Communicative Sciences & Disorders PhD Students

Pictured above left-right: (Back row) Mark Berardi, Hamzeh Ghasemzadeh, Chelsea Johnson, Russel Banks, David Ford, Seth Tichenor, Chelsea Ozuch (Front Row) Yiling Liu, Caryn Herring, Erica Lescht, Xin Yan, Gregory Spray, Meisam Arjmandi

The CSD Doctoral Cohort

The Communicative Sciences & Disorders Department is currently home to 14 doctoral students, all with varying interests and focuses. Below is a little about them, and their interests within CSD:

Meisam Arjmandi Meisam Arjmandi.jpg

Meisam Arjmandi began his Ph.D. in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at Michigan State University in the fall of 2015. He received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, focusing on objective assessment of voice disorders. Meisam is currently doing research in MSU Speech Perception and Production Lab, working in three main areas: (1) Neurocognitive and behavioral mechanisms underlying perception of non-standard speech, (2) The role of prosodic cues on spoken word recognition in continuous natural speech, and (3) Infant-directed speech and language development in infants with hearing loss.

Meisam's long-term goal is to unravel the mechanism underlying the effective and robust sensation, perception, and recognition of audio-visual speech cues during oral communication. To this end, he aims to utilize various behavioral, signal processing, and neuroimaging techniques to elaborate our understanding of this multifaceted system of speech and language production/comprehension. The findings will pave way for devising more effective methods/tools for assessment, prevention, and treatment of disorders of speech and language. 

Meisam was recently awarded two Charles J. Strosacker Research Funds to identify acoustic phonetic properties of speech of African Americans and individuals with neurological disease (e.g. Parkinson's disease and traumatic brain injury (TBI)). 

Key Research Interests:

  • Neurocognitive & Acoustic Basis of Speech Perception and Production
  • Objective & Subjective Assessment of Voice Disorders
  • Cognitive Neuroscience of Speech & Language Disorders
  • Biomedical Signal Processing & Pattern Recognition
  • The Role of Prosody in Perception of Normal & Dispordered Speech
  • Infant-directed Speech & Language Development in Infants
Google Scholar Profile

Russell Banks, M.A., CCC-SLP

Russell Banks began his PhD at Michigan State University in the Fall of 2016. He is currently studying brain injury and the effects of concussion on the voice. He has presented his research recently at the International Brain Injury Association conference in New Orleans. He has also been in collaboration with Notre Dame University to further this research.  Russ was awarded the Strosacker Fellowship in January 2016. 

Russ completed his Master’s Degree in 2015 under Dr. Hunter’s mentorship in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at Michigan State University and completed his CCC’s in 2016. Russell Banks_0.jpgFor his thesis, he surveyed teachers in school districts across the United States to determine the effect on the voice by: (1) the size of each teacher’s classroom, (2) the vocally demanding extracurricular activities performed by each teacher, and (3) any habits that teachers may have. This research has been presented at several conferences and is currently being written up for publication. 

Before coming to MSU, Russ was mentored by Dr. Hunter at the National Center for Voice and Speech in Salt Lake City, Utah—a center at the University of Utah, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. There he was involved in several voice research projects. These research projects involved voice therapy techniques for singers and occupational users of voice, aging voice, and voice perception. Russ has worked with several voice and acoustical analysis software programs including Audacity, ADSV, LABChart, WaveSurfer, ELAN, TF32, Elan, Praat, various KayPentax programs, etc. Russ also worked with another student at the University of Utah on software that quantified recovery in rehabilitation of various voice disorders.

To see more of what Russ is up to, check Twitter and the thesis he's working on in Dr. Hunter's lab.


Mark Berardi Mark Berardi.jpg

Mark Berardi is a Ph.D. Student in the Department of Communicative Sciences & Disorders and primarily works with Dr. Eric Hunter. He is a dual Ph.D. major in the Department of Computational Mathematics, Science, and Engineering. Before coming to MSU, he received his B.S. in Applied Physics and worked with the Acoustics Research Group at Brigham Young University. His main research focus was the quantification of changes in vocal effort to varying acoustic environments. At MSU, Mark works on cutting edge machine learning applications to speech and voice disorders. Other professional interests include musical acoustics, architectural acoustics, and audio engineering. 


David Ford, M.S., CCC-SLP 

Prior to beginning the Ph.D. program, David spent 5 years treating patients with voice & swallowing disorders at Straka & McQuone, Inc., a private otolaryngology practice located just outside of Pittsburgh, PA. He also enjoyed appointments as adjunct professor and clinical instructor at Duquesne University. David Ford.jpg

David received his Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Duquesne University and has had clinical experience at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital and Ohio Valley General Hospital. He completed his clinical fellowship at the Northwest Clinic for Voice & Swallowing at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU). During his clinical fellowship, David had the opportunity to complete research investigating functional communication improvement following Lee Silverman Voice Treatment. His current research interests include: voice physiology, professional voice users, and vocal pathology. David has been featured in the ASHA Leader, a national publication celebrating excellence in speech-language pathology; the Liturgical Singer; and on the KDKA 6 O'Clock News.  He formerly served as the Vice President of Membership & Ethical Practices on the Pennsylvania Speech Hearing Association (PSHA) executive board of directors. 


Hamzeh Ghasemzadeh Hamzeh Ghasemzadeh.jpg

Hamzeh Ghasemzadeh was born in Tehran in 1984. He received both his BS and MS in Telecommunications Engineering. He was an adjunct professor at department of Electrical Engineering at Islamic Azad University, Damavand Branch until 2016. He is now pursuing a dual Ph.D. degree in both “Communication Sciences and Disorders” and “Computational Mathematics Science and Engineering” at Michigan State University. He has been working on different aspects of audio signals, covering acoustic analysis of pathological impaired voices to security driven applications of audio signals. His primary research interests are applying statistical signal analysis and machine learning techniques for solving different speech/voice related problems. Right now, he is working on statistical signal processing and data mining of data acquired through high speed videoendoscopy (HSV) from vocal folds. 


Caryn Herring, M.S., CCC-SLP 

Caryn Herring.jpg

Caryn Herring, M.S., CCC-SLP is a person who stutters, speech-language pathologist, and a doctoral student at Michigan State University. She received her B.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Pittsburgh with a certificate in American Sign Language, and her M.S. in Speech-Language Hearing Sciences from Purdue University.

Caryn has worked clinically with children and adults who stutter and was the SLP at SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young for 5 years. Caryn is on the board of directors of Friends – The National Association of Young People Who Stutter and co-hosts the StutterTalk B-Team Podcast. She is also actively involved in the National Stuttering Association, serving as a chapter leader for 7 years. Caryn has taught at MSU, The University of Pittsburgh, and was also a clinical supervisor and adjunct clinical instructor at Duquesne University.

Key Research Interests:

Caryn’s research interests include the process of desensitization and reducing the adverse cognitive and affective components of stuttering. She is interested in implementing systematic exposure therapy by using varying degrees of voluntary stuttering. 


Chelsea Johnson Chelsea Johnson_0.JPG

Chelsea is currently a doctoral student in the Communicative Sciences and Disorders Program at Michigan State University. She received her psychology and neuroscience undergraduate degrees from Michigan State University in 2015. Chelsea is interested in executive function processes and examining the structure and function of the brain in developmental stuttering. 


Erica Lescht, M.A., CF-SLP

Erica Lescht_1.jpg

Erica Lescht is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, under the guidance of Dr. Amanda Hampton Wray. She received a B.A. in Hearing and Speech Sciences and an M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Maryland under the supervision of Dr. Nan Bernstein Ratner. Her primary research interests focus on language processing and executive function in children who do and do not stutter.


CSD PhD Yiling1_1.jpgYiling Liu

Yiling Liu began her Ph.D. in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at Michigan State University in the fall of 2018. Earlier in 2018 she received her B.S in Applied Psychology. Yiling works with Dr. Amanda Hampton Wray and Dr. Soo-Eun Chang, doing research on stuttering with a focus on neural imaging. She is motivated to elucidate the underlying neural mechanism from different aspects such as interhemispheric inhibition and motor timing.


Key Research Interests:
  • Neural Basis of Developmental Stuttering
  • Diagnose & Prediction of Persistent Stuttering with Neural Markers
  • The Etiological vs. Compensatory Brain Networks Underling Stuttering
  • The Role of Interhemispheric Inhibition in Stuttering
  • Cognitive Aspects of Developmental Stuttering

Chelsea Ozuch

CSD PhD ChelseaO2_0.jpgChelsea Ozuch is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders (CSD) working with Dr. Jeffery Searl. Chelsea previously completed he B.A. and M.A. at Michigan State University with a clinical focus on medical aspects in adults with complex cognitive-linguistic and swallowing disorders. She is certified as an SLP with adult patients in the acute medical setting. Chelsea's research interests include dissemination of evidence based practices across clinical settings with emerging interests focusing on clinician and studetn training. Current projects include Eye-Gaze Tracking for Improved Interpretation of Videofluoroscopic Swallowing Studies. 


Greg Spray_0.jpgGregory J. Spray, M.A., CCC-SLP

Gregory J. Spray, M.A., CCC-SLP, is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at Michigan State University. He received his B.S. in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from Western Michigan University with concentrations in music, psychology, and holistic health care, and his M.A. in Communicative Sciences & Disorders from Michigan State University. 

Spray is actively involved with the Michigan Speech-Language-Hearing Association where he serves on the Executive Board as the Vice President of Membership. In spring 2017, he participated in the Erasmus+ Program where he studied at South West University in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria under the supervision of Prof. Dobrinka Georgieva, Ph.D. 

He has worked in various clinical settings, and across the lifespan (ages 2-103): acute care, outpatient rehab, private practice (peds/adult), home care, and skilled nursing facilities. His therapeutic expertise lies in the areas of dysphagia, motor speech disorders, and cognition. 

Key Research Interests:

Spray’s research interests include the neural basis of developmental stuttering that may help diagnose and predict persistent forms of stuttering. He is also interested in the neural basis of language development and disorders. He has published articles and presented posters in the areas of dyslexia, stuttering, and bilingualism. 

Previous & Current Courses Instructed: 

CSD 203: Introduction to Communicative Sciences & Disorders 

CSD 391: Observation & Analysis of Clinical Practice 

CSD 491: Neuro Basis for Communication 

CSD 813: Neuroanatomy & Physiology of Speech, Language, and Hearing 

CSD 820: Language Assessment & Intervention: Early Stages (Co-Instructor) 

CSD 865: Motor Speech Disorders 


Seth Tichenor, M.S., CCC-SLP CSD PhD Seth2_0.jpg

Seth Tichenor is a doctoral student in Communicative Sciences and Disorders at Michigan State University. He is a speech-language pathologist and a person who stutters. Seth’s research interests currently involve the experience of stuttering from the perspective of the speaker as well as better understanding how moments of stuttering develop and manifest. He is actively involved with support organizations for people who stutter, the NSA and Friends.