Valerie Shafer has a rich background in linguistics, psycholinguistics, and neurolinguistics, which facilitates her investigations in how infants and children learn to use the acoustic-phonetic properties of linguistic forms to acquire language, and how the breakdown in processing phonetic and phonological information might lead to language delays or disorders. Her studies have advanced the understanding of the neural basis of speech perception development and its relationship to language disorders. She has developed a research/teaching laboratory at the Graduate Center that houses electrophysiological equipment to carry out her research in the neurophysiology of language.
Shafer earned her Ph.D. at SUNY-Buffalo and, before coming to the Graduate Center, was a member of the faculty at Hofstra University. She was named a senior fellow at the Zukunftskolleg at the University of Constance, Germany, where she conducted research in the summer of 2012. Earlier, Shafer received a National Institute of Child Health and Development award for research using electrophysiological and behavioral techniques to examine the relationship between phonetic/phonological development in infancy and later language development in children from monolingual English and bilingual English-Spanish households. She is a member of the American Speech Language Hearing Association, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, the International Association for Study of Child Language and the Society for the Neurobiology of Language. She is also author of several book chapters and has been an invited speaker at numerous symposia and conferences.