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.Participate ->
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 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.Get directions ->
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jennifer received her Bachelors of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Brain and Behavioral Sciences in May 2022 at Purdue University. Her past experiences include aiding in the Sleep & Developmental Studies Laboratory (P.I. Dr A J Schwichtenberg) and the ESDI Lab (P.I. Dr. Jessica Bradshaw). She is passionate about helping families, believes research to be a crucial part in helping individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, and wishes to further contribute to the scientific field.
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.
Laurel graduated in 2018 with a degree in English literature from Louisiana State University. After working for a time in the editorial field, she found her love for speech-language pathology and she is in her first year of the speech-language pathology program here at UofSC. She is interested in pediatrics, with a specific focus on feeding and medically complex individuals and has been enjoying her time working in the family experiences lab!
Molly is a second-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.
Nadia Sabeh Ayon
Nadia is a first-year graduate student in the Speech and Language Pathology Masters Program (MS-RES) at the University of South Carolina. In 2019, Nadia graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from the Saint-Joseph University of Beirut, Lebanon. She recently joined the Family Experiences Lab and is very excited to be an active member of the team.
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.
Aneri is a senior majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Medical Humanities and Culture. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, she plans to attend medical school and pursue a career as a physician. She is currently working on a project, which she was awarded a Magellan, titled “Distinguish between Mild Cognitive Impairment and Cognitively Healthy Aging by employing several metrics.”
Barret is a junior pursuing a degree in Public Health with a minor in Nutrition and Food Systems. His hometown is in North Augusta, South Carolina. After graduating, he plans to attend medical school and pursue a career in surgery.
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.
Reet is a senior at the University of South Carolina’s Honors College majoring in anthropology and double minoring in Spanish and Biology.
Samantha is a senior from Long Island, New York. She is pursuing a bachelor’s in Biological Sciences on the Pre-Med track. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, she plans to attend medical school.
Katherine Bangert – Now an Assistant Professor at University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Jillian Gierman – Now works in California as a HS SLHP