Our Goals

The study’s primary goal is to understand how communication features associated with autism and fragile X syndrome are shaped by genetic and physiological factors. Our work often adopts a family approach, where we study both children affected by neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as their parents.

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Our Team

Our team is comprised of a wonderful, interdisciplinary team of undergraduate and graduate student research assistants who contribute to this research. The team is directed by Dr. Jessica Klusek. Interested in joining our team? We are currently recruiting PhD students, post-docs, and undergraduate students interested in becoming involved.


Our Lab

Our research facilities are located on the campus of the University of South Carolina in the Montgomery Speech and Hearing Clinic at 1705 College Street. Visitors can park in the Close-Hipp parking garage on Henderson Street. We are conveniently located within walking distance to Columbia’s Five Points district, home to a number of local eateries and shopping.

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Jessica Klusek

PhD CCC-SLP

Dr. Jessica Klusek is an Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Klusek received her PhD in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She followed her doctoral training with an NIH-funded postdoctoral fellowship in Psychology at the University of South Carolina, where she completed interdisciplinary training in physiology, psychology, and genetics. Dr. Klusek is also a certified, licensed speech-language pathologist.

Laura Friedman

Ph.D. CCC-SLP

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Laura Friedman is a postdoctoral fellow in the SC Family Experiences Lab. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she worked with adolescents with autism spectrum disorder and fragile X syndrome. During her doctoral studies, Dr. Friedman worked with families of children with autism spectrum disorder as a certified speech-language pathologist in a pediatric private practice. Dr. Friedman’s research interests include characterizing the language skills of adolescents and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as examining the broader impact of language on later adulthood outcomes, including friendship development, employment, and self-advocacy skills.

Laura
Katherine Bangert

Katherine Bangert

Ph.D. CCC-SLP

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Katherine Bangert is a postdoctoral fellow in the SC Family Experiences Lab and the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Lab at UofSC. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in 2020, and is a licensed speech language pathologist. Dr. Bangert worked as an SLP in a school setting for two years before pursuing her Ph.D. Her research focus includes language development in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and the relationship between language and physiological regulation.

Carly Moser

Ph.D. Student

Carly is a doctoral student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program at the University of South Carolina. She completed her BA in Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina in 2016. Upon graduating, she joined the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Lab working as a research specialist, conducting assessments with children with developmental disorders. Her current research interests include exploring factors contributing to the variability in developmental outcomes in those with autism spectrum disorder and fragile X syndrome.

Carly Moser

Jillian Gierman

Graduate Assistant

Jillian is currently pursuing her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at USC. She attended the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a minor in Speech and Hearing Sciences in May 2018. Upon graduating, Jillian worked at the UNC Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, where she was a research specialist for an NIH-funded study on aging, disability, and long-term care. Jillian continued her work in research, joining our lab as the research specialist in 2019. She has a particular interest in neurological disorders, such as dementia, traumatic brain injury, and Parkinson’s disease.

Eve Guiney

Graduate Assistant

Eve is from Charlotte, NC and is currently a first-year in the Speech-Language Pathology Master’s program at the University of South Carolina. She works as a Graduate Assistant in the lab where her primary roles are data scoring and data entry. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders with minors in Psychology and Special Education from Appalachian State University in May 2020. When she graduates, she is interested in working with adults with neurogenic disorders.

Alexandra Hickey

Research Specialist

Alexandra graduated in 2019 from the University of Maryland, where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. She has previously worked in the Developmental Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, assisting in research on social interaction in children and adolescents. In the future, she hopes to work towards a PhD in Clinical Psychology and focus her research on adults with neurological disorders.

Emma Grace Cornell

Graduate Assistant

Emma Grace is a graduate student from Greenville, South Carolina pursuing her masters degree in speech-language pathology.  She graduated from the University of South Carolina in December of 2020 with a degree in Public Health and a minor in Business Administration. Emma Grace has worked in the Family Experiences Lab for four years.

Emma Grace Cornell

Haley Wilson

Graduate Student

Haley is from Walterboro, South Carolina and is in her first-year of the Speech-Language Pathology Master’s Program at UofSC. She also completed her undergraduate career there in December of 2020, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a minor in Psychology. In the future, Haley has an interest in working in pediatric feeding and swallowing.

Molly Pumphrey

Graduate Student

Molly is a first-year graduate student in the Speech-Language Pathology Master’s program at the University of South Carolina. She graduated from the University of Alabama in December 2020, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communicative Disorders with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. In the future, Molly is interested in working with adults with neurogenic communication disorders.

Molly Pumphrey
Amanda Abdow

Amanda Abdow

Undergraduate

Amanda is a senior from Bethesda, Maryland set to graduate in May with a degree in Biological Science, on the pre-med track. After graduation, she plans on taking a gap year working in the medical field while also applying to medical school to work towards a career as a physician.

Brooke Anderson

Undergraduate

Brooke is a sophomore in the Arnold School of Public Health, pursuing a B.S. in Exercise Science. She is originally from a south suburb of Chicago, Tinley Park, Illinois. Brooke aspires to have a career in healthcare, supporting and empowering others to make informed decisions about their health

Brooke Anderson
Ainsley Bradberry

Ainsley Bradberry

Undergraduate

Ainsley is a sophomore Biochemistry and Economics double major from Cleveland, Ohio. In the future she plans on going to medial school or getting a master’s degree in public health

Abbie Broadhead

Undergraduate

Abbie is a sophomore pursuing a degree in Psychology with a minor in Biology on the Pre-Med track. Her hometown is right outside of Philadelphia in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, she plans to attend medical school and pursue a career in pediatrics.

Abbie Broadhead
Bailey Clark

Bailey Clark

Undergraduate

Bailey is a senior Chemistry major and Neuroscience minor from Florence, SC. She hopes to pursue a PhD in Chemical Neuroscience, focusing on the development of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications to minimize the side effects experienced by patients, as well as study the synaptic pathways that contribute to mental illness in adolescents and young adults.

Mary Alden Cooper

Undergraduate

Mary Alden Cooper is a Junior Biological Sciences major and Spanish minor in the Honors College from Beaufort, South Carolina. She is on a pre-med track and hopes to attend medical school after graduation from UofSC in pursuit of her dream to one day practice medicine in the Lowcountry, which she calls home.

Mary Alden Cooper

Mary Huth

Mary Huth

Undergraduate

Mary is a junior from Columbia, South Carolina pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Health with a minor in Linguistics. After graduation, Mary plans to obtain her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and hopes to work with children who have developmental disabilities.

Kathryn Klein

Undergraduate

Katie is a junior from Dunlap, Illinois currently enrolled in the University of South Carolina Honors College. She is and is pursuing a degree with majors in Biological Sciences and Experimental Psychology, as well as a minor in Spanish. She plans to attend medical school and work towards a career as a physician following her graduation in 2023.

Molly Levin

Molly Levin

Undergraduate

Molly is a senior born and raised in Dunwoody, GA. She is a Public Health major and plans to attend graduate school to pursue a career in speech pathology.

Aneri Patel

Undergraduate

Aneri is a junior from North Augusta pursuing an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Medical Humanities and Culture on pre-med track. After graduation, Aneri plans on attending medical school and pursuing a career as a physician.

Aneri Patel

Vidhi Patel

Vidhi Patel

Undergraduate

Vidhi is a sophomore from Myrtle Beach, SC. She is majoring in Biological Sciences with a minor in Psychology. After graduation, Vidhi plans on attending medical school to pursue a career as a physician.

Maria Striebich

Undergraduate

Maria is a senior in the Honors College from Cincinnati, Ohio majoring in biological sciences, with minors in Psychology and Spanish. She recently received an Honors College Exploration Grant for her work in the lab.  After graduation, Maria plans to attend graduate school to become a genetic counselor.

Maria Striebich