Research Overview


At Lamar University, we are uniquely situated to generate innovative research that is responsive to current healthcare and educational needs and relevant to clinical SLPs and AUDs. By applying new models of rapid, responsive, relational research and translational research, the faculty and graduate students at Lamar University are leaders in moving the clinical science of the SPHS field forward. Application of such models meets the needs of large populations while addressing unique client experiences. Further, contemporary theories for treatment protocols in speech-language pathology and audiology are advanced.

A theme through the research endeavors at Lamar University is to engage all stakeholders in the research process and develop ongoing relationships between healthcare providers, educators, and clients. The SPHS Department has an established reputation in the region which enables access and engagement between healthcare providers, educators, and clients. Moreover, beyond our regional relationships we have extensive national and international relationships. Our faculty have active collaborations with researchers from over 10 countries across the globe.

The following labs exemplify our mission.

Digital Interventions Laboratory (SPHS Faculty Collaboration)

SPHS faculty are leading research teams organized to examine digital technologies and consumer health informatics in the care and management of health and disability. The SPHS Department was awarded funding ($300,000 across 3 years) through the Presidential Visionary Grant at Lamar University to launch this line of inquiry.

Three digital interventions resulted from this initiative.

1. Tackling Tinnitus: Team Leader - Dr. Vinaya Manachaiah

2. Success with Stories: Team Leader - Dr. Monica L. Bellon-Harn and Dr. Lekeitha Morris

3. Conversation Connection: Team Leader - Dr. Jamie Azios

4. iVoice: Team Leader - Ms. Abigail Dueppen

Research dedicated to the understanding of consumer health informatics in SPHS are on- going. Recent publications include:

Bellon-Harn, M., Manchaiah, V., & Sashikanth, S. (in press). A Content Analysis of YouTube Videos Related to children with speech and language disorders. Journal of Consumer Health Information.

*Bellon-Harn, M., Ulep, A., Manchaiah, V., & Dueppen, A. (online version). Voice Online: A cross-sectional study of the portrayal of voice disorders in YouTube videos. Perspectives.

*Bellon-Harn, M., Manchaiah, V., & Kunda, K. (online version). Quality, readability and suitability of English-language Internet information about children with speech and language disorders. Digital Health Journal.

Manchaiah, V., Kelly-Campbell, R., Bellon-Harn, M., & Buekes, E. (online version). Quality, readability and suitability of hearing health related materials: A descriptive review. American Journal of Audiology.

Bellon-Harn, Ni, J., & Manchaiah, V. (online version). Twitter usage about Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism.

*Manchaiah, V., Bellon-Harn, M., Godina, I., & Beukes, E. (online version). Portrayal of hearing loss in YouTube videos: An exploratory cross-sectional analysis. American Journal of Audiology.

Ni, J, Bellon-Harn, M., Zhang, J., Li, Y., & Manchaiah, V. (online version). Twitter usage using common reference to tinnitus. American Journal of Audiology.

Manchaiah, V., Bellon-Harn, M., Kelly-Campbell, R., Buekes, E., Bailey, A., & Pyykkő, Ilmari. (online version). Media use by older adults with hearing loss: An exploratory survey. American Journal of Audiology.

*Manchaiah, V., Bellon-Harn, M., Michaels, M., & Buekes, E. (online version). A Content Analysis of YouTube Videos Related to Hearing Aids. American Journal of Audiology.

Bellon-Harn, M., Manchaiah, V., & Morris, L. (2020). Autism Online: A cross-sectional study of the portrayal of Autism Spectrum Disorders in YouTube videos. Autism, 24(1), 263-268.

Dueppen, A., Bellon-Harn, M., & Manchaiah, V. (2019). Suitability of English language Internet-based information for voice disorders. Journal of Voice, online version.

Azios, J. H., Bellon-Harn, M., Dockens, A. L., & Manchaiah, V. (2019). Quality and readability of English-language internet information for aphasia. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 21(1), 1-9.

Dueppen, A., Bellon-Harn, M., Radhakrishnan, N., & Manchaiah, V. (2019). Quality and readability of Internet-based information for voice disorders. Journal of Voice, 33(3), 290-296.

* Bellon-Harn, M. L., Smith, D. J., Dockens, A. L., Manchaiah, V., & Azios, J. H. (2018). Quantity, quality, and readability of online information for college students with ASD seeking student support services. Reading Improvement, 55(1).

Manchaiah, V., Dockens, A., Flagge, A., Bellon-Harn, M., Azios, J., Kelly-Campbell, R. & Andersson, G. (2018). Quality and readability of English-language Internet information for tinnitus. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 30(1), 31-40.

Social ACCESS Lab (Dr. Karen Whisenhunt Saar)

The focus of the social ACCESS lab is to promote life participation and support social engagement for individuals with communication disorders. Key values guiding this socially centered work at all levels include Acceptance, Community, Connection, Education, Service, and Support.

The goals for Social ACCESS Lab programs are to increase 1) access to social infrastructure for disempowered communicators through a combination of socially geared clinical programming, 2) support for communicative success, 3) advocacy and education to promote inclusion practices, 4) education of future clinicians, and 5) research inquiry related to these clinical and educational practices.

Director: Karen Whisenhunt Saar, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Assistant Professor of Speech-Language Pathology


Current clinical programming associated with the Social ACCESS Lab:

  • interACT: summer inclusion theatre partnership with Beaumont Community Players 
  • Cognitive Stimulation Therapy: group services for individuals living with dementia offered within the LU SLP clinic

For information related to clinic program enrollment, contact the Speech-Language Pathology clinic at (409) 880-8171

Audiology Economics and Rehabilitative Outcomes (AERO) Laboratory (Dr. Anna Jilla)

Mission: Develop high-quality evidence and training opportunities for professionals and students in four core areas—population health, health economics, healthcare policy, and care models—to address disparities and inadequacies in hearing and balance care

Vision: Engage community, regional, and national stakeholders in developing interventions and influencing health policy for adults with hearing and balance disorders

Director: Anna M. Jilla is the Jo Mayo Endowed Assistant Professor of Audiology in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, College of Fine Arts and Communication. Her research area is in health economics and outcomes research focusing on healthy aging and independence through improved hearing and balance functioning and care pathways for older adults. We will examine social determinants of health and impacts of these characteristics on audiologic care and outcomes. We then plan to translate this information into development of targeted interventions for older adult populations.

Integrated Language Treatment Lab (Dr. Monica Bellon-Harn)

The primary goal of this lab is to develop treatment approaches and clinical strategies to target multiple domains of language simultaneously with children with language and phonological disorders. Hypotheses are guided by theories that conceptualize communicative behavior as a dynamic system with interaction and interdependencies across component domains. Research conducted in this lab specifically focuses on: (1) developing operational treatment protocols; (2) examining treatments via single-subject and group comparisons research designs; (3) understanding factors related to treatment intensity; and (4) examining treatments in the public-school milieu.

Vestibular Assessment and Rehabilitation Lab (Dr. Lilian Felipe)

The primary goals of this lab include (1) to provide of clinical services in the assessment of balance and dizziness; (2) to conduct research in vestibular physiology in both health and pathology; and (3) to improve balance and treat vestibular disorders.

Hearing Healthcare Lab (Dr. Ashley L. Dockens)

The primary goal of this lab is to promote a patient-centered approach to hearing healthcare services. Multiple domains of hearing healthcare are targeted, with hypotheses guided by theories that support a functional, biopsychosocial view of rehabilitative hearing care. Research conducted in this lab specifically focus on: (1) Patient-centeredness in communication sciences and disorders; (2) Patient-Professional interactions; (3) Re-emergence of aural rehabilitation in the profession; (4) Accessibility and patient comprehension of education materials; and (5) Student training in rehabilitative hearing healthcare.

Voice Lab and Vocology Clinic (Ms. Abigail Dueppen)

This lab functions to satisfy goals in the areas of teaching, research, student training, and community service. The aims of this lab are to study human voice production, assess measures of voice produced by patients and implement treatment strategies, explore vocal parameters of professional voice users such as singers and actors, design programs towards prevention of voice disorders and enhancement of voice in clients to meet the vocal demands they face in their daily life. The state-of-the-art equipment in this lab enables students both within the department and across campus learn vocal arts and science and evaluation of disorders.

Cochlear Implant Lab (Dr. Lilian Felipe)

This lab develops custom research interfaces to investigate the perception of different sounds by cochlear implant users. The overall goal is to determine whether auditory processes not currently incorporated in cochlear implants (such as adaptation) can provide a more natural hearing experience through the implant. Another important issue is how to facilitate the understanding of speech in background noises, which is presently a serious problem for cochlear implant users.

Human Auditory Evoked Potential Lab (Dr. Lilian Felipe)

This lab is equipped with instrumentation necessary to record and analyze a wide range of auditory-evoked potentials from human subjects. The general goal of most of the experiments conducted in this laboratory is to evaluate the extent to which these evoked potential measures can be used to predict performance on a range of different listening tasks and diverse disorders and pathologies.

The EMPOWER Lab (Dr. Lekeitha R. Morris)

The goal of The EMPOWER Lab is to produce research that transforms the lives of families and students we aim to serve. The work in the lab focuses on language development and disorders, caregiver training and prevention models with a specific focus on culturally and linguistically diverse populations, and advising, recruiting, and retaining minority students into the fields of speech-language pathology and audiology.   Various projects address language enrichment and prevention through caregiver training and community-based language enrichment opportunities. EMPOWER is also dedicated to work that focuses on increasing the number of African-American SLPs and audiologists. We are engaged in work that examines the processes of advising, recruiting, and retaining minority students into the fields of speech-language pathology and audiology. Additionally, this work examines factors related to challenges of being a first-generation college student and other factors (i.e. sense of belonging, microaggressions, etc.) faced by many Black students attending majority institutions.   

Purpose of the work done in The EMPOWER Lab is to promote:  

Early intervention services related to primary and secondary prevention  

Mentoring students in an effort to increase the number of African-Americans in the professions 

Progression toward a profession that truly values diversity in action and representation

Outreach into the community to ensure partnerships are equal and beneficial beyond data collection  

Work that respects and values the individuals impacted by the research. Work of The EMPOWER Lab strives to celebrate Black students and caregivers highlighting their WORTHINESS and right to be treated equitably.   

Enriching the opportunities of marginalized children and families through advocacy and education of the oppressor   

Research in the areas of prevention, advising, recruiting, and retaining minority students into the fields of speech-language pathology and audiology