Health and Behavior

A rare accomplishment

JMU student one of few undergrad presenters


 
image: /_images/news/2017/01/2017-casey-behre-asha-conference.jpg

SUMMARY: Behre was one of the very few--if not the only--undergraduate students presenting research at the conference. Her research is focused in speech acoustics, analyzing the relationship between fundamental frequency and articulation in healthy speech production.


Casey Behre is a senior Communication Sciences and Disorders major who studies speech acoustics as a research assistant for College of Health and Behavioral Studies Assistant Professor Dr. Christina Kuo. Behre is also an honors student who has used her time in the lab with Dr. Kuo as the backdrop for her undergraduate thesis.

“I’ve been working on research for three and a half years now. I started volunteering as a second semester freshman, then I started doing it for academic credit, and then it was a paid position,” said Behre. “It’s been such a great opportunity to get to work with Dr. Kuo. This work has shown me that I really love research and I want to keep doing research in the future.”

Supported in part by funding from the Office of Research and Scholarship, Behre recently travelled to Philadelphia to attend the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) 2016 Convention. This annual convention is the premier event for audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists, with more than 12,000 scholars and professionals in attendance. Though undergraduate students are often encouraged to attend the event as spectators, Behre was invited to attend as a presenter, sharing research findings compiled in partnership with Dr. Kuo.

“I submitted an abstract to ASHA based on my work for my honors thesis, and I found out in the summer that it had been accepted,” explained Behre. “I was actually the first author on the poster, with my professor listed as the second author, so it was the two of us together. Dr. Kuo let me take the lead on presenting because it was my project—my own data and research.”Behre’s work was featured as part of a poster presentation held on the second day of the convention. “I presented to about fifteen people during the session. Mostly I met with faculty and graduate students,” said Behre. “I received a lot of positive feedback. It’s a very complex area of research, so most people I spoke with were pretty dumbfounded to find out I was an undergraduate.”

Behre was one of the very few—if not the only—undergraduate students presenting research at the conference. Her research is focused in speech acoustics, analyzing the relationship between fundamental frequency and articulation in healthy speech production. “When speech comes out of your mouth, the sound is in wave form, so we look at the data from the waves on the computer,” Behre explained. “I do a lot of analysis working with the data of ten healthy, male speakers. So while we’re studying the sound, we’re interested in learning about how these speech sounds are made and understood. The idea is that if we look at these ten healthy speakers, then we can apply what we learn towards helping disordered speakers.”

“It’s pretty rare for an undergrad in my field to get a research lab position, and then to get the chance to present my research, that’s even more rare. It’s really going to distinguish me as someone applying to grad schools,” said Behre. “For me, I did it mostly because I love to learn, and even if this isn’t the exact area I want to go into in the future, I’ve learned so much.”After graduation, Behre hopes to continue to pursue research at the graduate school level, though she does not yet know where that research will take place. She does admit, though, that JMU is pretty high on her short list of programs.

Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Last Updated: Thursday, March 30, 2017

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