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Rising Star Award


Ph.D. students in Communication Sciences and Disorders and related fields with
• under-represented identities or perspectives, and/or
• research interests in diversity-related issues in communication sciences and disorders.

Awardee (one per year) will receive a $1,000 award and will be invited to deliver an invited lecture at Vanderbilt University Medical Center on the topic of their research on October 18, 2023.  All awardee travel and lodging expenses will be covered.

Applicants should submit their current CV and a description of their research background and current research activity (1 page). Applicants should email their materials to Robin Jones ( Application materials are due by August 1, 2023. The announcement of the awardee will occur on or before August 21, 2023.

To see the flyer, click here

2022 Rising Star Award Recipient

Congratulations to Mariah Morton on winning the 2022 Rising Star Award!

Mariah Morton is a speech-language pathologist, specializing in the assessment and treatment of voice and upper airway disorders, and she currently works part time at the UAB Voice Center. She is a third year PhD candidate in the School of Kinesiology at Auburn University being co-advised by the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. Her research interests include the intersection between exercise physiology and vocal function as well as healthcare disparities for racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse people as well as rural-living individuals in need for SLP-specific voice care. Ms. Morton’s research has been published in The Laryngoscope.

2022 Rising Star Honorable Mention Awardees

Arynn Byrd is a PhD candidate in the Hearing and Speech Sciences Program at the University of Maryland-College Park (UMD-CP). Her research interests include African American English, sentence processing, and the educational outcomes of students who speak non-mainstream dialects. Byrd currently serves as an ASHA S.T.E.P mentor and the Early Career Professional on the ASHA Government and Public Policy Board. She has published in the Journal of Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools.


Diana Lucía Abarca is a doctoral student in Communication Science and Disorders at Florida State University and practicing early intervention speech language pathologist in Tallahassee, Florida. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Central Florida. Diana uses funds of knowledge, family-centered, and culturally sustaining frameworks to understand the knowledge, skills, values, priorities, and beliefs that minoritized families bring with them when involved in early intervention. She aims to develop and evaluate equitable early intervention practices that pre-service and practicing early interventionists can use to sustain the culture of minoritized families with children with disabilities. Ms. Abarca has been published in several journals including the International Public Health Journal.


2021 Rising Star Award Recipient

Congratulations to Kimberly Crespo on winning the first Rising Star Award (2021)!

Kimberly Crespo is an F31 Predoctoral Fellow and Ph.D. Candidate in Rita Kaushanskaya’s Language Acquisition and Bilingualism Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her B.A. in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences from Kean University in Union, New Jersey.

2021 Rising Star Honorable Mention Awardees

Jasenia Hartman is a Ph.D. candidate in the Neuroscience Training Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison). Her research interests include language processing, audiovisual integration, and cochlear implants. Hartman’s dissertation is at the intersection of auditory prosthetic research and developmental psychology. She is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Science and Madison Graduate Research Scholarship. She also received the NIH-NIDCD Diversity Supplement Award, as part of a parent R01 grant aimed at improving speech outcomes in CI users.


Brandon Merritt is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Indiana University. His research focuses on gender expression and perception through voice and speech, particularly from gender-diverse speakers. He has published in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research and Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups.