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Doctoral student receives national research fellowship

Kathryn Kao

May 25, 2016

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Seles Gadson, a third-year doctoral student in the department of communication sciences and special education, recently received a national fellowship that may benefit future researchers and patients with neurological injuries and disorders.

Awarded by the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD), Gadson's nine-week summer fellowship will allow her to study and conduct research on a paid stipend at NIDCD's laboratory located on the campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland.

Seles Gadson

"I am hopeful that this experience will foster more opportunities at UGA for interdisciplinary research across departments and colleges to enhance innovative practices in the area of communication sciences and disorders," said Gadson. "I'm so proud to be a bulldog, and I look forward to representing UGA this summer at NIH."

Additionally, Gadson will be mentored by Allen Braun, chief of NIDCD's language section, as part of NIH's Graduate Student Opportunity for Advance Research program.

Braun's research initiatives in positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) coincide with Gadson's current research in aphasia, a language disorder caused by a neurological injury to the left side of the brain.

Once she joins the team, Gadson will use her knowledge and experience in clinical intervention practices to assist Braun's ongoing project at NIDCD. She hopes this experience will influence her dissertation research by advancing her knowledge of brain activity and real-world language use.

"Although Dr. Braun's current research project investigates diverse aspects of language recovery, I believe studying discourse production in PWA could directly guide practices of intensive research, language remediation and quality of life," said Gadson.

Her current research uses neuroplasticity and a biopsychosocial framework to integrate yoga, meditation and psychosocial counseling with intensive action language therapy in people with aphasia (PWA).

Although Braun's research project investigates diverse aspects of language recovery, Gadson believes studying discourse production in PWA could directly guide practices of intensive research, language remediation and quality of life.

"With better understanding of the role of neural connections in PWA during discourse production, clinicians can identify best practices that support communication, fluency and content," she said. "These concepts have potential benefits in client-centered goal setting, service delivery, functional treatment approaches and clinician education."