News Updates

Read more about the latest news from Dr. Jessica Klusek and the South Carolina Family Experiences Study

Meet Veronica, Our New Research Specialist 😀

Veronica is a Columbia, SC local, and has been at the University of South Carolina as either student or staff since 2016. She graduated from the South Carolina Honors College in 2020 with a B.S. in Experimental Psychology and English, and is currently working on her M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

She is excited to be back at the SC Family Studies lab as a research specialist after having worked there as an undergraduate student, and loves learning from and working with our families!


Latest Posts:

Ph.D. Student Carly Moser Awarded Funding

Our doctoral student, Carly Moser, recently received a UofSC Support to Promote Advancement of Research and Creativity (SPARC) Graduate Research Grant that will help fund her dissertation work focused on mother-child biobehavioral synchrony in autism. If you are interested in learning more and signing up, click here!

Study implicates FMR1 in Age-related Health

Dr. Klusek, in collaboration with the Aging Brain Cohort initiative at USC published a new study linking “low normal” FMR1 CGG repeat lengths to age related health. Finding showed a relationship between lower-than-typical numbers of FMR1 CGG repeats and poorer motor function and psychological well being in healthy older adult women. This suggests that FMR1 may be an important mediator of population health.  

Click here to learn more -->

RA Spotlight 🙂

We are VERY excited to introduce to everyone our first person for our new segment: RA Spotlight!

Suebin is an undergraduate student in our lab.

You can find more information about her here ->

Q&A Segment

  • 1. How long have you been in the lab? 
    • I've been in the lab since the summer of 2022.
  • 2. What's your favorite part of being in the lab? 
    • My favorite part of being in the lab is getting to assist with interesting research while being surrounded by a friendly atmosphere. 
  • 3. What are some activities you do in your free time?
    • In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.
  • 4. What's your dream job? 
    • My dream job is to become a primary care physician in the future. 

Meet Jennifer, Our New Research Specialist

From the land of fields of corn, Jennifer has been in Indiana since 4th grade. She received her B.S. degree in Psychology from Purdue University on May 2022. Her interests align with the lab's goal to develop better family-centered support services for families of children with developmental disabilities like fragile X syndrome and autism. She is happy to join the lab and is eager to learn under Dr. Jessica Klusek!

Jennifer's Personal webpage:

She also just started her own twitter page this year. Follow her below!

Links to our latest posts:

Postdoc Laura Friedman Receives NIH Funding

Dr. Laura Friedman recently received an F32 grant from the National Institution on Aging. Her project will examine cognitive aging profiles of mothers of children with autism and will also explore caregiving-associated risk factors that may be related to atypical cognitive aging (such as stress or poor sleep quality).

Congratulations Jillian and Eve!

Two of our graduate assistants, Jillian Gierman and Eve Guiney, graduated this weekend! Both earned their Master's of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. They will be missed by all of us in the lab, and we wish them the best of luck as they launch their careers as speech-language pathologists. Both have bright futures ahead!

Dr. Klusek with Jillian Gierman, M.S.
Eve Guiney, M.S. and Dr. Klusek

Students present research at Discover UofSC!

Undergraduate students Katie Klein, Abbie Broadhead, Reet Verma, Ainsley Bradbury, and Maria Striebich represented our lab at Discover UofSC. This local conference showcases research, scholarship, leadership and creative projects by undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral scholars and medical scholars representing the entire UofSC System. Special congratulations to Katie, who received first place!

Kathryn (Katie) Klein, first place winner, with her poster "Verbal Fluency and the Broad Autism Phenotype"
Students Reet Verma (left) with poster, "Anxiety and Sensory Responsivity Examined in Adolescents and Adults with FXS through an Auditory Startle Probe", and Ainsley Bradbury (right), "Speech and Language Disfluencies in Mothers of Children with Autism or FXS Across Communicative Contexts".
Maria Striebich presenting "Speech Production and Monitoring in Mothers with the Fragile X Premutation".
Abigail (Abbie) Broadhead presenting her research, "Correlation between with Broad Autism Phenotype Feature of Aloofness and Maternal Depression and Social Anxiety".

Congratulations Katie, Reet, Ainsley, Maria, and Abbie! We are proud of your work!

Recent study highlights the importance of family-centered intervention practices

Doctoral student in our lab, Carly Moser, explored factors related to the quality of social interactions between mothers and their sons with fragile X syndrome. The quality of mother-child interaction plays a key role in child development and may be especially important for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Results indicated that the maternal pragmatic language was associated with mother-youth synchrony. Check out her publication here!

Study contributes a new description of the clinical presentation of cluttering in men with FXS

Our postdoc, Dr. Katie Bangert, recently published a study investigating the speech of young men with fragile X syndrome (FXS). Half of the participants with FXS exhibited cluttering, a fluency disorder that involves rapid, unclear and/or disorganized speech. This suggests FXS as a genetic diagnosis is highly enriched for cluttering. The study may lead to improved understanding of the potential underlying mechanisms of cluttering and eventual refinements to treatment and diagnosis. Check out the article here!

Congrats, Laura!

Our postdoc, Dr. Laura Friedman, recently received an ASPIRE grant from UofSC’s Office of the Vice President for Research to explore the experiences of autistic adults and their families. If you’re interested in learning more and signing up, click here!


Summer Intern Highlight!


Check out this article highlighting the internship recent college graduate Ashley Kunkle completed in our lab. We are so excited to read about how her internship inspired her to pursue a career in medicine. Best of luck in your future endeavors, Ashley!

Carly Moser awarded Scholarship

Carly Moser

Doctoral student, Carly Moser, was awarded the UofSC Maternal and Child Health Graduate Scholarship. With the award, she is funded to study maternal and child physiological factors related to social and developmental outcomes of children with autism. Congratulations, Carly! 

Study finds subtle pragmatic language features may be a risk factor that contributes to reduced health and well-being in mothers of children with FXS and ASD.

Check out Dr. Klusek’s recent publication which found that pragmatic language was associated with loneliness in mothers of children with ASD and decreased life satisfaction, depression, and poorer family relationships in mothers of children with FXS. This study informs tailored support services to meet the unique needs of families of children with ASD or FXS.

Fragile X Awareness Day 2021 – This week!

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has declared Thursday, July 22, 2021 as Fragile X Awareness Day to raise awareness about the disorder and encourage continued research.

Going Virtual!

Going Virtual

In response to COVID-19, our team has been working hard to redesign the way we do studies to maximize safety. Assessments will now be conducted virtually across two short sessions. Participants can schedule the sessions at a time that is convenient for them, and participate in research from the comfort of their own homes! We are very excited to resume our studies and continue our contributions to fragile X and autism research! Thank you for your support!

To schedule your virtual session or request additional information about our ongoing studies, contact us at

Dr. Jessica Klusek wins NIH award

Jessica Klusek wins NIH award

Dr. Jessica Klusek has been awarded $149,000 from the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. She will use the two-year grant to examine aging language trajectories for women who are carriers of the FMR1 premutation.

Communication Sciences and Disorders Department cuts ribbon on new space

Communication Sciences and Disorders Department cuts ribbon on new space

Our department hosted a grand opening to celebrate our move into a beautiful new space. COMD's new home in the Close-Hipp building allows the entire department, including students, faculty, administration, and researchers to collaborate and work alongside one another in a centralized location. The move has provided our research lab with a brand new work space, waiting areas for research participants, and research testing rooms. We can’t wait to use these new facilities to make our participants feel even more at home when they come to see us!

Fragile X Awareness Day

Fragile X Awareness Day

Dr. Klusek, along with Dr. Jane Roberts and other stakeholders and advocates, gathered in the South Carolina state capitol to share their individual experiences with fragile X syndrome in honor of July 22, 2018 being proclaimed Fragile X Awareness Day.  This governor’s proclamation of the inaugural South Carolina Fragile X Awareness Day was an important step in raising awareness for fragile X syndrome in South Carolina! 

New Fragile X Study

New Fragile X Study

A new fragile X study has been funded! Dr. Jessica Klusek’s lab at the University of South Carolina will take part in a multi-site study funded by the National Institutes of HealthA $3.1 million research grant has been awarded from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. The study is led by Dr. Len Abbeduto of the MIND institute at University of California Davis, with sites at Vanderbilt University led by Dr. Julie Lounds Taylor and University of South Carolina led by Dr. Jessica Klusek. The focus of this longitudinal study is to understand the interaction between language and capacity for independent functioning during the transition into adulthood in individuals with fragile X syndrome.  Dr. Klusek is currently recruiting individuals with fragile X syndrome who are in their final year of high school. Recruitment is nationwide, with travel expenses paid by the grant. For more information, please contact Dr. Klusek’s lab

Lyndsay Schmitt featured

lyndsay schmitt featured

Lyndsay Schmitt, a graduate assistant in our lab, was chosen to be featured as a "I Am Public Health" highlight for the Arnold School of Public Health. Lyndsay is pursuing masters-level training in speech-language pathology. Congratulations on your accomplishments, Lyndsay!

Sydney Burrell awarded Magellan Grant

Sydney Burrell awarded Magellan Grant

Sydney Burrell was awarded a Magellan Scholars Research Grant.  The title of her project is: "Mother-Child Synchrony as a Predictor of Problem Behavior and Autism-Related Deficits in Individuals with Fragile X Syndrome."  In this project, she will investigate if mother-child interaction can predict social outcomes, problem behaviors, and autism symptoms at a one-year follow up. Congratulations, Sydney!

Ella Ahrens Received First Place

Ella Ahrens Received First Place
Ella Ahrens received first place in Health Sciences at Discover USC! Her poster, Propositional Density as an Indicator of Premature Language Decline in Women with the FMR1 Premutation, represented the culmination of her Magellan Scholars Undergraduate Research Project. Way to go, Ella!

Postdoctoral Fellowship Position

Postdoctoral Fellowship Position
POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP IN AUTISM AND FRAGILE X ASSOCIATED CONDITIONS The lab of Dr. Jessica Klusek is pleased to announce the availability of one full-time NIH-funded postdoctoral fellowship position. This is a two-year position, with the option to extend to three years. The focus of this position is on language, literacy, and adult outcomes in fragile X syndrome. The fellow will also have the opportunity to participate in a variety of ongoing projects in the lab, which focus broadly on language and communication phenotypes in autism, the broad autism phenotype, and the FMR1 permutation. Dr. Klusek conducts research on psychiatric, physiological, and genetic correlates of communication ability across these neurodevelopment conditions. The fellow will receive hands-on experience conducting clinical studies of individuals with neurodevelopment disorders and their families. Autism diagnostic training will be offered (ADOS-2 research reliability). The fellow will also have the opportunity to participate in specialized training in the use and interpretation of physiological (i.e., heart activity) data in NDD research and in pragmatic language assessment. The fellow will be expected to both advance ongoing projects and to collaborate with Dr. Klusek and other lab members to develop new studies. There will be a significant emphasis on manuscript preparation, as well as professional development such as running an independent lab, mentoring students, and grant writing. The fellow will be encouraged to submit their own application for external funding to a major federal agency or private foundation (e.g., NIH, Autism Speaks). Dr. Klusek’s research is interdisciplinary and this opportunity is appropriate for applicants with backgrounds in psychology, speech-language pathology, health and human development, or other related disciplines. The start date is flexible, beginning fall 2018 or spring 2019. Interested candidates are invited to e-mail a CV and statement of interest to: Jessica Klusek, Ph.D., CCC-SLP Assistant Professor Dept. Communication Sciences and Disorders Arnold School of Public Health University of South Carolina

New study on literacy published

Check out our newest study on literacy development in children with fragile X syndrome!! Published in the American Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, research the published is called 'Reading in children with fragile X syndrome: Phonological awareness and feasibility of intervention'.

Rainey Hughes’ Paper Accepted for Publication!

Rainey Hughes
Rainey Hughes, a former undergraduate research assistant with the lab, has had a paper accepted for publication in Caravel, USC’s journal for undergraduate research! Rainey’s paper, Communicative Gestures in Infants with Fragile X Syndrome, presents the results of her Magellan Scholars undergraduate research project focused on gesture skills in 12-month old infants with fragile X syndrome. Rainey is currently pursuing a PhD in School Psychology at the University of Houston. Congratulations, Rainey! We are so proud of your accomplishments!

Alexis Graduates with Honors!

Alexis Ruber
Alexis Ruber, our long-time research assistant, has graduated with honors from the South Carolina Honors College! Alexis completed a senior honors thesis chaired by Dr. Jessica Klusek, entitled “Reduced Eye Contact and Anxiety in Women with the FMR1 Premutation". Her research with the lab was funded by a University of South Carolina Science Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) and a Magellan Scholar Award. Alexis will begin dental school at the Medical University of South Carolina in the fall, where she will pursue training in pediatric dentistry with a focus on dentistry for children with special needs. Congratulations, Alexis! We wish you the best!