Department News, Fall 2018

Message from the Chair
Department Spotlights
Department Announcements
Alumni Updates/Class Notes
Donor Recognition

Message From the Chair



James Mahshie

Jim Mahshie, Chair

I’m very pleased to introduce this issue of HearSay, the newsletter of the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. This has already proven to be a busy academic year with the arrival of our new crop of first years, and post-baccalaureate students. Clinic began the second week in September and all is going smoothly.

Perhaps the biggest news that I would like to share is the creation of a PhD program in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. After considerable discussion and planning the GW Council on Doctoral Education approved the program in April. It will start up in 2020 with three students per year. For the following three years the program will grow by an additional three students per year for a total of 12 by 2024. Read more about this exciting development in this issue.

We’ve also created a new mechanism for ensuring that we all have an opportunity to get together during the semester, the result of both student and faculty/staff discussions. Project INTERACT has begun, with regular meeting planned for outside speakers, research discussions and other academic and clinical topics of interest.

I nnovating
N ew Ideas
T eaching and Learning
E xploration
R esearch
A dvocacy
C ommunity building
T ouching base

We are pleased to greet new supervisors in the Speech and Hearing Center. Andrea Toomey will be involved with the pediatric track, and Drs. Phyllip Taylor-Alonso and Nicole Jordan have joined as audiologists.

We just noted the 18 month anniversary of the Alumni Council. They planned a very successful series of events in the spring and are actively planning for the alumni get-together during the 2019 American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention in Boston. Please do check out the alumni corner of this issue.

I want to again thank all of those who have supported the department during the past year. Alumni support takes many forms, from philanthropy to participation in events like the annual clinic conversations to engaging our graduate students as externs. Your engagement adds to the quality of the program.


Jim Mahshie, Chair


Dr. Mahshie at the dedication of a joint lab between the department and Nanjing Normal University with someone from their university.


Dr. Mahshie at the dedication of a joint lab between the department and Nanjing Normal University.


Department Spotlights

Introducing the PhD in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences



Speech and Hearing Center sign.


We are excited to announce that a doctoral program in speech, language and hearing sciences will launch in fall 2020. Our department has had aspirations for developing a PhD program for years. And now, due in large part to the initial vision of our faculty,  the timing is right to develop a program that is consistent with the standards of doctoral programs at GW and our peer universities and capitalizes on the research and teaching expertise in our department.

A few members of our department constituted the task force charged with developing a PhD program that took advantage of the amazing and diverse talent we have in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. The task force identified an important theme—translational research—that guided the program’s development. The program that emerged is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing from expertise in our department in the areas of psychology, neuroscience, physiology and linguistics as well as speech, language and hearing disorders. We know of a number of graduates from our MA and BA program in speech language pathology who have gone on to pursue a PhD at other Institutions. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of our faculty and this new PhD program, students with a variety of undergraduate or other graduate degrees with an interest in speech and language will find this an interesting avenue for furthering their education.

There are elements of the program that will be taught outside of the department, such as statistics. The program is designed to provide students with considerable flexibility to explore areas of interest both within the department and elsewhere throughout the university. We anticipate that the program will intersect with other programs and institutes within the university, such as ANDI, the Neuroscience Institute and the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department.

We envision that the program will further enhance the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences’ research profile and culture while providing quality graduates for various roles in academia and industry. The positive impact of this growth extends to our MA and BA programs as well. A new interdisciplinary PhD program which emphasizes translational science is a win for all levels of students interested in the human ability to communicate through language, as well as our department and GW. A rising tide lifts all boats, and we are thrilled for this new addition to the department and the university.

 SPHR Goes to Mexico!



Group of graduate students and faculty in front of a DIF sign in Mexico during a study abroad trip.

Image Caption (Optional)

In March 2018, Kari Comer and Cynthia Core took 12 second-year graduate students from the SPHR department to Querétaro, Mexico for our third study abroad trip. The group participated in daily Spanish language classes related to SLP practice followed by site visits to numerous institutions around Querétaro including private practices, hospitals, nonprofits, NICU and hippotherapy. Students were also able to interact with local college students to practice Spanish and learn about the area. The group had time for fun as well. They took a yoga class taught in Spanish and went on two daytrips to Tequisquiapan, San Miguel and Guanajuato to experience the local culture. This elective exposes students to the skills necessary to become a culturally rich speech therapist while participating in international collaborations in speech-language pathology.

We are looking forward to traveling to Queretaro again in March 2019!

Research Spotlight: Greg Wallace



Greg Wallace

Greg Wallace (Photo: Long Nguyen)

This article originally appeared in the CCAS Spotlight newsmagazine.

For many families, particularly those with small children, the dinner table can be a minefield of stress. Young children are often notoriously picky eaters, eschewing vegetables for chicken nuggets, drowning dishes in ketchup and refusing to even consider new foods if they look or smell unappealing.

But when a family member has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), meal-time pressure can be ratcheted to near-crisis levels. Researchers have long known of a link between eating difficulties and people on the autism spectrum. One study found that children with ASD are five times more likely to face meal-time challenges—from extremely narrow food selections to ritualistic eating behaviors to meal-related tantrums—than their typically developing peers. In some cases, people with ASD may be hyper-sensitive to food textures. And some endure a range of physical difficulties from swallowing issues to gastrointestinal distress.

“People often downplay eating problems with young people and say they’ll grow out of it. Well, many young people with autism don’t,” said Greg Wallace, assistant professor of speech, language and hearing sciences, whose research has focused on both brain imaging and behavioral development in ASD. Wallace has talked to parents who are beside themselves at meal-time and young people who describe swallowing crunchy food as feeling like knives down their throats.

And now Wallace is investigating another possible autism-related eating irregularity: overeating. Studies have shown that children with autism are more likely to be “picky” eaters than their same-age peers, a state which is usually associated with being underweight. But they are also, paradoxically, more likely to be obese, Wallace noted. Along with a team of graduate and undergraduate assistants, Wallace is searching for a connection between selective-eaters and overeaters in an attempt to devise better behavioral therapy solutions for both groups.

“Issues of eating can be destructive in so many ways,” Wallace said. “It goes well beyond being picky. Selective eaters may be dealing with nutritional issues. And, of course, we know the dangers of obesity. These are issues that have real effects on people’s health and their quality of life.”

Backed by a $74,000 National Institutes of Health contract, Wallace conducts several lines of research into both the brains and the behaviors of people with autism. As director of GW’s Lab of Autism and Developmental Neuroscience, he collaborates with the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Children's National Health System and with the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition at the National Institute of Mental Health. Much of their work involves using magnetic resonance imaging to map structural brain development and examine neuropsychological functioning in people with ASD.

Over the past several years, Wallace has found his lab branching increasingly beyond neuroscience and into addressing the practical implications of eating-related behaviors. “Our research takes a facet of autism— eating difficulties—that has profound ramifications on the wellbeing of those on the spectrum and seeks to understand their underlying mechanisms,” said Emily Richard, BS ’17, Wallace’s senior research assistant and lab manager.

Wallace’s pilot study on overeating, funded through a $25,000 grant from the Maternal and Child Health Research Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, involves employing questionnaire-based data to determine if children with autism are more likely to be rated as overeaters than typically developing children. Phase two of the study will center on in-person testing of children with autism to examine any cognitive underpinnings of a possible increased propensity to overeat.

While his work is still in its infancy, Wallace’s findings appear to point to a link between overeating in children with autism and difficulties in behavioral flexibility, such as struggling to shift between tasks or settings. That link may explain the connection of autism with selective eaters, who tend to show greater inflexibility. Indeed, Wallace theorizes that there may even be a subset of people with autism who could be both selective eaters and overeaters. “In other words, you restrict what you eat, but if you like it, you really like it and you indulge,” he said.

Discovering these types of connections between different aspects of autism may lead to potential research and therapy breakthroughs. While Wallace warns that any firm conclusions are a long way off, cognitive behavioral therapy that has shown success with selective eaters may eventually be adapted and modified to create a similar program for overeaters.

Making assumptions for autism treatments, however, is always hazardous, given the highly individual nature of the disorder. “There’s a common saying: If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” Richard said. “But finding similarities and exploring where differences originate helps us guide future research to better serve the many people who are on the autism spectrum, regardless of how different from one another they may be.”

Department Announcements

Faculty Kudos

Dr. Malathi Thothathiri received an RO1 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research cognitive control and sentence processing among people with aphasia.

Dr. Lynne Bernstein received an NIH R56 grant for a project titled “Visual Speech Perception Training to Ameliorate Hearing Difficulties in Older Adults.”

The department welcomed three new clinical supervisors in the past year:

  • Dr. Nicole Jordan joins us from Stanford Children’s hospital. There, she specialized in pediatric audiologic evaluations, cochlear implant evaluations, hearing device consultations and programming, assistive device fittings and audiologic counseling for families with children with hearing loss. She was lead audiologist on the Stanford Children’s Cleft and Cranio Facial team, providing complex audiologic care to complicated cases using a multidisciplinary team approach. She has been involved in clinical education and supervision of students. Dr. Jordan joined the department in May 2018.
  • Dr. Phyllip Taylor-Alonso graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2015. He became interested in audiology while working for a hearing aid manufacturer. In 2014, he moved to Hawaii where he worked principally with veterans of the United States Armed Services and assisted them with diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss. Dr. Taylor-Alonso joined George Washington University in October 2017.
  • Professor Andrea Toomey graduated from James Madison University with a bachelor’s in 1995 and a master’s in 2001. Originally from New York City, she has spent most of her career in Northern Virginia in school settings and early intervention. With a strong focus in pediatrics, she has expertise in early intervention, pediatric language development, motor speech development and autism and pragmatic skills. Professor Toomey joined the department in August 2018.

Dr. Shelley Brundage was promoted to full professor. Congratulations, Dr. Brundage! And Dr. Malathi Thothathiri received tenure and was promoted to associate professor. Congratulations, Dr. Thothathiri!

Dr. Craig Linebaugh was awarded the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Prize for Service. Congratulations, Dr. Linebaugh!

Adrienne Hancock was featured in the Washington Post article “Helping transgender women find their voice.” She was also selected to receive ASHA’s Media Outreach Champion Award for her outstanding efforts fostering media coverage of communication disorders and the professionals who work to prevent and treat them. As one of three 2018 Media Outreach Champions, she will be honored during a reception at the ASHA convention in Boston.

Gregory Wallace was quoted by Scientific American in the article “Brains of Children with Autism Show Unusual Folding Patterns.”

Dr. Shelley Brundage presented at the SIG Writing Conference in Antwerp, Belgium with fellow GW colleagues Phillip Troutman (history) and Royce Francis (engineering), regarding different rhetorical strategies to teaching writing across disciplines.

Dr. James Mahshie was elected coordinator of the SIG 9 coordinating committee (Hearing and Hearing Loss in Children) beginning January 1, 2018.

Dr. Geralyn Schulz is the Perspectives editor for SIG 18 (Telepractice).

Current Students

This year, we had five seniors graduate with Special Departmental Honors in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences: Jenna Cafora, Lauren Ciemniecki, Eugenia Diaz Mogollon, Madison Rosenthal and Romy Stankofski. Congratulations on this fabulous accomplishment!

Kudos to our three thesis students and their mentors:

  • Kai Alterman: “Influence of Semantic Repetition Priming and Dose Effect on Naming Performance by Persons With Aphasia,” directed by Dr. Craig Linebaugh.
  • Shannon Wheeler:  "The Role of Exemplar Typicality in the Semantic Feature Analysis Treatment of Anomia and Implications for Group Aphasia Therapy," directed by Dr. Craig Linebaugh.
  • Nandini Srinivasan: "Covert Contrasts in the Vowel Productions of Young Spanish-English Bilingual Language Learners," directed by Dr. Cynthia Core.

The department has six MA students participating in the Graduate Education of Related Service Providers at Georgetown University (GEORGE) program. This training includes coursework and a practicum experience with mentorship specifically designed to promote comprehensive, evidence-based, family-centered, culturally and linguistically competent, interdisciplinary services and supports for vulnerable children and their families.

Department Events

ASHA Convention

We will be at the ASHA convention in Boston! We are hosting a GW Alumni Reception on November 16 from 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the Social Register, just two blocks from the convention center!. Appetizers and one drink ticket courtesy of the department and CCAS alumni programs, so come on over to reconnect with faculty and your alumni friends!

Come see our faculty and students in the following presentations:

Topic Area: Traumatic Brain Injury
Session Number: 6189 Poster Board 311
Title: “Snarky or Malarkey: Social Perception of Lying & Sarcasm in Neurotypical Adults”
Session Format: Poster
Day: Thursday, November 15, 2018
Time: 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Authors:  Michael Bamdad, Shelley Brundage, Julie Goldberg, Kelly Jones

Topic Area: Hearing, Language, and Speech in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Birth to School Transition
Session Number: 6031 Poster Board 153
Title: “Comparison of Consonant Production by Children with Cochlear Implants & Children with Typical Hearing”
Session Format: Poster
Day: Thursday, November 15, 2018
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Authors:  Lauren Ciemniecki, James Mahshie

Topic Area: Hearing, Language, and Speech in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Birth to School Transition
Session Number: 6167 Poster Board 289
Title: “Acoustic Characteristics of Voice Produced by Children With Cochlear Implants”
Session Format: Poster
Day: Thursday, November 15, 2018
Time: 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Authors:  James Mahshie

Topic Area: Telepractice and Technology
Session Number: 6536 Poster Board 151
Title: “Telepractice Listening Post”
Session Format: Poster
Day: Saturday, November 17, 2018
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Authors: Robin Alvares, Nathan Cornish-Raley, Melissa Jakubowitz, Joneen Lowman, Lisa Rai Mabry Price, Tracy Sippl, Geralyn Schulz

Topic Area: Telepractice and Technology
Session Number: 1247
Title: “Evolution of Telepractice: Deconstructing the Myths”
Session Format: Seminar 1-hour
Day: Thursday, November 15, 2018
Time: 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Author(s): Melissa Jakubowitz, Robin Alvares, Nathan Cornish-Raley, Joneen Lowman, Geralyn Schulz, Tracy Sippl

Topic Area: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
Session Number: 1599
Title: “What Clinicians Need to Know About Early Bilingual Language Development”
Session Format: Seminar 1-hour
Day:  Friday, November 16, 2018
Time:  5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Author(s):  Cynthia Core, Erika Hoff

Topic Area: Language in Infants through Preschoolers
Session Number: 1449
Title: “Best Practices for Assessment & Treatment of Speech Development in Early Intervention”
Session Format: Seminar 1-hour
Day:  Friday, November 16, 2018
Time:  1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Author(s): Corey Cassidy, Cynthia Core

Alumni News

In January 2017, the department formed the Alumni Council as a component of our alumni engagement plan. Working with the CCAS Alumni Relations Office, the council was formed to create opportunities to connect alumni with current students, fellow alumni and the greater speech and hearing network in the D.C. area.

Since its creation, the council has developed and promoted three events: a social in fall 2017, an alumni networking event in spring 2018 and an alumni social event in May 2018. The latter event was particularly significant; the graduating class of grad students was invited as guests as a way of introducing them to the council and as encouragement to stay connected. The council also prepared small gift bags for graduating students that were presented at the celebration brunch sponsored by the department. Additional events are being planned for the upcoming year, including a social in conjunction with the ASHA conference in Boston and a networking event for graduate students to learn more about clinical work in different settings.

Please “like” the GW Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences official Facebook page and/or join the LinkedIn “GW SPHR Alumni” group for more details about the department and upcoming events.

If you are interested in joining the council or getting involved as an alumnus, please reach out to us at [email protected]

Co-Chairs: Melissa Bloomer, MA '05, & Tracy (Higgens) Gee, MA '09
Secretary:  Kristen (Kiselewich) Stricks, MA '08
Members:  Susan Sigler, MA '92, Kate (Riverso) Roessler, MA '07,  James Brinton, MA '11
Alumni Liaison: Dr. Schulz
Ex Officio: Dr. Mahshie
Executive Director, CCAS Alumni Programs: Anita Ponchione

Alumni Updates/Class Notes

Karen Blomberg, MA ’80, continues to specialize in treating adult onset neurological disorders; specializing in dysphagia and feeding difficulties. She enjoys supervising a GW graduate student every spring and a UDC graduate student every fall.

Linda Carpenter, BA ’69, retired in 2009 from the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She lives in The Villages, Fla., where she has been working on a study of the state's voluntary pre-kindergarten program.

Judy Cicale, MA ’77, has lived in Gainesville, Fla., since 1979. She has been a field training audiologist for ReSound since 2006.

Arliene Entine-Reich, BA ’74, has been in her own private practice for the past 35 years, after having been employed in two hospital settings. Her undergraduate degree in speech pathology provided a solid foundation for graduate school at University of Michigan and a very rewarding career!

Robyn Fields, MA ’80, lives in New York. She has a teletherapy speech and language practice, treating home-schooled students over the internet.

Patricia Gaffney, BA ’01, is faculty in the Department of Audiology at Nova Southeastern University and specializes in vestibular assessment and treatment. She is also involved with the American Academy of Audiology and presents nationally.

Kristen Greene, BA ’05, is currently a special education teacher for students with autism within Boston public schools. In March, she gave birth to her daughter, Isla Gabrielle. Additionally her and her husband are in the process of adopting their 4-year-old foster son.

Marjorie (McKinley) Houston, MA ’88, has been a private practice audiologist in Escondido, Calif., since 1992. She is married with two children.

Junerose Juan, MA ’10, spent the last few years as the clinical office manager at a private practice in the San Francisco bay area. This year she went on two medical missions to the Angkor Hospital for Children in Cambodia.

Caroline Kaufmann, MA ’18, moved from her hometown of Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles in May 2018 to pursue a clinical fellowship opportunity. She currently works as a speech-language pathologist for KIPP L.A. schools.

Terry Perl, BA ’67, MA ’71, retired in 2011 after serving as CEO of Chimes International for 40 years. He currently lives in Tucson and Flagstaff, Ariz., with his wife, Martha, and two standard poodles. He is an active community volunteer, golfer and world traveler.

Matt Prunier, BA ’98, and his wife, Nicole Prunier, BA ’98, are both wealth management advisors in Newburyport, Mass.

Sam Shepard, MA ’14, has started a mobile fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallow company in Houston, Texas! They provide FEES services, train new SLPs in FEES and provide CEU courses.

Lori Smith, BA ’92, has been working as a speech language therapist in a variety of public schools since 1996. She currently is the speech therapist for the South Orange/Maplewood Board of Education in an inclusive early childhood center.

Erika Strehl, BA ’12, currently lives in Seattle, Wash., anxiously waiting for their NHL team. She recently joined Providence St. Joseph Health as the senior project manager for the system Heart Institute.

Sharon Tievsky, MA ’74, recently retired as a speech-language pathologist at the Monarch Center for Autism in Cleveland, Ohio. Her and her husband, Andrew Tievsky, are currently living in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Corinne Zmoos, BA ’15, recently began as Easter Seals' speech pathologist at their D.C. Child Development Center. In addition to her caseload, she will be implementing a music and language curriculum to help every child at the center connect with their inner musician!

Donor Recognition

The Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Department would like to gratefully acknowledge the following generous donors who made a gift to the department from July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018.

*Friend | +GW Faculty/Staff | ~Student | #GW Parent

Once Upon A Time Foundation    

William L. Blumberg, BBA ’71, MBA ’75

Virginia N. Bridges, BA ’63 

Lauren R. Ciemniecki, BA ’18

Dr. Johnetta G. Davis, MA ’69

Francisco B. Dela Cruz #

Jeanifer C. Dela Cruz #

Alicia M. Dillingham, MA ’05

Annette S. Duffy + 

Kathryn M. Fields, BA ’18 

Sharon Heather Fisher, BA ’00 

Debra L. Gagliano, BA ’02 

Myra B. Gondos, BA ’69

Rebecca H. Katz, BA ’15 

Andre M. Lindsey, BA ’08

Dr. James J. Mahshie, Jr., #

Jamie Mahshie, BA ’18 

Bethany M. Perez, BA ’18 

William S. Rosenthal, MA ’66 

Maria H. Roumel, BA ’68, MA ’70 

Adrienne D. Schlossberg, BA ’65 

Michele K. Shields, MA ’76

Cynthia Ruth Weitz, MA ’73