UC researcher receives $345,000 for research

6 November 2014 A University of Canterbury researcher has received $345,000 in Marsden funding to investigate the primary deficit in stuttering. (read article)

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‘There is a huge gap in the research about how to treat swallowing disorders...’

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Marsden Grant Successct

Dr Catherine Theys, lecturer in the Department of Communication Disorders and former post-doctoral fellow in the New Zealand Institute of Language Brain & Behaviour, was awarded a 3-year research grant of $345,000 to investigate the neural basis of stuttering. Dr Theys said, “This study aims to determine in which areas of the brain and in which sequence differences in neural processing occur between people who stutter and fluent speakers. From this information, we aim to develop a neuro-computational model capable of simulating the neural and behavioural characteristics of stuttering.” The research team also includes Professor Frank Guenther from Boston University, Professor Maarten De Vos from Oxford University, Dr Tracy Melzer from the New Zealand Brain Research Institute and Associate Professor Megan McAuliffe from the University of Canterbury’s Department of Communication Disorders. For more details, see the press release.

New research grantMBIE

The High-Value Manufacturing and Services Research Fund of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has awarded $1M in continued research funding to the New Zealand Institute of Language, Brain & Behaviour for the Aero-Tactile Enhancement of Speech Perception project. The research team consists of NZILBB researchers Donald Derrick, Tom De Rybel, Jen Hay, Greg O'Beirne (Communication Disorders/NZILBB), and Scott Lloyd. For more details see the press release.

Leading researcher wins Innovation MedalMaggie-Lee

A leading New Zealand communication disorders researcher who has improved the quality of life of patients and made financial savings for the health care industry has won the University of Canterbury’s Innovation Medal for 2014. Dr Maggie-Lee Huckabee, who is a world leader in cough-reflex research of stroke patients, will receive her medal at the Chancellor’s annual dinner later this year. Dr Huckabee’s world-class research seeks to prevent pneumonia in post-stroke or post-surgical stroke patients. Her work is nationally and internationally recognised and she has led clinicians from district health boards across New Zealand to change protocols. In the Canterbury District Health Board alone, the rate of pneumonia for patients who struggle to swallow following strokes dropped from 26 percent to 11 percent in a three year time period following implementation of her research results. This has resulted in a potential cost savings to the national health system of about $1.4 million. This innovation has not only improved patient outcomes and reduced health care costs, but has facilitated a culture of research and innovation for frontline clinicians, which is a key priority for the New Zealand Health Research Council. Dr Huckabee’s ongoing engagement with the clinical community to translate international and domestic research into New Zealand health care has produced a positive outcome for frontline clinicians. Dr Huckabee’s nomination received support from hospitals and speech therapists from around New Zealand and overseas.

Plural Publishing Research Award 2014Doreen

Congratulations to Doreen Hansmann for being awarded one of two Plural Publishing Research Awards presented in honour of the late Dr Sadanand Singh. Doreen, now a PhD student in the Department of Communication Disorders, won the research award for her project, The influence of neighbourhood density on word production in 7-year-old children. In making the award, the President of the Council of Academic programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders indicated that a record number of applications had been received, with each rated for its breadth, depth and overall quality. Doreen received one of only two awards made in 2014. The award was announced at the annual meeting of the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders in the USA in April. Doreen’s work is taking place in the Child Language Centre and is supervised by Professor Stephanie Stokes and Adjunct Associate Professor William Gavin.

Kristi Rabbitt Wins UC App CompetitionKristi

Congratulations to third-year BSLP student, Kristi Rabbitt, for winning First Prize in the final round of today’s University of Canterbury 2014 phone app competition sponsored by the Entre student club, which helps students put their business ideas to the test. Kristi is developing Childchat, a phone app designed to let parents track their preschool child’s speech, language and communication development. The app will provide parents with information about what develops when and offer information about who to contact in case they are concerned about their child’s speech and language development. Kristi won a MacBook Air, an iPad Air and an iPhone for coming in First. She hopes to continue developing the app and have it ready for market in early 2015. Further information please can be found at www.nzherald.co.nz/technology/news/article.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=11318383

Triton Hearing textbook presentationsj

Triton Hearing has generously provided Master of Audiology students with textbooks for the second year in a row. Simon Maskell (right) presented the paediatric audiology textbooks to students last week. The Department of Communication Disorders and the students in the Master of Audiology programme are both very grateful to Triton for their support.

Thesis-in-3 Success

Congratulations to Sarah Davies for winning the College of Science’s Thesis-in-3 competition and to Sharimila Adaikkalasamy for receiving an Honourable Mention. Sarah placed first out of 14 finalists in the College for a 3-minute talk on her PhD research examining a new diagnostic test to detect individuals with dysphagia in a hospital setting. Sharimila summarised her PhD research regarding cultural differences in what mothers believe and how they interact with their children with respect to children’s language development and language intervention programmes.

Ministry of Education Scholarships

Applications for Ministry of Education Speech Language Therapy Scholarships for 2015 will open on 1 June 2014. Further details can be found here

Speech and Hearing Clinic

We are now enrolling new clients for Hearing and/or Speech & Language services of all ages. To make an appointment please contact us on

Phone: (03) 364-2408
Fax: (03) 364 2760
Email: Clinic@cmds.canterbury.ac.nz

If you would like to find our more about our Clinic, please visit this site: University of Canterbury Speech and Hearing Clinic

Bay Audiology Clinical Prizej

Ashleigh Donald, Master of Audiology student, received the 2013 Bay Audiology Clinical Prize from Bay Audiology's Senior Human Resources Advisor, Melita Lawn and Charge Audiologist, Jonny Grady at a ceremony on 5th March 2014. Bay Audiology also gifted a textbook to each first year MAud student. The Department of Communication Disorders is very grateful to Bay Audiology for their support.

2013 Jean Seabrook Prizea

Congratulations to PhD student Anna Miles, who was awarded the 2013 Jean Seabrook Prize by the University of Canterbury. This prize is awarded to a New Zealand trained speech-language therapist who has been enrolled for a PhD at the University of Canterbury and has submitted a PhD thesis that is considered to constitute an outstanding research project concerned with neurological aspects of communication disorders in the New Zealand population.

Swallowing grant success

Dr. Maggie-Lee Huckabee and collaborators Phd student Kirsten Lamvik, Assoc. Prof. Richard Jones and clinical colleagues have been awarded a Neurological Foundation Project Grant of $82,650. The project will examine the mpreviously unexplored phenomenon of mis-sequencing of pharyngeal pressure during swallowing in people with neurological injury.  Patients with this type of deficit are unable to coordinate streamlined food or liquid transfer from the pharynx into the oesophagus, are unable to eat food safely, and very importantly may be receiving ineffective or even contraindicated rehabilitation.  The aim of this study is to identify specific patient groups who exhibit pharyngeal mis-sequencing, and to explore the patterns of development. Results from this study will assist clinicians in selecting appropriate diagnostic tools  and rehabilitation strategies for dysphagic patients.  Dr Huckabee and colleagues have, through this research, established collaboration with clinical researchers from Singapore General Hospital as a satellite data collection site.

mlhbDysphagia Following Stroke: Second Edition 

Dr Maggie-Lee Huckabee and co-author Dr Stephanie Daniels have published a second edition of their very popular book on the clinical assessment and management of dysphagia following stroke.

klCommunication Disorders student wins awards at the 2013 UC Postgraduate Showcase   

PhD student, Kristin Lamvik was joint winner in the Overall Presenter category and tied for 1st place in the PhD Category. Her topic was ‘Pharyngeal Mis-sequencing in Dysphagic Patients with Neurologic Impairment’

Recent research grant success 

Three Communication Disorders researchers have recently been awarded research grants. Associate Professor Megan McAuliffe and Dr Don Sinex were awarded $543,478 by the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Marsden Fund for a 3-year study to examine how listeners comprehend distorted speech. Dr Maggie-Lee Huckabee was awarded $22,688 by the NZ Dental Association, for a study to examine the relationships between oral bacteria, the protective cough reflex and pneumonia in patients with stroke and swallowing impairment.

ebStudent Receives Award

Former BSLP(Hons) student Eleanor Barclay holds her certificate she received from the UK Tavistock Trust for Aphasia, for her 2012 Honour’s thesis entitled, ‘Family members of people with aphasia and their rehabilitation goals in relation to information’.

 Supervisor of the Year Award 

Congratulations to Assoc Prof Richard Jones for winning the university's prestigious Supervisor of the Year award from the University of Canterbury Students' Association on Friday. Richard has appointments in the Departments of Communication Disorders, Psychology, and Electrical and Computer Engineering and has supervised numerous Master's and PhD students in swallowing and dysphagia over the years with Dr Maggie-Lee Huckabee. He is also Director of the Christchurch Neurotechnology Research Programme.

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