Clinic Director Iris Fishman Successfully Completes Dissertation Defense

Photo of Iris FishmanThe department congratulates Iris Fishman, MA, CCC-SLP on successfully defending her dissertation. She will earn a Ph.D. in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences from the Graduate Center, City University of NY in 2018.

Iris directs the clinic at the NYU Steinhardt Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders. She is a speech-language pathologist who has directed a number of speech-language pathology and assistive technology programs in the NY metropolitan area. Iris is also the author of a book and several articles on AAC, has presented at major national conferences, and guest lectured at a number of universities.

Iris’ thesis is titled Lexical Access in Individuals with Cerebral Palsy (CP) and Severe Speech and Physical Impairment (SSPI). The study examined 16 adolescents and adults with CP/SSPI to determine whether lexical access is independent of severe speech impairment. Through eye tracking, spoken word recognition was examined in phonological competitor and semantic relative conditions. Results indicated that lexical access and organization develop independent of production.
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Tara McAllister Develops App for Speech Therapy

Photo of Tara McAllister AppMispronouncing the “r” sound is among the most common speech errors, and is the most challenging to correct in speech therapy. For other sounds – such as “t” or “p” – speech pathologists can give clear verbal, visual, or tactile cues to help children understand how the sound is created, but “r” is difficult to show or explain. In addition, some children may have trouble hearing the difference between correct and incorrect “r” sounds, making it even more difficult for them to improve.

A growing body of evidence suggests that speech therapy incorporating visual cues — or visual biofeedback — can help. Visual biofeedback shows a someone what their speech looks like in real time. For instance, speech might be represented by dynamic waves on a screen.

Research led by Tara McAllister, assistant professor of communicative sciences and disorders at NYU Steinhardt, and published in May in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, suggests that visual biofeedback can be effective in helping some people to correct the “r” sound.

Read more about Dr. McAllister’s work in developing the app in Steinhardt’s At a Glance blog.

Dysphagia Research in the News

Cooking for DysphagiaThis spring, Erin Embry, clinical assistant professor and Sonja Molfenter, assistant professor, were both quoted in articles sharing how to cook for a loved one of any age who has dysphagia, a common swallowing disorder. Ms. Embry teaches a class during the January term with Lisa Sasson of Steinhardt’s Nutrition and Food Studies Department bringing together students from both CSD and nutrition to study dysphagia and compete in an “Iron Chef” type competition. Dr. Molfenter, whose research focuses on disordered swallowing, served as a judge at the competition.

Recipes for People with Dysphagia: Don’t Forget Flavor (

How to Cook for a Loved One with Dysphagia (

A New Type of Cookbook Focuses on Celebrating Good Food for All (DIVERSEability Magazine)

How to Cook for A Child with Dysphagia (

Susannah Levi Publishes Study on Bilingualism in Children

Associate Professor Susannah Levi’s recent study on bilingualism in children was published in the journal Bilingualism: Language and CognitionThe study found that bilingual children are better than their monolingual peers at perceiving information about who is talking, including recognizing voices. The findings suggest yet another advantage of speaking multiple languages beyond the well-known cognitive benefits.

Processing who is talking is an important social component of communication and begins to develop even before birth. In her study, Professor Levi examined how children process information about who is talking, and sought to understand whether differences existed between children speaking one language or multiple languages.

Visit NYU Steinhardt’s At a Glance to read the full story.

Steinhardt CSD Department Students and Faculty Win NYS Speech-Language-Hearing Association Awards (NYSSLHA) Awards

We are pleased to announce that a faculty member, doctoral student, and an undergraduate student in the department recently won 2017 NYS Speech-Language-Hearing Association Awards (NYSSLHA) Awards.

The students won based on criteria that include research involvement, academic performance, clinical performance, pre-professional leadership, community involvement, and an essay explaining why they chose a career in speech-language pathology.

The Association’s honors are awarded to members who have distinguished themselves as leaders in the professions of Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology, or the discipline of communication sciences and disorders. Congratulations to Dr. Harriet Klein, Mehak Noorani, and Heather Campbell!


Photo of Dr. Harriet KleinDr. Harriet Klein, Professor of Communicative Sciences and Disorders: Winner of the NYSSLHA Honors of the Association Award






Photo of Mehak Noorani
Mehak Noorani:
Winner of the Undergraduate Student Award for the best poster at the NYSSLHA convention






Photo of Heather Campbell

Heather Campbell: Winner of the NYSSLHA Doctoral Research Award.


Sonja Molfenter and Maria Grigos Win Steinhardt Faculty Challenge Grants

We are proud to announce that two of our faculty members, Dr. Sonja Molfenter and Dr. Maria Grigos, were awarded Steinhardt Faculty Challenge Grants for their respective research projects.

Photo of Sonja MolfenterAssistant Professor Sonja Molfenter received the Steinhardt Cross-Department Collaborative Award grant along with Kenneth Aigen, Associate Professor of Music Therapy. Dr. Molfenter’s current research specializes in understanding the physiological features of both normal swallowing and disordered swallowing (known as dysphagia). Dr. Aigen’s research uses musicological analyses to reveal connections between the elements of music and common cognitive, emotional, and physical goals in music therapy.

Dr. Molfenter and Dr. Aigen will collaborate on their project “High intensity group vocal exercise to improve laryngeal function in patients with Parkinson’s disease” during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Photo of Maria GrigosAssociate Professor and director of the M.S. program Maria Grigos along with speech therapist Etoile Leblanc of NYU Langone Medical Center were awarded the 2017-2018 Research Development Award for their project “Speech motor learning following facial reconstruction”. Dr. Grigos’ current research focuses on speech motor control in children and adults, with a specific emphasis on motor and language interactions.



CSD and Nutrition Students Team Up for Iron Chef Competition

PhotoThe kitchen in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies was buzzing during the quiet January intersession thanks to a unique class taught in collaboration with the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders.

The class, Interdisciplinary Care-Based Management in Dysphagia, brings together students from both speech pathology and nutrition master’s programs. Dysphagia, a swallowing disorder, can affect patients of all ages and across many conditions. The course is taught by Erin Embry, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders and Director of Speech@NYU, and Lisa Sasson, Clinical Assistant Professor of Nutrition. It aims to teach students how to bring pleasure, taste, and satisfaction back to eating for those experiencing dysphagia. “The course was founded in the belief that although individuals may have limitations in their diets, they should not be deprived of the joy and satisfaction of healthy, delicious food,” said Sasson. ”People who eat better have better overall health outcomes.”

The Iron Chef competition, which is the culminating experience of the course, gives student groups a hypothetical patient profile in which to model their plan of action after. Once they have analyzed the needs of their patient (including their medical diagnosis, recommended diet, and cultural and psychosocial considerations), they develop recipes to meet their needs. The recipes were judged by an esteemed panel from NYU Steinhardt, Rusk Rehabilitation, and the food and nutrition communities. Judges included:

Pamela Morris: Vice Dean at NYU Steinhardt and Professor of Applied Psychology.

Dan Amatuzzi: A sommelier, adjunct professor at both NYU Steinhardt and NYU Stern School of Business, and Wine Director for Eataly.

Sonja Molfenter: Assistant Professor in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, whose research specializes in disruptions in swallowing function.

Michael Ferraro: Chef and owner of Delicatessen and Mac Bar, who helped to launch Cooking. Comfort. Care., a program that provides nutritional tips and recipes to caregivers and patients with pancreatic cancer.

Preeti Raghavan, MD: Clinician and researcher at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation focusing on patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries, stroke, and those with neurological conditions.

Rocco DiSpirito: Cookbook author, television personality, James Beard award winner, and a council member for Feeding America and ambassador for Health Corps.

Special thanks also goes to the “Quickfire Challenge” judges Dr. Christina Reuterskiold, PhD, Chair of the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Allison Schulman, MS, RD, Pegah Jalali, MS, RD, and Kelila Jaffe, Food Program Coordinator, who tested “mocktails” made by each group to their patient’s specifications. The winner of this round did not have to include the surprise ingredient (tofu) in their dish.

The winners of the competition (Team 1) made a delicious meal consisting of spicy risotto, black beans, and a coconut milk-infused shake for a woman with anxiety related to swallowing. The audience favorite winners (Team 5) produced a macaroni and cheese and vanilla milkshake combo for a young non-verbal child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Other dishes included spicy lentil daal, salmon, roasted carrots, and a mango lassi drink.

Speech@NYU, NYU Steinhardt’s online master’s program in Communicative Sciences and Disorders, put together Dining with Dysphagia, A Cookbook. The book is full of delicious and easy recipes, and just like the Iron Chef competition, it is aimed to make eating an enjoyable experience for patients with all levels of dysphagia.

Iron Chef 2017

Student Spotlight: Q&A with CSD Senior Mehak Noorani

Photo of Mehak NooraniUndergraduate students in the NYU Steinhardt Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders come from a wide range of backgrounds and have varied interests. We talked with Mehak Noorani, a current senior in the CSD program who came to NYU to study something else, but was drawn to the many opportunities a degree in CSD could offer her. Combined with an array of minors, Mehak is just one example of how to make CSD undergraduate studies at NYU Steinhardt a truly unique experience.

What is your background, and what brought you to NYU Steinhardt to study in the CSD undergraduate program?

I am originally from Dallas, Texas, but my parents are immigrants to the U.S. from Pakistan, so I grew up in a bilingual household learning both Urdu and English, while also learning Spanish at school since kindergarten. I have always been interested in languages and the psychology behind how we use them in different contexts. I originally came to NYU to study linguistics, but I realized in my first year that I had always also been interested in health professions, due to both of my paternal grandparents passing away from stroke when I was a young child. When I first came upon the CSD program, I realized that it was the perfect intersection of these two broad fields I wanted to study.

What are your favorite aspects of the CSD program at NYU Steinhardt?

My favorite aspect of the program is the dedicated and inspiring faculty. I am currently pursuing the CSD Honors Program, and one of the requirements is to propose an independent research project and write a senior thesis under the mentorship of a faculty member in our department. This process is something that I never could have imagined myself doing when I first came to NYU. However, thanks to the support I’ve received from my faculty mentor, Dr. Sonja Molfenter, and the director of the undergraduate program, Dr. Susannah Levi, I have been successful thus far in collecting data and working towards writing my final paper.

Both of these professors have taught me to critically ask questions about what we learn in the classroom as well as come up with ways to creatively tackle them. Although my thesis is not due until the end of the semester, I already know that I will walk away from my education at NYU with a sharper mind and a higher sense of self-confidence than I came in with due to the unwavering encouragement I’ve received from the faculty.

Do you have any minors or other areas of study you are interested in? How do you think these relate to your study of CSD?

I carefully chose three minors to complement my CSD education: Global Public Health, Multi-Faith and Spiritual Leadership, and Nutrition and Dietetics. Each of these minors have integrated seamlessly into my training as a future speech-language pathologist.

For example, as speech-language pathologists, we are healthcare providers that fit into larger systems of health policy and it is to our advantage to be aware of the other issues that affect our clients, which is why I chose to study Global Public Health. In addition, each of the clients we see is more than simply a speech/language diagnosis. I chose the minor Multi-Faith and Spiritual Leadership in the Silver School of Social Work so as to better prepare myself to serve people of various faiths, ethnicities, genders, and other backgrounds. Lastly, many SLPs evaluate and provide therapy to patients who suffer from swallowing disorders, which is the area of research I have focused on for my thesis. The Nutrition and Dietetics minor has taught me the importance of safe swallowing outside the realm of speech-language pathology. Eating and drinking are very important to who we are as individual people as well as to our society, and any disruption in this skill can greatly harm a person’s physical and mental health.

I am incredibly grateful to have been able to pursue each of these minors as they have taught me to think critically about our field and the people we serve.

How do you hope to use your degree in CSD to further your career goals?

When I first became interested in the field of communicative sciences and disorders, I thought I only wanted to be a clinician. However, through being involved in research labs, creating my own research project, and what I’ve learned in the classroom, I have realized that I can make a greater impact on the people we serve through clinically relevant research and I hope to one day be a researcher in our field.

I have also learned, however, that the best research comes from clinicians who are aware of the most pressing needs of the populations we serve. As such, I am currently applying to graduate schools around the country to obtain my Masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology. I hope to work as a speech-language pathologist for many years in order to become finely attuned to the realities in our field. My hope is that this experience will make me a stronger researcher when I return to university to pursue a Ph.D.

None of these realizations would have been possible without my professors, my volunteer and internship experiences, as well as the lifelong friendships I’ve built with my classmates. My undergraduate career at NYU Steinhardt has certainly built a very strong foundation for my future career aspirations, and I will always look back to these years as one of the most transformative periods of my life.









B&B Singers Serenade Doctoral Student

This fall, Professor Diana Sidtis’ B&B Singers gave CSD doctoral student Binna Lee a singing surprise as they serenaded her on the occasion of her advancing to candidacy. Warm congratulations go out to Binna from the entire department!

Photo of B&B Singers

Photo of Binna Lee

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CSD grad students perform hearing screenings at elementary school

csd-2.gifOn Nov. 2, the Communicative Sciences and Disorders Department visited P.S. 267 on the Upper East Side for the school’s annual health fair. Second year graduate students in the Practicum II course, under the supervision of clinicians Erasmia Ioannou-Benakis and José Ortiz, gave lessons on hearing education, covering healthy hearing, good hygiene and proper hearing practices. They also performed screenings and provided referrals for full audiological services.

“This event was an excellent opportunity to provide a service to the local community and to provide education regarding hearing health,” said Oritz, a clinician supervisor in the department. “We got a positive response from students and parents at the school and looking ahead, we’d definitely like to do this sort of thing again.”

Two graduate students offered their takes on their time working with the young students at P.S. 267.

“It was incredibly rewarding to educate young children because healthy hearing habits should start as early as possible since many children have exposure to devices using headphones like iPhonesfrom a young age,” said Stephanie Lee.

“My hope is that families will pass along the message to others and raise awareness about healthy hearing,” said Jessica Stone.