In November, Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences student Molly Sifford won the School of Health Professions Dean’s Award for her abstract written for her team’s research poster at the University of Missouri’s 2018 Health Sciences Research Day.

Sifford works in Dr. Kuruvilla-Dugdale’s Neurogenic Communication Disorders research lab, where she is part of a team that looks into early detection of speech declines in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

“Our research study was inspired by the current need for more sensitive clinical speech measures used to evaluate dysarthria in Parkinson’s disease.” Sifford said,  “We aimed to determine differences in tongue speed and range of motion, two primarily impaired abilities seen in dysarthria, between healthy controls and individuals in the mild stages of Parkinson’s when word complexity progressively increased.”

Associate Dean for Research Dr. Judith Goodman said “We were impressed with the rigor with which Sifford and her team asses motor speech performance and the control of the complexity of their stimuli.”

“Being a part of this study has been such a valuable learning experience,” Sifford said, “The changes that occur during the progression of Parkinson’s Disease  can become difficult for individuals and their families. It is rewarding to know our study may potentially lead to clinical changes that would increase the quality of life for these patients.”

As part of receiving this award, Sifford was invited to present her research and poster at the reception to recognize the Dean’s Award winners.

Five college-aged women, one holding award, with Dr. Judith Goodman

Sifford (holding the award), Dr. Judith Goodman (to Sifford’s left), and part of the research team.