Julius Fridriksson – Director

Julius Fridriksson is a professor in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders. He graduated from the Sudurnes Community College (Iceland) with a university preparatory degree (studentsprof) and later completed his M.A. in speech pathology at the University of Central Florida. He then received a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in Speech Pathology in 2001. Following completion of Ph.D. study, Dr. Fridriksson joined the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of South Carolina.

Leigh Ann Spell – Associate Director

Leigh Ann Spell, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is the Associate Director of the Aphasia Laboratory at the University of South Carolina. She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at UofSC. She graduated with a B.S. in Education/Speech-Language Therapy from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and obtained her M.S.P. and Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina specializing in working with individuals with communicative/cognitive disorders secondary to traumatic brain injury and other neurological disorders. She was a professor of Speech-Language Pathology at Columbia College for 16 years and has had a private practice in which she has worked with both children and adults with cognitive/communicative disorders.

Research Assistant Professor

Alexandra Basilakos

Alexandra Basilakos, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist and a C-STAR postdoctoral fellow. She earned both her B.A. and Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina, punctuated by time spent at the University of Georgia for her M.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders. In addition to aphasia recovery, her research interests include improving the differential diagnosis of post-stroke motor speech disorders (apraxia of speech and dysarthria) to improve the clinical management of aphasia and frequently co-occurring speech production deficits. To this end, her work utilizes a combination of neuroimaging modalities in addition to acoustic and perceptual analyses of speech.

Staff

Hanh Adkins – Accountant

Hanh Adkins is the Office and Financial Manager in the Aphasia Laboratory. Hanh is originally from Columbia, SC and received her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the Darla Moore School of Business at UofSC. She has enjoyed her time and experience gained in the Aphasia Laboratory and looks forward to continuing her work with the C-STAR team. In her spare time, Hanh enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Kelli Powell – Administrative Assistant

Kelli Powell is the Administrative Assistant in the Aphasia Laboratory. She has a B.S. in Business Administration & Management Science from the Darla Moore School of Business at UofSC. Although originally from southwest Florida, Kelli has called Columbia, SC home since obtaining her degree. In her free time, she loves to travel with her family but can usually be found at a baseball game or Gamecock sporting event.

Research Associates

Mary Aitchison – Speech-Language Pathologist

Mary Aitchison, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is a Research Associate and ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist at the University of South Carolina’s Center for the Study of Aphasia Recovery (C-STAR). She graduated with a B.A.Sc. in Child Studies/ Exceptional Children from the University of Guelph in Canada, and her M.S.P. and Ph.D. in Speech Pathology from the University of South Carolina. With a career nearing 3 decades, Dr. Aitchison has held various positions that allowed her to maintain, and share, her passion for clinical practice and collaboration in conjunction with teaching, supervision, and research. She has served as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the UofSC School of Medicine – Departments of Surgery and Pediatrics, and as Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Her clinical experience includes specialization in the rehabilitation of adults impacted by stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other neurological disorders.

Allison Croxton – Speech-Language Pathologist

Allison Croxton, M.S.P., CCC-SLP, is a research associate for the Center for the Study for Aphasia Recovery (C-STAR). Raised primarily in Central Kentucky, she moved to Columbia, SC during high school. She graduated from Dreher High School (’94), and earned a B.A. in English from Wofford College (’98). Her interests in language acquisition/recovery, the power of communication, and her desire to work in a field where she could help improve others’ quality of life, led her to pursuing a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She graduated in 2000 with her Master of Speech Pathology from the University of South Carolina. Allison is excited to be a part of such important research, and is continually inspired by the individuals and families with whom she works. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her three children, extended family, and friends. She also enjoys walking, yoga, reading, photography & music.

Michele Martin-Speech Language Pathologist

Michele Martin, M.S. CCC-SLP, is a Research Associate for the Center for the Study of Aphasia Recovery. She grew up in Sumter, SC and graduated from Columbia College with a B.A in Speech Correction and from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa with a M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology. Michele has worked as a speech-language pathologist in a variety of settings including: hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health, and private practice and has experience with a wide range of cognitive and communication disorders, with aphasia being of particular interest. Michele recently moved to a new home on Lake Murray, and she is very excited to have the opportunity to participate in clinical research that will contribute to best practices in the treatment of aphasia. In her free time, she enjoys visiting her two grown children and extended family, home decorating, boating, gardening and relaxing.

Samaneh Nemati-Research Associate

Samaneh Nemati, M.S, Biomedical Engineering is a Research Associate in the Aphasia Laboratory at the University of South Carolina. She graduated with a M.S in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Cognitive Neuroscience at Ferdowsi University (Iran). Then she joined Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and the National Center for PTSD, as a Postgraduate Associate Researcher where her work focused on applying connectivity-based approaches to elucidate biomarkers of stress-related psychiatric disorders. Her current focus is application of multivariate methods of data analysis to neuroimaging data of healthy and damaged brains, with a particular emphasis on a clinical population of stroke survivors.

Sara Sayers – Speech-Language Pathologist

Sara Sayers is a Research Associate for the Center for the Study of Aphasia Recovery. She graduated with a B.S. in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2007 and a M.S. in Speech Language Pathology at Towson University in 2009. She is an ASHA certified Speech Language Pathologist who specializes in adult neurogenic communication disorders. Her current focus is investigating the relationship between language impairment and response to treatment in patients with chronic aphasia to better predict aphasia treatment outcomes.

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Lorelei Phillip Johnson

Lorelei Phillip Johnson, M.S., CCC-SLP is a postdoctoral fellow and speech language pathologist. She graduated from Duke University with a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and completed her master’s degree in speech language pathology at Vanderbilt University. She defended her dissertation in November of last year and looks forward to graduating with her doctoral degree from the University of South Carolina this spring. Her research interests include aphasia treatment and recovery, neuroimaging, and post-stroke quality of life. She is from Concord, North Carolina and enjoys baking and reading.

Doctoral Students

Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson is a doctoral student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Graduate Program at UofSC. She received her bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Science from Arizona State University and has previously worked as a Speech-Language Pathology Assistant. Her research interests primarily focus on language recovery and speech processing in adults who have aphasia using neuroimaging techniques. She is from Owasso, Oklahoma and enjoys drawing and traveling in her spare time.

Lynsey Keator

Lynsey Keator, MA, CCC-SLP is an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist (SLP) and doctoral student. She graduated from the University of Delaware in 2013 with a B.S. Cognitive Science with a concentration in Speech-Language Pathology and a B.A. in Spanish Studies. She graduated in 2016 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with an M.A. in Communication Disorders, concentration in Speech-Language Pathology. Most recently, Lynsey worked as a research SLP at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Stroke Cognitive Outcomes and Recovery lab collaborating with the C-STAR team. Lynsey’s primary research interests include the interdisciplinary collaboration of speech language pathology and neuroscience in stroke rehabilitation and specifically, the implementation of neuroimaging to explore the recruitment of residual neural networks following a traumatic event, such as a stroke.

Sigfus Kristinsson

Sigfus is a first year doctoral student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program at the University of South Carolina and a Speech-Language Pathologist. Sigfus recently moved to SC from Iceland, where he grew up and earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Iceland. He plans to pursue a career as a researcher in a university setting. In his free time, Sigfus spends time with his family, reads, hikes and enjoys the outdoors.

Hunter Steiner

Hunter Steiner is a doctoral student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Program at UofSC. He received his Bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a focus in International Relations from the University of Alabama along with a minor in Spanish in 2009. He graduated in 2018 from the University of Alabama with a M.Sc. in Speech-Language Pathology. Hunter previously worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist in a skilled nursing facility in Jasper, AL focusing in rehabilitation and long-term care. His primary interests include acquired brain injury, neuroimaging, and aging. He is from the Mississippi Delta and enjoys hiking, graphic design, and playing music in his spare time.

Graduate Students

Delara Abedini

Delara is a graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at the University of South Carolina (UofSC). She is from Greenville, SC, and received her undergraduate degree in Public Health at UofSC. Delara started as a volunteer in the Aphasia Lab during her senior year of undergraduate school and is excited to be back as a graduate assistant. In her free time, Delara enjoys painting, trying new foods, and staying active.

Lallie Bennett

Lallie Bennett is a graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at the University of South Carolina (UofSC). She is from Meridian, MS and graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a degree in psychology. Lallie is interested in a career working with adults with neurogenic disorders in a hospital or rehab setting. In her spare time, Lallie enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family.

Moriah Camak

Moriah grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and attended the University of Alabama for her undergraduate degree in Communication Disorders. She is currently a graduate student in the UofSC Speech-language Pathology program.