Funding the Future In 1946 the ASHFoundation proudly awarded its first research grant in the amount of $75. In 2005 it had many more reasons to be proud: the 2005 ASHFoundation grants, in all categories, totaled $182,000. The brief profiles that follow are only a very few of the faces of the future. ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   November 01, 2006
Funding the Future
Author Notes
  • Ellen Uffen, The ASHA Leader’s former managing editor of features, retired in March.
    Ellen Uffen, The ASHA Leader’s former managing editor of features, retired in March.×
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Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Professional Issues & Training / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   November 01, 2006
Funding the Future
The ASHA Leader, November 2006, Vol. 11, 14-15. doi:10.1044/leader.AN3.11152006.14
The ASHA Leader, November 2006, Vol. 11, 14-15. doi:10.1044/leader.AN3.11152006.14
In 1946 the ASHFoundation proudly awarded its first research grant in the amount of $75. In 2005 it had many more reasons to be proud: the 2005 ASHFoundation grants, in all categories, totaled $182,000.
The brief profiles that follow are only a very few of the faces of the future. Their examples illustrate how the field of communication sciences and disorders will be served, thanks to the efforts of the ASHFoundation and all of its generous supporters.
Virginia Sue Ramachandran
Completion of the AuD degree in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Wayne State University is only the first step in the future of Virginia Sue Ramachandran, a recipient of a 2005 ASHFoundation doctoral scholarship. Ramachandran plans to become a clinical researcher in audiology. She has chosen to pursue the research track of the AuD, which will enable her to begin PhD coursework at the same time she is fulfilling the AuD requirements.
While practicing as a social worker in a health care setting-she holds both BSW and MSW degrees from Wayne State-Ramachandran became aware of the isolation that often results from hearing loss. Of all the professionals providing services to her patients, audiologists gained Ramachandran’s greatest respect and admiration. The audiologists dealt directly with the isolation: they removed cerumen, fit hearing aids, and counseled family and friends about hearing loss. In her view, they addressed her patients’ most urgent needs.
Ramachandran was introduced to research in her post-bachelor year of coursework through her work with a researcher who was conducting studies in speech perception. Later, she participated in research with a group in Wayne State’s medical school that conducted studies in basic science of the auditory system, including animal-model research on the pathophysiology underlying tinnitus. Ramachandran’s current research interest is in the development of treatment strategies for individuals with tinnitus.
“I have come to relish the research process with its never-ending questions and challenges,” Ramachandran says. “The idea of pursuing a career embracing these elements fills me with awe.” She strongly believes in the importance of the hands-on research experience for students in communication sciences and disorders, especially given the current focus on evidence-based practice. “Without experience of the actual practice of research,” Ramachandran says, “it is difficult for students to appreciate the value of quality research or to evaluate the findings presented by others.”
Jonathan Preston
Jonathan Preston, a PhD candidate in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Syracuse University and a certified speech-language pathologist (SLP), is the recipient of a 2005 ASHFoundation graduate student scholarship. A summa cum laude graduate of Elmira College, he continued his excellent work at the master’s level at Syracuse, where he is currently impressing his doctoral mentors.
Preston has worked as an SLP with preschool and school-age children with speech and language impairments and plans to build on his experiences after he receives his degree. “I have become very interested in research related to articulation and phonological disorders,” he says, “and discovered that there is a great deal that can be done to help children improve their speech sound production. However, much more research is necessary.”
With current trends focusing on evidence-based practice, there is need, Preston believes, for descriptive data and documented evidence of the efficacy of clinical intervention. As a new researcher, it will be his goal “to determine to what extent internal and external factors influence a child’s ability to recover from a phonological disorder by examining those children whose speech sound systems have normalized and those whose systems have not.”
Preston is particularly interested in service delivery models in schools. Because large caseloads, scheduling constraints, and administrative requests can tax clinicians’ abilities to plan and deliver research-based interventions effectively, he sees the need for “advocacy work and improvement in these areas once there is adequate research to define appropriate interventions more accurately. It is my hope,” Preston says, “that my future work-specifically in the areas of literacy instruction and evidence-based practice-will help contribute to highly effective intervention models.” Preston is beginning work on his dissertation, which will examine the relationship between speech production features and phonological processing in young children.
Cathy Binger
An assistant professor-and a published scholar-in the Department of Speech and Hearing
Sciences at the University of New Mexico, Cathy Binger received a 2005 ASHFoundation Research Grant for New Investigators to support her project, “The Effects of a Parent Instructional Program on the Multi-Symbol Utterances of Latino Children Who Require Augmentative and Alternative Communication.” Binger is also an ASHFoundation success story: as a graduate student in 2003 she was also the recipient of a New Century Scholars award.
As an undergraduate student at The Pennsylvania State University, Binger was already investigating the early literacy experiences of children who used augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). When she returned to Penn State for her PhD studies (completed in 2004), she carried out several research investigations, including a survey project to investigate the demographics of preschoolers who use AAC and an intervention study examining the impact of using aided AAC modeling on the multi-symbol utterances of preschoolers who use AAC.
Explaining her new project, Binger says that children who require AAC have difficulties shifting from the single- to multi-symbol stage of development. “Given that this stage marks the beginning of the transition from semantics to syntax and the onset of generative language,” she adds, “ensuring that children who use AAC receive evidence-based interventions to address this problem is a critical need in the AAC field.”
Binger’s project has direct clinical implications for speech-language pathology, since its purpose is to train caregivers to provide children with appropriate models for producing multi-symbol utterances using AAC. Moreover, the study, by ensuring that all participants are Latino, will also address the needs of a population sorely neglected in intervention literature. Based on feedback from the parents and Latino caregivers participating in the study, Binger will modify the treatment program to ensure its cultural appropriateness.
Current Programs

(Refer to ASHFoundation’s Grants and Awards Web page for complete descriptions. The 2006 ASHFoundation award recipients will be announced later this month at the ASHA Convention. See the Awards supplement in this issue for the Clinical Achievement Award recipients.)

Research Grants
  • New Century Scholars Research Grants

  • New Investigator Research Grants

  • Research Grant in Speech Science

  • Student Research Grant in Audiology

  • Student Research Grant in Early Childhood Language Development

  • Research Travel Stipends

Master’s and Doctoral Scholarships
  • New Century Scholars Doctoral Scholarships

  • Graduate Student Scholarships

  • Student With a Disability Scholarship

  • Minority Student Scholarship

  • International Student Scholarship

Clinical Achievement Awards
  • Frank R. Kleffner Clinical Career Award

  • Louis M. DiCarlo Award for Recent Clinical Achievement

  • Rolland J. Van Hattum Award for Contribution in the Schools

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November 2006
Volume 11, Issue 15