analyze, and writing papers for the lab. During her free time, Sydney appreciates marching band competitions, spending time with her family, and binge watching Netflix.

Marissa Castaldo

MARISSA CASTALDO Graduate Research Assistant

Marissa Castaldo is a graduate student in the Master of Speech Pathology program. She has a BA in Public Health with minors in Psychology and Business Administration from USC. Marissa has been working with Dr. Werfel to analyze language samples and evaluate language in children with hearing loss and children with normal hearing. She also assists in scoring and organizing data. In her free time she enjoys spending time with friends and family, baking and going to the beach. 

Logan Douglass

LOGAN DOUGLASS Graduate Research Assistant

Logan Douglass is a graduate student in the Master of Speech Pathology program. She has an undergraduate degree in Public Relations with a minor in Communication Sciences and Disorders  from USC. Before starting her master's program, Logan worked full-time in the lab as project manager of the ELLA study.  In her free time she researches how to get hired by the CIA. 

Courtney Squires

COURTNEY SQUIRES Graduate Research Assistant

Courtney Squires is a student in the Master of Speech Pathology program here at USC. She graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2017 with a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience. Courtney works primarily on the (PH)IL2 study, which investigates the effect of listening fatigue on academic performance in school-aged children with hearing loss. She also enjoys scoring tests and writing papers for the lab. In her free time, she can be found re-reading Harry Potter on the beach or spending time with friends and family at the river.

Breanna Todd

BREANNA TODD, LMSW Language Sampler Extraordinaire 

Breanna Todd is a social worker at Three Rivers Behavioral Health in West Columbia, SC. She graduated from Michigan State University with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and from the University of South Carolina with a master's degree in Social Work. In her free time, she enjoys coding language samples, hiking in the mountains, swimming at the beach, and reading.

Sarah Hudgins

SARAH HUDGINS  Undergraduate Research Assistant

Sarah Hudgins is an undergraduate student at Clemson University seeking a degree in Psychology with a minor in Life Science. Sarah primarily works on scoring data from the Early Language and Literacy Acquisition in Children with Hearing Loss (ELLA) project as well as coding language samples. In the future, she plans to peruse her master's in Speech-Language Pathology. In her free time, she likes to go hiking, make puns, and play with her dog.


Former Lab Members

Alison Eisel Hendricks


Alison Eisel Hendricks was a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab. She has a PhD  in Language Science and Germanic Linguistics from Pennsylvania State University and earned her BA in philosophy from Occidental College in Los Angeles.  Dr. Eisel Hendricks is now an Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo.