M.Sc. and Ph.D. Students

Pegah Athari


Supervisor: Dr. Susan Rvachew

Research Interest: My research interests include phonological development in normal hearing listeners and cochlear implant users, Infant-Directed Speech versus Adult- Directed Speech, and vocal imitation in infants.

Janet Bang


Supervisor: Dr. Aparna Nadig

Research Interest: My research interest is in language acquisition and development with a special interest in children with autism.

More about Janet

I am originally from San Francisco, California and I received my Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in Psychobiology with a minor in Art History. During my four years at UCLA I worked as an undergraduate researcher on projects studying emotion in patients with Schizophrenia.

After graduation, I gained experience working with children in different settings before returning to school. I spent one year as an English teacher in Seoul, South Korea and after this I worked as a staff research assistant in an autism intervention lab at UCLA. It was here that I began to develop skills in working with children with autism and their families.

I entered the doctoral program in 2010 under the supervision of Dr. Aparna Nadig. My research interests include language development in children with autism, as well as multilingual and bilingual language development. Our recent work examines how parental language influences child language in both children with autism and typically-developing children. We also explore this relationship in English-speaking and French-speaking families. I will be proposing my doctoral thesis in the coming year focusing on language development in autism.

Publications
Bang, J. , & Nadig, A. (2015). Language Learning in Autism: Maternal Linguistic Input Contributes to Later Vocabulary. Autism Research, 8(2), 214 – 233. doi: 10.1002/aur.1440
Bang, J. , & Nadig, A. (2015) Gaze versus arrows: Referential intent and word learning in children with autism spectrum disorders and typical development. Poster presented at the Child Language Symposium, Coventry, United Kingdom.
Bang, J. , Ferland, M., Nadig, A., Onishi, K. (2014, July). Ostensive Cues Help Infants Acquire Object Function. Poster presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies, Berlin, Germany.
Bang, J. , Burns, J., & Nadig, A. (2013). Conveying subjective experience in conversation: Production of mental state terms and personal narratives in individuals with high functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43(7), 1732-1740. doi: 10.1007/s10803-012-1716-4
Bang, J., & Nadig, A. (2012) A look at the input: Relationships between parental speech and child language in autism and typical development. Manuscript in progress.
Gunin, M., Bang, J., Burns, J., Nadig, A. (2012). Conveying subjective experience in conversation: Production of mental state terms and personal narratives in individuals with high functioning autism. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Awards
2010-2011: Provost Graduate Fellowship, McGill University
2006-2007: Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program, UCLA

Myrto Brandeker


Supervisor: Dr. Elin Thordardottir

Research Interest: My research interest involves bilingual language development and disorders, assessment and intervention, with focus on bilingual intervention methods and parental interaction.

Sarah Colby


Supervisor: Drs. Shari Baum and Meghan Clayards

Research Interest: My research interests include investigating the effects of normal aging on both the plasticity of the speech perception system and on spoken word recognition, specifically with regard to the integration of acoustic cues.

Karyn Fish


Supervisor: Dr. Marc Pell

Research Interest: My research interests lie in the domain of social uses of language, looking at how prosody affects the transmission and interpretation of attitudes such as sincerity.

Ana Maria Gonzalez


Supervisor: Dr. Aparna Nadig

Research Interest: My research interests focus on language acquisition, as well as on language and learning disorders in bilinguals and multilinguals.

Alexandre Herbay


Supervisor: Drs. Laura Gonnerman and Shari Baum

Research Interest: My research interests include the dynamic of language processing and its neurocognitive basis, especially at the morpho-syntactic and semantic levels. I’m currently working on verb particle construction processing by French-English bilinguals.

 

Katherine Hill


Supervisor: Dr. Laura Gonnerman

Research Interest:

Kendall Kolne


Supervisors: Drs. Laura Gonnerman and Susan Rvachew

Research Interest: My research interests include language and literacy acquisition in both monolingual and bilingual children, with a specific focus on the early predictors of reading ability.

More about Kendall

Currently, I am a PhD student in the school of Communication Sciences and Disorders at McGill University. My research interests include language and literacy development, specifically the factors which contribute to literacy deficits in children. Previously, I received my Bachelor of Science Degree in Honours Psychology (Developmental specialization), with a minor in Linguistics from McMaster University in 2009.

I continued my studies at McMaster University as a member of the inaugural class of the Cognitive Science of Language graduate program in the Department of Linguistics and Languages. This interdisciplinary program allowed me to develop a background in Linguistics, Neurolinguistics, and Cognitive Science, as well as the interface between these fields. I conducted my thesis research in the Language, Memory and Brain Lab, under the supervision of Dr. Elisabet Service. My research focused on poor reading in adolescent students, and the cognitive factors that drive the association between rapid naming ability and reading skill. I received my Masters of Science degree in 2011.

I began my doctoral studies at McGill University in September 2011, under the supervision of Dr. Laura Gonnerman and Dr. Susan Rvachew. Currently, I am collaborating with these professors on two projects related to spelling development in French, investigating the predictors of French spelling ability in early elementary school.

I am also in the process of developing my own doctoral thesis proposal. I will likely focus my project on reading development in bilingual children, comparing the predictors of reading success in monolingual children to those of this population.

Selected Awards
2011: Graduate Excellence Fellowship recipient, McGill University
2010: McMaster Graduate Scholarship, recipient, McMaster University
2009: McMaster Graduate Scholarship, recipient, McMaster University

Anna Krusanova


Supervisor: Dr. Laura Gonnerman

Research Interest: My research interests include investigating the relationship between language production and comprehension systems, as well as issues in sentence processing.

Matthew Masapollo


Supervisor: Dr. Linda Polka

Research Interest: My central research interests concern the nature and development of speech perception-production relations, and the nature of the signal properties (auditory, visual, haptic) that underlie speaker to perceiver speech communication. Within this broad area, my research focuses on the nature and development of universal and experience-dependent vowel perception biases that support our ability to extract information about native-language vowel categories from the input signal. I investigate these issues by conducting research that draws on a wide range of methodologies for articulatory and acoustic analysis of vocalic units, speech synthesis, and cross-linguistic perceptual testing of adults and infants with different behavioral paradigms and tasks. These studies provide an opportunity to examine the complex interplay between physical, biological and cognitive factors in vowel perception.

More about Matthew

Media Coverage
05/28/2015 – Smithsonian.com: The many ways baby talk gives infant brains a boost

Selected Publications
Masapollo, M., Polka, L., & Ménard, L. (In preparation). Visual influences on asymmetries in vowel perception. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics

Masapollo, M., Polka, L., & Ménard, L. (Submission imminent). Asymmetries in vowel perception: The roles of formant convergence and language experience. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Masapollo, M., Polka, L., & Ménard, L. (2015). When infants talk, infants listen: Pre-babbling infants prefer infant speech. Developmental Science, doi: 10.1111/desc.12298.

Polka, L., Masapollo, M. & Ménard, L. (2014). Who’s talking now? Infants' perception of vowels with infant vocal properties. Psychological Science. 25(7), 1448-58.

Demuth, K., Patrolia, M., Song, J.Y., & Masapollo, M. (2012). The development of articles in children’s early Spanish: Prosodic interactions between lexical and grammatical form. Linguistic interfaces and language acquisition in childhood, J. Rotham & Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes (eds.), First Language, 32, (1-2), 17-37.

 

Matthew's CV [.pdf]

Tanya Matthews


Supervisor: Dr. Susan Rvachew

Research Interest: My research interest includes childhood phonology, language and speech disorders. My current research focus is treating childhood Apraxia of speech. My clinical interest include neurological disorders in adults and early childhood language development.                        

Fatemeh Mollaei


Supervisor: Dr. Vincent Gracco

Research Interest: My research interests focus on speech motor control in healthy and brain damaged patients as well as sensorimotor and Motor Speech Disorders (MSDs) like Apraxia and Dysarthria, and influence of MSDs on degenerative diseases like Parkinson and Alzheimer's Disease.

Yondu Mori


Supervisor: Dr. Marc Pell

Research Interest: My research interests include the multi-modal cues of emotion specifically body cues, and the social and cognitive relations of pragmatic language. 

Stefanie Nickels


Supervisor: Dr. Karsten Steinhauer

Research Interest: Using ERP measures, I investigate how the human brain uses information from syntax, semantics and prosody in order to form a meaningful and coherent representation of a given sentence. More specifically, I am interested in how different people might process the same sentence in a different manner, depending on, for example, their level of language proficiency, working memory or motivation.

AJ Orena


Supervisor: Dr. Linda Polka

Research Interest: language development; the role of language experience in speech processing; speaker perception and talker identification; disfluency processing in toddlers

More about AJ

Selected Publications
Orena, A.J. & White, K.S. (2015). I forgot what that's called! Children's on-line processing of disfluencies depends on speaker knowledge. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12421

Orena, A.J., Theodore, R.M.& Polka, L. (2015). Language exposure facilitates talker learning prior to language comprehension, even in adults. Cognition, 143, 36-40. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2015.06.002

Selected Awards
2014-2017: NSERC PGS-D: Postgraduate Scholarship (Doctoral)
2013-2014: NSERC CGS-M: Canada Graduate Scholarship (Masters)
2013: CPA Certificate of Academic Excellence for outstanding Honours thesis in Canada
2011: NSERC USRA: Undergraduate Student Research Award

Marianne Paul


Supervisor: Dr. Elin Thordardottir

Research Interest: My research interests are related to the development of language tests for French and bilingual populations in particular, and on language development of normally developing children and children with language impairment in general.  

Haruka Saito


Supervisors: Drs. Shari Baum, Vincent Guacco

Research Interest: My research interest focuses on how adults learn novel articulatory movements required for production of non-native sounds.

Aruna Sudarshan


Supervisor: Dr. Shari Baum

Research Interest: My research interest concerns studying Pragmatic Language Skills with focus on Discourse Processing in Adult Neurogenic Disorders.

 

Deirdre Truesdale


Supervisor: Dr. Marc Pell

Research Interest:

 

Robert Van de Vorst


Supervisor: Dr. Vincent Gracco

Research Interest: Current research focuses on speech and non-speech (musical) sequence and sensorimotor learning in individuals who stutter.