SCSD Research Day

Showcasing students at School of Communication Sciences and Disorders Research Day

Deck: The School’s annual Research Day included six oral presentations and 11 poster presentations, demonstrating the diversity of research conducted by learners

M. Fernanda Alonso Arteche presents her project at the SCSD Research Day in February 2024.
M. Fernanda Alonso Arteche presents her project at the SCSD Research Day in February 2024.

On February 23, 2024, graduate research students at McGill’s School of Communication Sciences and Disorders (SCSD) shared their exciting work with faculty members and peers.

The SCSD’s Research Day included 17 presentations from doctoral and master’s research students. The diverse topics ranged from how infants respond to hearing the voices of other infants, to the intersectionality of race, culture and income on oral language and literacy practices in Black communities.

Elin Thordardottir, MSc, PhD, Professor and Graduate Program Director at the SCSD, calls the annual event, “an opportunity for students to present their work to each other, to faculty members and to the students in our clinical master’s program, the MSc (Applied) in Communications Sciences and Disorders.”

“The format this year was similar to that of a research conference, which gives the research students a chance to practice presenting their work and to receive feedback from other students and faculty members,” she says. “Another big benefit of this event is that members can become more familiar with the very varied and exciting research being done across the labs of the School.”

Grasping variety of research at the School

The oral presentations included the work of four members of the McGill Baby Lab, which is led by Linda Polka, MA, PhD, Professor at the SCSD.

Priscilla Ferronato, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Prof. Polka’s lab, presented CRAWLiSKATE, a project investigating if bilingual infants can crawl towards their mother tongue, using a skateboard specifically designed to allow free movement in newborns.

Nicola Phillips, a PhD student, presented her research on whether very young babies listen longer to sounds produced by voices like their own than adult voices.

Then, Samin Moradi, PhD student, shared her research on amplitude modulations of infant-directed speech (or baby talk) and the role of positive affect.

Observing how adults implicitly respond to the vocalizations of babies, other adults, cats and kittens was the focus of research presented by M. Fernanda Alonso Arteche, MSc, a PhD candidate.

Asked about her experience of the Research Day, Alonso Arteche says she appreciated the opportunity to hear about the research themes and methodologies that others are pursuing in the School.

“It helps you grasp the variety of research being done in the School,” she explains. She adds that chance to interact with the School’s clinical master’s students, as well as faculty who specialise in other areas of research, was an advantage.

“In research, sometimes you only get these rewarding experiences when you present at conferences or similar occasions. However, it’s great to feel this support coming from our School.”

Later, Ève-Julie Rioux, MSc, a PhD student supervised by Prof. Thordardottir, presented her project investigating the predictors of the quality of bilingual adolescents’ writing.

Peter Lam, MSc, a PhD student supervised by Marc D. Pell, PhD, James McGill Professor, then shared details of his research project on whether accent and evaluative goals modulate neural responses to polite or impolite-sounding requests.

Encouraging and welcoming environment

The oral presentations were followed by 11 poster presentations from members of the SCSD community:

  • Nariman Amantayev, MA, PhD student (supervised by Aparna Nadig, PhD, Associate Professor, and Karsten Steinhauer, PhD, Professor): Hot and cold executive functions in neurotypical and autistic adolescents
  • Stéphanie Deschamps, PhD student (supervised by Shari Baum, PhD, James McGill Professor and Vice-Dean, Research in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, and Denise Klein, PhD, Professor): Effects of early language exposure on speech category learning and speaker identification learning in international adoptees.
  • Marcos E. Dominguez Arriola, MSc, PhD student (supervised by Prof. Pell): Foreign accent modulates perception and social evaluation of critical statements.
  • Priscilla Ferronato (supervised by Prof. Polka and Prof. Pell): A platform for investigating affective communication in infants.
  • Luisa E. Hernández Melo, PhD student (supervised by Prof. Pell): The Sound of Social Support: Acoustic Markers of Care and Connection in the Human Voice.
  • Dominque Louër, MA, MASc, PhD student (supervised by Prof. Baum): Exploring Differences in Picture Description Abilities between Bilingual and Monolingual Patients with Parkinson’s Disease.
  • Angela MacDonald-Prégent, MSc, PhD student (supervised by Prof. Nadig): Using Natural Language Samples with Autistic Children with Limited Spoken Language Abilities.
  • Tanya Matthews, PhD, McGill Third Century Fellow: Intersectionality of race, culture, and income on oral language and literacy practices in the Black communities of Montreal.
  • Emilio Ruiz Alanis, master’s student (supervised by Prof. Pell): Prosody and sexual innuendo: an experimental approach to albur comprehension.
  • Zahraa Sahyoun, MA, PhD student (supervised by Prof. Thordardottir). Narrative abilities of French monolingual and English-French bilingual adolescents attending French schools in Montreal. This work also involved master’s students Ella Singh and Jessica Bohnet.
  • Jovia Wong, master’s student (supervised by Prof. Nadig): Examining persuasive discourse in neurotypical and autistic adolescents.

Emilio Ruiz Alanis, who is a visiting master’s student in neurobiology from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, says he appreciated the “encouraging environment” provided by Research Day, and came away with new ideas for his other projects.

“The people who were interested in my poster, both students and faculty, were willing to understand my topic, even when it focused on linguistic structures that are specific to Mexican Spanish,” he says. “Thanks to the feedback I received, I could express my main ideas better and explain my project in a more objective way.”

“Even though I’m not a permanent student at McGill, it was also a really welcoming space for presenting my research and progressing it,” he adds.

Prof. Thordardottir says: “We are grateful to all the students who helped to shape our Research Day, attended, presented their work and offered feedback to their colleagues this year. The array of topics shared showcases the remarkable breadth and depth of research conducted in our School, which we are deeply proud of.”

Well done to all who presented!

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