Research Labs

Image of 10 adults smiling

Our faculty members work closely with undergraduate and graduate level students on a wide variety of research topics related to human communication and its disorders. Through a range of research experiences, our students have a unique opportunity to explore the boundaries of what is currently known on how we hear, perceive, produce and understand speech and language. Our students investigate innovative ways to assess and treat individuals with communication disorders in a dynamic and collaborative setting. Many students become co-authors on peer-reviewed publications. See publications with student co-authors.

Below is a description of our labs, personnel, and some current or previous research activities.

Director: Barbara Cone, PhD, CCC-A


Jennifer Casteix

Key Collaborators: David Velenovsky, PhD, CCC-A, Aneta Kielar, PhD, Arve Asbjornsen, PhD (University of Bergen, Norway)

Location: Room 315C

The AHEAD Lab is now the home of the Tinnitus Project, a collaboration between Aneta Kielar, David Velenovsky and Barbara Cone.  The Tinnitus Project is a clinical research project investigating neuromodulation and active listening treatments as a therapy for reducing the perception of tinnitus. For more information about this research, contact Barbara Cone at

Work in the AHEAD lab is focused on the electrophysiology of infant speech perception. How do infants develop the capacity to hear and understand speech? What are infants’ speech feature detection and discrimination abilities? How can we assay those abilities using psychophysical (behavioral) and electrophysiologic methods? Our efforts are focused on auditory development in early infancy because this is the period during which the early detection and intervention for hearing loss can have enormous benefit. It is important to study normal auditory system development so that we can translate our research findings into insights and methods that will allow us to successfully treat the infant with hearing loss.

Director: Nicole Marrone, PhD, CCC-A

Key Personnel: Aileen Wong, AuD, CCC-A

Student Researchers: Bryan Wong 

Location: Rooms 403, 109 (soundfield), and 207

In the Audiologic Rehabilitation Lab, our research seeks to improve quality of life and quality of care for adults living with hearing loss, with an emphasis on health equity. We take an ecological and biopsychosocial approach to the study of communication. We are interested in the links between auditory and cognitive abilities that affect communication when using hearing aids, outcomes of rehabilitative interventions, and how changes in hearing impact daily life for individuals and their families. Our research group includes undergraduates, graduate students, and clinical faculty collaborators from the University of Arizona Hearing Clinics. Our NIH-funded research seeks to reduce disparities in access to hearing health care in collaboration with faculty and community members in public health, psychology, Spanish, and translation studies (“Oyendo Bien” or Hearing Well). Our lab members also lead several community-engaged outreach projects including: UA Living Well with Hearing Loss program, The Protect Your Ears Project (an afterschool hearing conservation program), Viviendo Bien con Pérdida Auditiva (Spanish-language peer support), and the Living Well with Hearing Loss community lecture series.

Director: Huanping Dai, PhD

Location: Room 308

Research in this lab is concerned with auditory perception of complex sounds by human listeners. On the empirical side, we design and carry out behavioral (psychophysical) experiments to study listeners’ ability to extract useful information from various sounds, and how this ability is affected by hearing disorders. On the theoretical side, we construct computational models to characterize the listeners’ individual listening behavior, and to predict their performance in perceptual tasks. While the primary focus of our research is on the basic-science aspects of auditory perception, we also work on applied issues related to hearing, including the application of statistical and psychophysical principles and methods to the diagnoses of hearing disorders, and the signal processing for amplification.

Director: David Velenovsky, PhD, CCC-A

Location: SLHS Rooms 226 and 230

Key Personnel: Linda Norrix, PhD, CCC-SLP

Student Researchers: Graduate students Austin Deffner, Emily Walker, and Samantha Zambrano; Undergraduates Raquel Alvarado, Jillian Fisher, and Ann Ross

Members of the “Reflectance Lab” have diverse research interests including studies exploring pupilometry as a measure of cognitive load, auditory information processing, the effects of high noise levels on hearing as well as acoustic reflex measures using wideband power reflectance and transmittance. Beyond the goal of pursuing research that contributes to a better understanding of human auditory function, we also strive to increase interest in hearing and hearing science among undergraduate and graduate students.

Director: Genesis Arizmendi, PhD, CCC-SLP

Location: SLHS Room 310

Lab Website: BABEL Lab

Work in the BABEL Lab aims to mitigate disparities and advance equity within the educational and healthcare systems. Dr. Arizmendi examines the intersection of cognition, language, and academic achievement in bilingual children with diverse learning profiles, spanning typical development, developmental language disorder, and difficulties with mathematics and reading. To better understand these relationships, research in the lab further explores the influence of policy and social context on educational outcomes.

Woman pointing toward a research activity with man smiling

Director: Leah Kapa, PhD

Student Researchers: Abby Williams, Diego Melendez, Allison Staib, Sierra Teso, Maddie Conway, and Kate Alpert

Location: Room 334

The Language and Cognition Lab focuses on the interaction between language and cognitive abilities, with a specific focus on executive functioning (e.g., memory, attention, planning), in individuals with typical and disordered language development. We address questions about the effects of self-directed language on executive function performance, the potential contribution of executive function skills to the process of language learning, and the effectiveness of executive function intervention programs for improving cognitive and/or language abilities in children.

Director: Mary Alt, PhD, CCC-SLP

Key Personnel: Cecilia Figueroa, MS, CCC-SLP (Project Director); Nora Evans-Reitz, MS, CCC-SLP (Project Director)

Post-Docs: Heidi Mettler, PhD, CCC-SLP and Alyssa Sachs, PhD, CCC-SLP

Location: Rooms 322/324

Links: L4 Lab website

The L4 Lab’s research is centered on answering this question: How do people learn words and the concepts associated with those words? The answers to this question are fundamental to our understanding of language development and disorders of language and learning. We examine the cognitive underpinnings of language learning (e.g., working memory), investigate how we can apply principles of statistical learning to word learning treatments, and explore learning in different populations including bilingual learners, late talkers,  children with developmental language disorder, and dyslexia. We are interested in extending findings from our lab into clinically-driven research and in partnering with the community to engage in implementation science.

Director: Aneta Kielar, PhD

Location: Room 332

Collaborators: Pelagie Beeson, Kindle Rising, Steven Rapcsak

Student Researchers: Fatima Jebahi, Noah Frazier, Emily Abraham

The Language and Neuroimaging Research Lab explores neural correlates of language processing. We use a combination of structural and functional neuroimaging techniques to understand how neural dynamics are impacted by stroke, neurodegenerative disorders and aging. We are interested in recovery of function, and treatment approaches involving speech-language therapy in combination with noninvasive brain stimulation techniques, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).

Director: Nell Maltman, PhD

Location: Room 506

Lab Website:

The Lifespan Language Lab is dedicated to understanding the links between language, genetics, and cognition across the lifespan among families affected by fragile X-associated conditions and autism spectrum disorder. We are particularly interested in the FMR1 gene, executive functioning, aging, caregiving, and stress as key factors that contribute to language use. By investigating these links, we hope to inform practices that help maximize the quality of life for those affected by such conditions. 


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Director: Meghan Darling-White, PhD, CCC-SLP

Location: Rooms 301 and 530

Lab website:

The long-term goal of the Motor Speech Research lab is to develop and validate evidence-based interventions that improve speech production skills in people with motor speech disorders. To address this goal, our lab uses a combination of kinematic, aerodynamic, acoustic and perceptual analyses to examine how physiologic changes to the speech subsystems (e.g., respiratory, phonatory, articulatory) impact speech intelligibility and naturalness. Our current work focuses on respiratory function during speech production in children with cerebral palsy.

Director: Elena Plante, PhD, CCC-SLP

Key Personnel: Rebecca Vance, MS, CCC-SLP 

Location: Room 334

Current work in Dr. Plante’s lab focuses on learning and assessment. The lab is focused on children and adults with developmental language disorder.  Behavioral studies are designed to determine what conditions facilitate rapid learning and whether those with language impairment benefit from the same factors that facilitate learning for non-impaired individuals. Findings from these studies are then incorporated into treatment studies (summers) designed to make language treatment faster and more effective.  The lab is also involved in the process of developing new methods to assess language and literacy skills intended for clinical use.

Directors: Brad Story, PhD, and Kate Bunton, PhD, CCC-SLP

Location: Room 307

Links: Speech Acoustics and Physiology Lab website

Research in the Speech Acoustics Laboratory is focused on the following areas: speech acoustics and articulation (kinematics) related to speech production, measures of velopharyngeal function, speech simulation, and volumetric imaging of the vocal tract. Computerized models are used in our laboratory in conjunction with perceptual experiments to aid in understanding how the physical shapes and sizes of both the voice source components and the vocal tract contribute to the sound of the human voice and perception of speech.

Director: Megan Kobel, AuD, PhD

Location: SLHS 519

Research in the Vestibular Research Lab explores novel methods to characterize vestibular function. The long-term goal of this work is to improve diagnosis and management of those experiencing vertigo, dizziness, and imbalance. We use a combination of tools including vestibular perceptual assessments, balance and gait evaluations, eye-tracking, and evoked potentials. 

Director: Robin Samlan, PhD, CCC-SLP

Other Personnel: Dori Smith, DMA, MS, CCC-SLP; Natalie Monahan, MS, CCC-SLP

Location: Room 301

Our long-term goal in the Voice Lab is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of breathy voice disorders, particularly the breathy/weak voices associated with age-related dysphonia, vocal fold paralysis, and Parkinson disease. We use tools such as laryngeal high-speed video of vocal fold vibration, acoustic and aerodynamic studies, computational modeling, and listening studies in our work.

Director: Julie E. Miller, PhD

Location: Gould Simpson, Room 423

Key Personnel: Brian Dominguez (research technician), Reed Bjork (neuroscience PhD student), Sydrah Damir (NSCS major), Michelle Gordon (MCB major)

Lab Website:

Work in the WINGSS laboratory focuses on the identification and characterization of molecular and cellular pathways in the brain that support speech mechanisms particularly the impact of normative aging and Parkinson's disease. We carry out these investigations in the zebra finch songbird model which shares a number of similarities to human vocal learning and production. Methods include a combination of behavioral, molecular, biochemical, electrophysiological and bioinformatic approaches that enable us to link changes at the molecular/cellular levels to alterations in neural circuits for song behavior.