Leadership

Julius Fridriksson – Director

Julius Fridriksson is a professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and a SmartState Endowed Chair of Memory and Brain Functioning. 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 and Hearing Sciences in 2001. Following completion of Ph.D. study, Dr. Fridriksson joined the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of South Carolina.  In 2016, he received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop the Center for the Study of Aphasia Recovery (C-STAR).  He is currently serving as the interim Vice President of Research at the University of South Carolina.

Dirk den Ouden – Interim Director

Dirk den Ouden is an Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders. He was trained in formal phonology and syntax at the University of      Groningen in the Netherlands, and completed postdoctoral training in EEG and functional MRI, before moving to the University of South Carolina in 2010. Dirk directs the Neurolinguistics Lab and serves as the interim director of the Aphasia Lab in 2021-2022.  Dirk’s research interest lies in the relation between language representations and language use, and in how their interplay is affected in language disorders.    He has combined models based on linguistic theory with psycho- and neurolinguistic evidence in the investigation of language processing and impairment, particularly in the domains of phonology and syntax. However, he is also very much interested in the use of drama and music to improve quality of life in speakers with aphasia!

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.

Roger Newman-Norlund – Director of the McCausland Center for Brain Imaging (MCBI)

Roger is a cognitive neuroscientist interested in how the brain supports language production and comprehension. As a graduate student at Dartmouth College he mapped brain changes accompanying sound and gesture-based second language acquisition. As part of the Aphasia Lab at the University of South Carolina he uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to understand how the brain changes as people get older, as well as how the brain adapts following traumatic events. He has over a decade of experience in the application of computer technology-based training interventions designed to develop communication skills in clinical populations including stroke, traumatic brain injury and autism.

Hanh Adkins – Office & Financial Manager/Accountant

Hanh Adkins is originally from Columbia, SC and received her Master’s degree in Accounting from the Darla Moore School of Business at UofSC. She has enjoyed her time and experience gained at 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 dogs, family and friends.

Staff

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 returns to UofSC as a Research Associate and ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist. Hailing from Canada, she graduated with her B.A.Sc. degree from the University of Guelph. She earned her Master’s, 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 love of clinical practice and collaboration in conjunction with teaching, supervision, and research.  She served as a Clinical Assistant Professor in 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 conditions.

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.

Sarah Newman-Norlund

Sarah Newman-Norlund

Sarah Newman-Norlund is a research associate for the Aging Brain Cohort (ABC) which is a research team dedicated to understanding the factors influencing brain health across the adult lifespan. She graduated from Mary Washington College (VA) with a B.A. in Psychology (2001) and earned her Master’s in Psychological and Brain Sciences (2003).  Sarah moved to Columbia, SC with her husband Roger in 2009 from the Netherlands where she worked on an international research project looking at communicative intentions and the brain. She has dedicated her career to research in multiple domains including cancer research, communication, cognition, neuroscience, and pediatric medicine.  Everything is better with teamwork and she loves being a part of ABC and C-STAR.  Sarah also enjoys spending time with her three children, hiking, baking, making jewelry, and walking her dog Bella. 

Sara Sayers

Sara Sayers – Speech-Language Pathologist

Sara Sayers is a Research Associate for the Center for the Study of Aphasia Recovery and the Aging Brain Cohort. 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 how peoples’ brain health changes as they age as well as the neurological and social-emotional impacts of COVID-19 on recovered individuals. In her free time, Sara enjoys spending time with her family and friends, doing yoga, walking, and trying out new recipes.

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Natalie Hetherington

Natalie Hetherington

Natalie (Busby) Hetherington, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow from the UK where she earned both her B.S. in Psychology and Biology and M.Res. in Neuroscience from Newcastle University. She graduated with her doctoral degree from the Neuroscience and Aphasia Unit at the University of Manchester at the end of last year before moving to SC. Her research interests include using neuroimaging, in particular structural connectivity, to investigate language recovery post-stroke. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys travelling and photography. 

Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson Norris, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in the Aphasia Lab. Prior to completing her doctoral degree at UofSC, she received her B.S. from Arizona State University in Speech and Hearing Science where she found a passion for studying adult neurogenic disorders. Her primary research interests include investigating the behavioral and neural factors which predict treatment response and aphasia severity, how neural synchrony can impact language ability, and the effects of overall health on neural changes after stroke. She recently started gardening and loves to show off her fresh tomatoes and cucumbers any chance she gets!

Sigfus Kristinsson

Sigfus Kristinsson is a postdoctoral fellow in the Aphasia Lab. Sigfus graduated with a B.A. in Icelandic from the University of Iceland and later completed his M.Sc. in Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) at the University of Iceland. Sigfus worked clinically as an SLP after graduation, primarily providing speech therapy to stroke survivors. He then completed his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 2021. Following completion of his Ph.D., Dr. Kristinsson joined the UofSC Aphasia Lab as a postdoctoral fellow. 

Alex Teghipco

Alex Teghipco is a postdoctoral fellow. Alex studied psycholinguistics at the University of Rochester, where he received a B.A in brain and cognitive science as well as philosophy. He spent two years studying language reorganization in epilepsy and stroke patients at the Rochester Center for Brain Imaging before getting his Ph.D in cognitive neuroscience at the University of California, Irvine. Alex is interested in understanding which changes in the brain following injury facilitate language recovery. He enjoys spending his free time with family and friends, especially while hiking, camping, and playing board games.”

Doctoral Students

Makayla Gibson

Makayla Gibson

Makayla Gibson is a doctoral student in the Experimental Psychology Program at UofSC. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Public Health from the University of South Carolina in 2018. Her research interests include neuroimaging and brain stimulation techniques to study stroke and aphasia outcomes. Makayla is a South Carolina native who enjoys hunting, fishing and anything outdoors! 

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.

Samaneh Nemati

Samaneh Nemati, M.S, Biomedical Engineering is a doctoral student 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.

Nicholas Riccardi

Nicholas Riccardi is a doctoral student in the Experimental Psychology program at UofSC. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Experimental Psychology from UofSC in 2015. He uses neuroimaging, brain stimulation, and lesion-symptom mapping to study the neural organization of language processing. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with friends, reading, and travelling.

Graduate Students

Alexis Baldwin

Alexis Baldwin is a graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at UofSC. She is from Dallas, North Carolina and graduated from Western Carolina University with a B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders and minors in Special Education and Psychology. Alexis is excited to experience everything Columbia has to offer. She interested in working in a hospital setting with adults who have neurogenic disorders or dysphagia in the future. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, watching baseball, visiting new places, as well as spending time with her friends and family.

Ceci Bradley

Ceci Bradley

Ceci Bradley is a graduate student in UofSC’s Speech-Language Pathology program. She grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee and earned her B.A. in Spanish and her B.S.Ed. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Georgia. Her time as an undergraduate research assistant in UGA’s Cognitive-Communication Rehabilitation Lab sparked her interest in continuing to pursue research in graduate school. Ceci aspires to work in an acute care setting, specifically with individuals who have suffered strokes or traumatic brain injuries. When she has a moment of free time, Ceci enjoys reading, running, practicing yoga, and spending time with her friends and family.

Alexis Capell

Alexis Capell

Alexis Capell is a graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at the University of South Carolina (UofSC). She is from Hickory, NC, and received her undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Western Carolina University. Alexis is excited to be working in the Aphasia Lab as a graduate assistant. Alexis, herself, had a stroke at a young age and aspires to work with children or adults with neurogenic disorders. Alexis has a personal connection and passion for neurogenic disorders and stroke survivors. In her free time, Alexis enjoys spending time with her husband, friends, and dog.

Kristen DeJulio

Hello, my name is Kristen DeJulio! I am a proud 2021 graduate of UofSC with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. While I earned my degree in SC, I am originally from New York. I have so loved my time at Carolina and am honored to be continuing my education here in the COMD Master’s program to fulfill my dream of becoming a Speech Pathologist! There is so much to be learned and many people to meet, and I wouldn’t want to do so anywhere else. Go Gamecocks! 

India Godlock

Hi! My name is India Godlock. I am a graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at the University of South Carolina. I received my undergraduate degree from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Communication Sciences and Disorders. I am thrilled to be working towards becoming an SLP, and I hope to one day work with young children. I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to work in the Aphasia lab throughout my time as a graduate student here at UofSC, and I look forward to learning a lot through this experience.

Lily Jarold

Lily Jarold is a graduate student in UofSC’s Speech-Language Pathology program. She is originally from Pittsburgh, PA and received her undergraduate degree in Linguistics from the University of Pittsburgh. After graduating, Lily taught ESL in Japan before returning to Pittsburgh and working for the TalkBank Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, which led her to pursue graduate studies in Speech-Language Pathology. In her spare time, Lily enjoys reading, cooking, traveling, and enjoying the outdoors.

Leona Kelly

Leona Kelly is a graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at the University of South Carolina. She is from Spartanburg, South Carolina and received her undergraduate degree in Public Health with a minor in Psychology at UofSC. Leona aspires to work with children or adults with neurologically based disorders in the hospital setting. In her free time, she enjoys stunting and tumbling with former teammates that she cheered with at UofSC.

Janie Logue

Janie is a graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at the University of South Carolina (UofSC). She earned a B.A. at UofSC where she majored in Public Health. Janie started out as a volunteer in the Aphasia Lab her senior year and will continue to work in the lab as a graduate research assistant. During her time as a volunteer at the Aphasia Lab, Janie has developed a passion for working with stroke survivors and is interested in focusing on this population once she graduates. In her free time, Janie enjoys spending time with her family and being outdoors.

Aubrey Nickelson

Aubrey Nickelson is a graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at UofSC. I grew up in Connecticut, but have been in Atlanta, Georgia since high school! I received my undergraduate degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Psychology from Auburn University…War Eagle! I hope to work with children or adults who have neurogenic disorders and have a particular interest in those who have had a stroke or a traumatic brain injury. In my free time, I love being active, traveling to visit friends and family, and trying new recipes.

Lauren Owens

Lauren Owens is a graduate student in the University of South Carolina Speech-Language Pathology program. She is from Johnsonville, SC, and graduated from Francis Marion University with a B.A. in Mass Communication. Though she is excited to learn about all aspects of Speech-Language Pathology, she is interested in working with individuals with neurogenic disorders, specifically traumatic brain injuries and strokes. Outside of her studies, Lauren enjoys going to concerts, working out, visiting state and national parks, and hanging out with friends and family.

Kelly Ryan

Kelly Ryan is a graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at the University of South Carolina. She is from Yardley, Pennsylvania, and earned her B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a minor in Spanish from Penn State University. She is excited to be a graduate assistant on the Aging Brain Cohort team in the Aphasia Lab. Kelly aspires to work in a medical setting as an SLP after graduation, with particular interest in stroke, TBI, and neurodegenerative disorders so she can help these patients regain their communication skills. Outside of her studies, Kelly enjoys working out and going places with friends.

Kristi Snow

Kristi Snow is a graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at UofSC. She is from Alexandria, VA and graduated from Clemson University with a B.A. in Communication. Kristi hopes to work with adults in a medical setting in the future, and is excited to gain experience in the Aphasia Lab. In her free time, Kristi enjoys cooking and baking, spending time outside, and going for walks with her dog.

Liz Stein

Liz Stein

Liz Stein is a graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at UofSC. She is from Midland, MI and obtained her B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Central Michigan University. Liz hopes to work with both adults and children in an outpatient rehabilitation setting. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with friends and family, hiking and reading a good book.

Jane Stratton

Jane Stratton is a graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology Program at UofSC. She is from Columbia, SC and graduated from Clemson University with a B.A. in Biological Sciences and minor in Animal and Veterinary Science. After graduation, Jane worked as a Registered Behavior Technician at an ABA clinic in Columbia. In her free time, Jane enjoys working out, cooking and spending time with her family and friends.

Kat Vlatch

Kat is a graduate student in UofSC’s Speech-Language Pathology program.Originally from Europe, Kat went to high school in Massachusetts before completing her undergraduate degree in Linguistics & French at UCLA. After graduating, Kat worked as a Translator and Account Manager but decided to go to graduate school to pursue a career path as an SLP. While shadowing an SLP, Kat discovered her passion for working with stroke victims, wanting to help them regain their speech, especially when it comes to phonetic articulation. In her spare time, Kat enjoys cooking, spending time with friends and family, traveling and photography.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson is a Master’s student in Linguistics, with a concentration in Psycholinguistics. She received her B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her research interests include language acquisition, lexical and syntactic processing, and language impairment. She is a member of the Aging Brain Cohort (ABC) team in the Aphasia Lab. In her free time, Sarah enjoys equestrianism, hiking, reading, and foreign language study.

Undergraduate Students

Lindsay Gilchrist

Lindsay Gilchrist is an undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and on a Pre-Med track. Lindsay is particularly interested in Neuroscience and is eager to explore more about neurological diseases as well as conduct research in brain health and how the brain recovers after injury. After graduating in 2023, she hopes to attend medical school and pursue a career in Neurology. During her free time, Lindsay enjoys spending quality time with friends and family, in addition to reading, traveling, and exercising.

Jade Hannan

Jade Hannan

Jade is an undergraduate student in the South Carolina Honors College studying biology, neuroscience, and French. She is interested in neuroplasticity and exploring how the brain recovers after injury. Originally from Atlantic Beach, Florida, Jade aspires to attend medical school and serve others as a compassionate listener and advocate. In her spare time, Jade enjoys baking, playing tennis, and visiting national parks with her family.

Laney Hayes

Laney Hayes is an undergraduate student at the South Carolina Honors College pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. She aspires to attend graduate school and obtain a Master’s degree in the same field with a heightened emphasis on tissue engineering. She hopes to one day do engineering-based research for a global medical agency geared towards assisting areas with limited access to modern medical technology. She has a passion for people and loves to help those in all walks of life in any way possible. In her free time, Laney loves to run, travel, read, and crochet.

Joshua Hutto

Joshua Hutto is an undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina Honors College majoring in Biological Sciences. Anticipating a May 2022 graduation, he hopes    to attend a medical school and pursue a career in diagnostic radiology. Joshua enjoys traveling, is fluent in German, and holds both American and German citizenship. In his spare time, he enjoys playing guitar, motorcycling, piloting and aviation, SCUBA diving, and wrenching around on anything with an engine.

Lexi Paulson

Lexi Paulson

Lexi is an undergraduate student at the South Carolina Honors College pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Psychology. She hopes to attend graduate school to receive her Master’s degree with a specialty in tissue engineering and prosthetics. She plans to combine these two fields in order to ease a patient’s discomfort when receiving treatment for a disability. In her free time, Lexi is an avid hockey fan and enjoys watching games with friends.

Halle Spanke

Halle Spanke is an undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina majoring in Experimental Psychology and a minor in Biology. After graduation, she hopes to attend medical school and pursue a career in psychiatry. She enjoys spending her free time reading a good book or doing yoga.

Kyler Spell

Kyler Spell is an undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina studying Computer Science. Kyler would like to extend his studies into research. He has a passion for computing and technology and their integration into our world. As a classically trained musician, he enjoys listening to and playing a variety of different musical styles.  He is currently a member of the Carolina Marching Band. He enjoys watching all kinds of sports and especially Gamecock athletics programs.