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Director: James Coyle, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, ASHA Fellow

Jim Coyle is a Board-Certified Specialist in Swallowing Disorders. He teaches courses in the Master's program in SLP and PhD programs, and supervises undergraduate (BPhil) and graduate (MS, PhD) student dysphagia research. Dr. Coyle evaluates patients and teaches clinical practicum in UPMC hospitals (adult diagnostics) and is funded by the NIH to investigate the use of technology and signal processing in the screening and treatment of dysphagia. With over forty publications to date, his entire research team is working toward extending dysphagia diagnostic services to underserved areas, and increasing dysphagia diagnostic and screening accuracy. Other research includes the effects of exercise in relating dysphagia caused by radiation therapy for head and neck cancer, and investigation of brain networks related to swallowing function. He's a Fellow of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association and received the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2016.

 

Graduate Students

Mandy Mahoney, MA-SLP

Mandy Mahoney is a 5th year Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders working in Dr. Coyle's Computational Deglutition Lab. She received a BA in Psychology and worked in Development Psychology research before completing a post-baccalaureate program in CSD and an MA in Speech-Language Pathology. Her primary research interest is in infant dysphagia, though higher education pedagogy is a close second. She also works part-time as a speech-language pathologist treating adolescents with executive functioning needs. In her spare 10 minutes a week, Mandy enjoys time with her two girls and fluffy cats.

Erin Lucatorto, MA CCC-SLP

Erin Lucatorto is a speech-language pathologist and 3rd year PhD student in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders at the University of Pittsburgh. She earned her BA in Nutritional Sciences from Penn State University before working and training in several research labs. Erin completed a post-baccalaureate program in Communication Science and Disorders and earned an MA in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015. Erin’s primary research interests are in computational analysis of swallowing and swallowing disorders in organ transplant and cardiothoracic surgery patient populations and implementation science.

Emma Becker, MA SLP Student

Emma Baker is a second-year graduate student in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders at the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated with a BA in Communication Science and Disorders in April 2020 and will graduate this spring with an MA in Speech-Language Pathology, both from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been in the lab for 3 years now, working on various projects. Current research interests include UES functioning in stroke patients, non-invasive instrumental swallow screenings, and feeding strategies in infants after cardiac procedures. Outside of the lab, Emma enjoys choreographing and dancing with local Pittsburgh groups, as well as exploring the city to find the best spots for Thai food.

Mary Gentile, MA SLP Student

Mary Gentile is a 2nd year SLP graduate student at Pitt. She is interested in swallowing and dysphagia and is interested in pursuing a career in medical speech-language pathology. A fun fact about her is that she can name all 50 states in under 10 seconds!

 

Maya Balachander, MA SLP Student

Maya is a first-year graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Pitt. She has a strong interest in working with patients with swallowing difficulties. She is originally from Illinois and is excited to continue to explore Pittsburgh! One interesting fact about her is that she and her siblings all share the same birthday!
 

Emma Daly, MA SLP Student

Emma is a first-year graduate student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department at the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated with a bachelor’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Vermont in 2021. Her primary interests include pediatric and adult feeding and swallowing disorders.
 

Kelly Piserchia, MA SLP Student

Kelly is a first-year master’s student in Speech Language Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated from Towson University with a BS in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology in 2021. Her primary interests include pediatric feeding and swallowing diagnostics and intervention.
 

Kathleen Sharp, MA SLP Student

Kathleen is a first-year graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated from Ohio State University in 2021 with a B.A. in Speech and Hearing Sciences and minors in Linguistics and American Sign Language Studies. A student in the Clinical Concentration in Dysphagia, a primary area of interest lies in adult swallowing disorders.

 


Undergraduate Research Students

Libby Bryson is 4th year undergraduate student majoring in Communication Science & Disorders. After graduating this April, she plans on attending graduate school in the fall to get her master’s in Speech-Language Pathology. She hopes to one day be a practicing clinician and active contributor to CSD research, bridging the gap between clinicians and researchers. Her current research interests include therapeutic intervention and treatment of long-term swallowing disorders and non-invasive methods of swallow screening. As a research assistant in the Coyle lab, she has completed an independent research project under the McMurtry undergraduate research award. Her results from this study suggest that quantitative temporal and spatial swallow kinematic measures may be more sensitive to changes in swallowing than MBSImP scores. With the help of lab staff, she presented her findings at the 2021 ASHA convention! A fun fact about Libby is that she knows how to code thanks to her freshman year spent in the School of Engineering.

Delia Chartier is a senior undergraduate student studying Communication Science and Disorders. She labels UES distension videos for Dr. Coyle’s lab. She is interested in being an SLP and possibly specializing in dysphagia. A fun fact about her is that she loves to rock climb and lie in her hammock on warm and sunny days.


 

Jessica Chrissafis is originally from New Jersey and is currently a senior in the Communication Science and Disorders program at Pitt. She hopes to translate her knowledge from this lab into an SLP master's program! She is interested in swallowing disorders and hopes to explore different clinical positions including the NICU. A fun fact about Jessica is that she has a twin sister as well as younger twin brothers!



Simrita Hemrajani is a senior undergraduate majoring in Communication Science and Disorders with a certificate in American Sign Language. She plans to attend graduate school for Speech-Language Pathology after taking a gap year. Her current research interests include pediatric feeding and swallowing as well as aphasia and apraxia of speech. Outside of the lab, Simrita enjoys graphic design and Sunday brunch!


 

Logan Stecik is a senior undergraduate student majoring in Communication Science and Disorders. Her primary research interests include swallowing and feeding in babies born with a cleft lip/palate and individuals with head and neck cancer. A fun fact about Logan is that she knows sign language!