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Valerie L. Shafer, Ph.D. (lab director, Valerie Shafer is a full Professor in the Ph.D. Program in Speech and Hearing Sciences at The Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. Her research focuses on the neurophysiological basis of speech perception. She is also interested in early identification of language disorders, and neurophysiological basis of language processing in children with autism spectrum disorders.

Graduate Students


Vikas Grover, CCC-SLP Vikas Grover is a certified Speech Language Pathologist and currently pursuing Ph.D in Speech Language and Hearing Sciences. He is interested in language acquisition, language selection and delayed acquisition of speech and language in bilingual children. He wants to learn and contribute to the research in bilingualism and child language acquisition.

Nancy Vidal Nancy S.Vidal, Ph.D. student, was born in Colombia, S.A., a fluent bilingual, with research interests in Speech Perception and its relationship to literacy, Neurophysiology of Speech and Language in the monolingual and bilingual population. My professional goals are to contribute to our research and apply what I learn to the clinical population I treat.

Jason Rosas, M.S., CCC-SLP ( received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with Honors from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Columbia University. He is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist with 10 years experience. Jason works at the Beth Israel Medical Center and has worked at Long Island University as an Adjunct Professor & Clinical Supervisor. He has had extensive field experience working with a variety of bilingual populations from early intervention to geriatric adults with specializations in bilingual language disorders, literacy development, and swallowing and feeding disorders. He has also received certification in the Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory approach to reading instruction. Jason is a matriculated student in the Ph.D. program at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York, within the program of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. He is a fourth year, Second Level student currently working in the Developmental Neurolinguistics Laboratory, directed by Dr. Valerie Shafer and formerly the Speech Acoustics Perception Laboratory, directed by Emeritus Prof. Dr. Winifred Strange. His interests are in speech perception, dyslexia, and bilingual language-learning across the life-span.


Yan Yu is a 2013 graduate of the Developmental Neurolinguistic Laboratory. She is currently a faculty member at St. John’s University. Her primary research interest pertains to the neurophysiology of speech and language processing in bilingual language development. More details at:


Emily Zane is currently a second level, fourth year PhD student in the Linguistics program at the City University of New York's Graduate Center. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In the field of linguistics, Emily is particularly interested in first language acquisition of semantics and syntax. This interest drove her to volunteer at the Developmental Neurolinguistics Lab under lab director Dr. Valerie Shafer. She has been a research assistant in this lab since June 2009. During this time, she's helped to design and run a study which compares morpho-syntactic perception/processing in typical children and adults to this perception/processing in non-verbal autistic persons. She coauthored a poster summarizing the results of this experiment which was displayed at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society's 2010 Meeting. Emily has taught and is teaching courses in linguistics at various City University of New York campuses, including Brooklyn College, The Graduate Center, and LaGuardia Community College.

Judith Iannotta ( Judith is a doctoral student in the Speech & Hearing Sciences Program at the CUNY Graduate Center. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology at Hofstra University and Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology at St. John’s University. As a clinician she has worked in hospital and school settings with children and adults who have developmental disabilities, brain injury and neurogenic disorders. Judith is an Adjunct Instructor at St. John’s University where she teaches in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. She is a member of the Developmental Neurolinguistic Lab directed by Dr. Valerie Shafer. Her research interests focus on the neurodevelopment of language for typical and clinical populations. In her free time she enjoys artistic expression in many forms including painting, pottery and writing.


Recent Graduates

Anthea Vivona, M.A.,M.Phil.,CCC-SLP Anthea Vivona is a doctoral candidate, whose research interests are in child-directed speech. Ms Vivona obtained her B.A. and M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology from St. John’s University . She has worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist for H.G. Birch Early Childhood Center since 1995. In addition, Ms Vivona is the ASHA CEU Coordinator for Birch Services, and she supervises graduate students at St. John’s University Speech & Hearing Center. Her clinical expertise is in the area of evaluation and intervention with children with PDD Spectrum Disorders.

Carol Tessel is an assistant Professor at Florida Atlantic University.
Her research involves bilingual and second language acquisition.

Karen Garrido-Nag, M.S. CCC-SLP Karen is currently a third level student working on her dissertation experiment on the affects of attention on the mismatch response of infants. Her research interests include, Autism, attention, neurophysiology and language development. Karen received her Master of Science Degree in Speech and Language Pathology from Gallaudet University and is currently working there as an Instructor.

Hia Datta I am a 2010 graduate of the Developmental Neurolinguistcs Lab and Neurolinguistics Lab, having worked with co-advisors Dr. Valerie Shafer and Dr Loraine Obler. Now, I am a postdoctoral associate with Dr. Jason Zevin at the Sackler Institute of Developmental Psychobiology, at the Weill Cornell Medical Center. My research interests in general is to learn about language processing in the human brain over its lifepan. Specifically, I am interested in understanding how and which neural networks engage in learning multiple languages during infancy, childhood and adult years. In graduate school I learnt how to use event related potentials to understand neurophysiological mechanisms of language, and currently I am learning other methods such as fRMI and mousetracking to explore the same.

Monica Palmieri Wagner, MA CCC My primary research interest pertains to speech processing in the cortex, specifically sound and word processing. As a speech and language pathologist, I am interested in the normal development of speech and language. Only through further understanding of the basic process in normal development can we begin to understand the underlying cause(s) of specific language impairment. I believe there is an essential need for researchers interested in speech and language processing to have an in-depth knowledge of auditory processing in the cortex. At this time, only through the study of animal research in addition to human research can we gain an understanding of the complicated issues involved in processing in auditory cortical networks. Currently I am working on a research project that compares sound processing in two groups (monolingual English listeners and native Polish listeners) having different native language experience. The goal is to learn the effects of the native language experience on the perception of legal and illegal phonotactic structures. Also, I question whether there are categories of sounds in auditory processing. Because sounds differ in word onset and word final, the monolingual English listener in the current experiment may not perceive phonetic distinctions in word onset that they perceive in word final, demonstrating that the phoneme is not pertinent in processing. Cortical auditory processing is largely an unknown and fascinating research area. I am currently teaching Anatomy and Physiology of Speech at the undergraduate level. I hope in that endeavor, I am instilling my awe of the process of speech and language. For fun, I cook and enjoy getting people together to socialize. My husband has his dream Harley and taking road trips with him has become an unexpected hobby of mine.

Miwako Hisagi I am Miwako Hisagi. My hometown is Tokyo in Japan. I graduated in 1999 from George Mason University (VA) with an M.A. in English (Linguistics) and a graduate certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL). I taught for four years in the Japanese immersion program for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia (full-time). I also taught Japanese at the College of William and Mary (VA) for two years and at Case Western Reserve University (OH) for a year as an Instructor of Japanese language (full-time). I joined to PhD program at CUNY (Speech and Hearing) in the fall of 2002. I am currently teaching an undergraduate course in Acoustic Phonetics at Lehman College, CUNY this semester. I also taught a graduate course in Research Seminar at Adelphi University last semester. My main areas of interest are cross-linguistic speech production and perception and ERPs study in speech perception. My dissertation title is: Perception of Japanese Temporally-cued Phonetic Contrasts by Japanese American English Listeners: Behavioral and Electrophysiological Measures. I am also involved in Dr. Winifred Strange’s Speech Acoustic and Perception Lab (SAPL) as well. I also join Dr. Loraine K. Obler’s Neurolinguistics Lab since I am interested in bilingualism and brain research as well.

Michelle MacRoy-Higgins, M.S. CCC-SLP, TSHH ( Hi, I am Michelle MacRoy-Higgins and I am a doctoral student in the Speech and Hearing Sciences department. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the State University of New York College at Geneseo and my Master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY. At Adelphi University, I assisted Dr. Lawrence Raphael and Dr. Florence Myers in research examining the acoustic and perceptual differences in speakers who clutter compared with normal speakers. I received my Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology after completing my Clinical Fellowship Year at Heart Share First Step Preschool, in Richmond Hill, NY. I worked clinically for several years in the Early Intervention/preschool population and I currently work as an Instructor and Clinical Supervisor at Hunter College in the Communication Sciences department. I am currently working on my dissertation which is examining the storage of phonological forms in children who are late talkers. My interests include typical and atypical language and phonological acquisition and Autistic spectrum disorders.

Yael Neumann Hi! My name is Yael Neumann. I am a doctoral student in the Speech and Hearing Sciences department at the Graduate Center-CUNY. My general research focus is in the area of neurogenics with a primary concentration in lexical access for production. Currently, I am working on my dissertation project entitled: "The Brain Bases of Word Finding Problems in Healthy Younger and Older Adults". A common complaint among healthy older adults is the increased frequency of word-finding problems. Research points to breakdowns in phonological processing. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of age on specific phonological substages of processing, namely, sound segments and syllables. An implicit naming task with event-related potentials is being used. Results will have direct implications for neurocognitive remediation aimed at strengthening weakened links of processing with age. As well, findings will serve as a foundation for investigations of clinical populations, e.g. aphasia, apraxia, etc. with difficulties in lexical retrieval for speech production. Additionally, I've been involved in two other projects: 1) an electrophysiology project with Dr. Valerie Shafer to identify how processing of regular vs. irregular verbs in sentences differs in the adult, and in both the typical and atypical developing child, and 2) a neurolinguistic study with Dr. Loraine K. Obler looking at how adults with either right or left brain-damage comprehend ‘vocal emblems’ or symbolic sounds, e.g. "Shh" for "Be quiet" and "Brr" for "It’s cold". In this project, our aim is to further neurolinguistic understanding of the representation of verbal and non-verbal sound patterns in the cerebral hemispheres. These projects are currently being written up for submission to journals. They have also been presented at various international and national conferences, e.g. The Science of Aphasia (Trieste, Italy), ASHA, and NYSSLHA. Clinically, I work as a speech-language pathologist at a Rehab Center where I assess and treat clients of all different ages with varied disorders (never gets boring!). My major clinical interests lie in aphasia, motor speech disorders, voice and fluency. Additionally, I supervise graduate students, CFY and TSSH clinicians, and teach both graduate and undergraduate neurogenically-based courses at various universities.

Margaret T. Shakibai Margaret T. Shakibai has a BA in Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology from Marymount Manhattan College, 2001, Magna Cum Laude, and a MPhil in Speech and Hearing Sciences, CUNY Graduate Center, 2004 She is currently a Doctoral Candidate in the Speech and Hearing Sciences department, CUNY Graduate Center. Her research area is "The efficacy of a training program to teach kindergarteners to detect lexical ambiguities" Research Assistant, Developmental Neurolinguistics Laboratory, CUNY Graduate Center, 2001-2005 Adjunct Professor, Brooklyn College, Research Design, 2004-2005 Adjunct Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Marymount Manhattan College, Fall 2004-present. She has a daughter, Nadia Yasmeen Shakibai, born May 5, 2006 [see photo].

Baila Tropper ( received her Bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication Sciences from Touro College and her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Brooklyn College. Baila was the recipient of the Brooklyn College Speech and Hearing Center Project Award of 2005. She currently works as a New York State licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and Teacher of the Speech and Hearing Handicapped. Additionally, she holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. Baila’s experiences as a speech-language pathologist include servicing pediatric and geriatric populations in clinical, hospital, homecare, and public and private school settings. She currently works in an outpatient clinic in Brooklyn, specializing in the treatment of childhood language impairments. Baila is a Ph.D. student in the Speech and Hearing Sciences Program at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is a recipient of the CUNY Graduate Center Science Fellowship. Baila is presently the lab manager of the Developmental Language Laboratory, directed by Dr. Richard Schwartz. Her primary research interest is language processing in children with specific language impairment. Baila is currently collaborating with researchers from the Developmental Neurolinguistics Laboratory, where she uses electrophysiological methods to examine the brain mechanisms of normal and disordered language.