Department of Speech and Hearing Science
Celebrating the impact of your generosity
On behalf of the Department of Speech and Hearing Science, I would like to express our sincere gratitude for your support of our educational, research and outreach activities.
SHS scholars work tirelessly on research devoted to improving individuals’ well-being and quality of life through enhanced communication. Your donations help us to provide state-of-the-art research labs and other forms of research support to our scholars. Their investigations of speech perception and production in noisy environments, the impact of aging on cognitive-communication abilities, language acquisition in children and how it’s affected by neurodevelopmental disabilities such as Down syndrome and fragile X syndrome and so many other topics are exciting and ground-breaking, and you are an important partner in their discoveries.
Donor support also makes it possible for us to reward exemplary students with scholarships, fellowships and other types of monetary awards. Relieved of some of the financial burden of higher education, our students are able to devote more time to their studies and pursue extracurricular experiences that enhance professional skills.
I cannot overstate how important you are to us. We are humbled by your support and are deeply grateful. Thank you!
Department Head, Speech and Hearing Science
2023 By the Numbers
Thanks to your support during this past fiscal year, the Department of Speech and Hearing Science continues to be transformed, resulting in:
$491,725 Dollars Raised
345 Students Enrolled
119 Degrees granted in 2021-2022 academic year
Your support has helped us continue to elevate the values that make Illinois distinctive: a sense of boundless aspiration, collaboration, and a global perspective.
New Equipment Expands Accessibility
With the help of donor funds, important new equipment was purchased for the Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology Clinic including an Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) system and laptop. Sadie Braun, clinical assistant professor, said, “The equipment allows us to test the integrity of the hair cells of the inner ear and therefore is an objective measure to help identify hearing loss.” The equipment will help clinicians test younger/difficult-to-test patients in the field who they would otherwise not be able to test with conventional audiometry. The new equipment also gives students experience with a state-of-the-art system that they may encounter in their external clinical rotations and jobs in the future. In addition to the OAE system, donor funds supported a new touchscreen monitor. Jennifer Dahman, clinical assistant professor, said, “the touchscreen is a true asset to our clinic and a favorite clinic tool!”
The Impact of the Willard R. Zemlin Fund
The Willard R. Zemlin Memorial Fund was established to commemorate the life and work of Professor Emeritus Willard R. Zemlin, who had a profound impact on numerous students in the Speech and Hearing Science department. This year, the fund contributed to the advancement of a faculty member and a student by supporting their conference travel. Clinical Assistant Professor Clarion Mendes presented work about the Speech Accessibility Project: Working with Big Tech to Save Lives, at the 2023 Project Voice conference. The goal of the Speech Accessibility Project, led by the U of IL Professor Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, is to improve speech technology is to improve speech technology for people with a range of diverse speech patterns and disabilities. Ph.D. student Charlie Nudelman attended the Summer Vocology Institute held at the University of Utah. Of his experience, Nudelman said, “Attending the Summer Vocology Institute this summer was truly unforgettable, and one of the best learning experiences of my life. I engaged with like-minded peers who shared my passion, but more importantly, I connected with and learned from a monumental scientist who I aspire to be like.”
Ron and Sonita Gaitros Scholarship Provides Opportunities for Students
The Ron and Sonita Gaitros Scholarship Fund was established to support travel scholarships for students in the Department of Speech and Hearing Science. In 2022-23, six students received scholarships to attend both national and international conferences. Ph.D. student Gibbeum Kim said, “sharing my research at a conference with peers in my field shaped my evolution as an independent researcher. Their feedback both enhanced my research abilities and provided direction for my future work in the field.” Kaley Graves, AuD student, said, “I got to meet alumni of UIUC that are also in our field and I have made some incredibly valuable connections for mentorship. I am fortunate to have been afforded the travel funding to help offset the expenses. I wouldn’t have made those valuable connections otherwise.” The following students attended conferences with the help of the Gaitros Travel Award:
● Siliva Murgia, Ph.D. student, attended Forum Acusticum 2023 in Italy and 2022 Inter Noise Convention in Scotland
● Gibbeum Kim, Ph.D. student, attended 2023 Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO) Meeting in Florida and UBISS 2023 in Finland.
● Elisabeth Coster, M.A. student, attended 2022 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention in Louisianna
● Kaley Graves, AuD student, attended AAA 2023 + HearTECH Expo in Washington
● Rebekah Bosley, Ph.D. student, attended 2023 55th Gatlinburg Conference in Missouri
● Alex Barkhimer, Ph.D. student, attended 2023 55th Gatlinburg Conference in Missouri
Continue Your Support
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See More Impact
Philanthropy has benefited students, faculty, and staff in many ways. Browse the list below to learn more about how your impact can be felt across campus.