Three Tenure-Track Faculty Members Received New Investigators Research Grants

Drs. Nichol Castro, Thea Knowles, and Chris Heffner received 2021 New Investigators Research Grants from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation. This prestigious award is given to promising young investigators for research in speech-language pathology and audiology. Each year, the Foundation award about 10 young investigators, and this year the foundation awarded three to CDS faculty members. This is an exceptional achievement for our young faculty. We congratulate them on their success.

Nichol Castro Headshot.

Dr. Castro’s research focuses on how people with aphasia, a language disorder that occurs after stroke or with progressive neurodegeneration, (re)learn how to retrieve words from memory to improve rehabilitation outcomes. If you are interested in Dr. Castro’s research, please visit her lab website at

Thea Knowles Headshot.

Dr. Knowles’s research involves the area of motor speech disorders, with a focus on the acoustic and perceptual consequences of dysarthria secondary to Parkinson's disease. The goal of her research is to better inform speech assessment and management in Parkinson's disease. If you are interested in Dr. Knowles’ research, please visit her lab website at

Christopher Heffner Headshot.

Dr. Heffner's studies focus on the processes of learning and plasticity in speech perception, examining how listeners learn to tell sounds apart in second language and how they learn to accommodate to differences in accent and speech rate in their native language. He also investigates the neural underpinnings of these abilities through a combination of neuroscientific methods and the use of clinical populations, including Parkinson's Disease.  If you are interested in Dr. Heffner's research, please visit his lab website at