2018 SSC Graduates

Congratulations to the Swallowing Systems Core’s alumni who have navigated research and clinical placements with our laboratory as well as the University of Florida’s Communication Sciences and Disorders program to earn their Master’s Degrees this past weekend! A few brief shout-outs would certainly never encompass all the hard work put in by these new Speech-Language Pathologists, but we can’t resist at least trying.

Kirstyn Sunday came with Dr. Ianessa Humbert from Johns Hopkins to establish the SSC lab, first as lab manager and then as a research assistant when she was accepted into the CSD program. Kirstyn will be moving on to a very prestigious clinical fellowship program at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics where she will further hone her skills and come into her own as an independent clinician.

Andrea Siluk worked closely with Dr. Emily Plowman on various projects that included a lot of work with our patients with ALS. She not only assisted in the laboratory during studies and with data organization and analysis but also saw patients as part of the approved home therapy visits central to adherence to some of Dr. Plowman’s treatment protocols.

Arielle Marcus first joined the lab on a clinical rotation through the CSD program, but was so keen with videofluoroscopy that she continued to work with doctoral candidate Alicia Vose on analysis for several novel projects. She could always be counted on for good discussion of swallowing and asked direct questions to challenge norms not in the best interest of our patients with dysphagia.

Rachel O’Neal stands out for her time under Dr. Plowman working on various studies but also for completing a Master’s Thesis! Rachel worked regularly in the lab and completed home therapy visits as well, all while juggling her academic responsibilities and the added requirements to complete research on pharyngeal constriction ratio in patients with ALS. Her thesis was “The relationship between pharyngeal strength and swallowing safety and swallowing efficiency in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis”.

Depicted here are Dr. Plowman, Rachel, and laboratory collaborator Dr. Karen Hegland with her thesis students as well.

We are so proud of their efforts to improve their clinical practice, critical thinking skills, and professional development in research. Congratulations to all of you, and please keep us posted on your accomplishments as you forge ahead as mature, thoughtful, competent clinicians!


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