Speech-Language Pathology Areas of Research


Our faculty conduct research in a broad range of topics related to augmentative and alternative communication. In addition to being an internationally renowned expert in evidence based practice, Dr. Schlosser studies symbol representation and the efficacy of speech-generating devices on diverse populations including children with autism. Dr. Patel works with engineers and computer scientists to build novel communication aids that leverage the vocal abilities of individuals with severe speech impairments.

Motor Speech Disorders

Individuals with neurogenic impairments often present with speech motor disorders such as apraxia of speech and/or dysarthria. Dr. O’Neil Pirozzi’s studies these impairments in individuals who have suffered traumatic brain injury. Her extensive network of clinical affiliations, including Spaulding Rehabilitation Center, provide a natural outlet for transforming research findings to clinical practice. Dr. Patel’s work focuses on acoustic consistencies in dysarthric speech with the goal of developing technologies that can harness these regularities for communication.

Cognitive-Communication Disorders

Individuals with neurogenic impairments often present with cognitive-communication disorders in such areas as attention, memory, and executive function. Dr. O’Neil-Pirozzi studies these impairments in individuals who have suffered traumatic brain injury with the goal of maximizing their functional outcomes.


Individuals of any age can have difficulty eating, drinking, and/or swallowing (dysphagia) for a multitude of reasons. Dr. O’Neil-Pirozzi studies characteristics of feeding-swallowing in various populations to better understand motor, sensory, aerodynamic, and cognitive-behavioral aspects of these processes in order to maximize diagnostic and therapeutic interventions with individuals who have dysphagia. Dr. Emily Zimmerman studies pediatric dysphagia and designs assessments and implements therapies aimed at improving sucking and oral feeding development with a special focus on infants born premature.

Homelessness and Literacy

Compared with families who are homed, families who are homeless are at increased risk for decreased language and health literacy. Dr. O’Neil-Pirozzi has a long history of working with these families in various clinical and research capacities to facilitate their language and health literacy skills and language and health outcomes.