Susan Ellis WeismerSusan Ellis Weismer, PhD, CCC-SLP
Principal Investigator

Professor Susan Ellis Weismer investigates the developmental course and nature of language processing in atypical language learners compared to those with typical language development. Populations of interest include late talkers, children with specific language impairment, and young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). One line of research is focused on examining linguistic processing abilities of toddlers with late onset of language development compared to those with typical patterns of language acquisition. Another area of research is directed at studying language development patterns in young children with ASD.

Jenny SaffranJenny Saffran, PhD
Principal Investigator

How do children acquire their native language? Professor Jenny Saffran’s research focuses on the kinds of learning abilities required to master the complexities of language. Three broad issues characterize her work. One line of research asks what kinds of learning emerge in infancy. A second line of research probes the biases that shape human learning abilities, and the relationship between these biases and the structure of human languages. A third issue concerns the extent to which the learning abilities underlying this process are specifically tailored for language acquisition. To learn more about Professor Saffran’s research, visit her Infant Learning Lab website!

Lucia Stubbs, PhD

Lucia Stubbs, PhD, is a licensed psychologist at the Waisman Center. She received her PhD in counseling psychology from Marquette University. Her psychological training includes positions at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, The Trauma Clinic of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Early Autism Project. Dr. Stubbs’s clinical interests include neuropsychological development, trauma-informed care, and family/system-based treatment. The emphasis of her clinical and research work is to promote enhanced neuropsychological functioning to encourage overall well-being throughout the lifespan.

Martha Walter, PhD

Martha Walter, PhD, is a licensed psychologist at the Waisman Center. She received her PhD in school psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed a clinical fellowship in developmental disabilities at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her clinical interests include diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, and other developmental and/or psychiatric concerns; treatment of anxiety and co-occurring behavioral difficulties for children with developmental disabilities; and consultation with families, schools, and providers. Dr. Walter’s research interests have most recently focused on school services and supports for children with intellectual disability and/or autism. She is also interested in exploring the use of telehealth to improve access to services for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Janine Mathee, MS, CCC-SLP
Graduate Student

Janine is a graduate student in the MS/PhD program in Speech-Language Pathology working with Dr. Ellis Weismer. Janine first became interested in developmental and cognitive research through working in Dr. Saffran’s Infant Learning Lab, where she completed an undergraduate senior thesis project investigating the effects of visual salience on infants’ lexical processing. Her research interests are centered around what mechanisms drive the vast differences in language outcomes observed among individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and how these mechanisms can be applied clinically in order to facilitate language growth for children with ASD. Janine is passionate about “bridging the gap” between research and clinical work.

Kathryn Prescott, MA, CCC-SLP
Graduate Student

Kathryn is a PhD student under the mentorship of Dr. Susan Ellis Weismer in the department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. She graduated with her B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Northwestern University and her M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Kathryn is a certified speech-language pathologist with clinical experience in early intervention and school settings. Her research interests include investigating the mechanisms underlying early language learning in clinical populations in order to inform intervention practices among speech-language pathologists serving these populations. She is passionate about evidence-based practice and bridging the gap between research and clinical speech-language pathology.

Heidi Sindberg
Speech-Language Pathologist

Heidi received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Communicative Disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has been a lifetime resident of the Madison area. Her lengthy career as a speech-language pathologist has been split between clinical and research positions. Heidi has worked on three previous research projects in the Language Processes Lab and has extensive experience evaluating communication skills in young children.

Kristine Millard
Data Manager

Kristine joined our team after several years in public libraries. She has a post-baccalaureate certificate in Family Literacy. Her professional interests focus on early literacy foundations, including the impact of language development on later reading abilities and school success.  She emphasizes the importance of diversity and inclusive environments, experiences, and literature in lifelong learning opportunities. She is working on her masters degree in Library and Information Science, including an independent study in 2021 on serving library patrons with autism.

Alyssa BathAlyssa Bath
Research Assistant

Alyssa is an undergraduate student majoring in Rehabilitation Psychology. She loves working with children and is very excited to learn more about the effects of autism on language development and processing. After graduating she plans on earning a degree in Occupational therapy in hopes of becoming a pediatric Occupational therapist.

Samantha Ertz
Research Assistant

Samantha is an undergraduate majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders with certificates in Disability Rights and Services and Education and Educational Services. She loves working with kids and is excited to learn more about language development in children with ASD. Following graduation, she plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology.

Morgan Kuckkahn
Research Assistant

Morgan is an undergraduate student majoring in Communication Sciences & Disorders. She has a strong passion for helping others and working with children. Morgan is excited to learn more about how autism affects language development and processing in comparison to typically developing children. After graduating, she plans to obtain a Masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology in hopes of becoming a pediatric speech-language pathologist in a school or clinic setting.

River Steen
Research Assistant

River is a graduate student in the M.S. program in Speech-Language Pathology. She graduated with her B.S. in Communication Sciences & Disorders and Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. River is involved in the Project CASTLE grant which allows her to receive specialized clinical training in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). After graduate school, she hopes to work as a certified Speech-Language Pathologist providing services for children with ASD in early intervention programs.

Hannah Toohey
Research Assistant

Hannah is a graduate student in the MS-SLP class of 2023. She completed the Capstone Certificate in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison following her B.S. in Information Systems and Marketing from Loyola University-Chicago. After completing her degree, Hannah hopes to work in a school setting.

Julia ZacherJulia Zacher
Research Assistant
Julia is an undergraduate student in her junior year majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders, with certificates in Education and Educational Services, and Disability Rights and Services. She is very passionate and excited to learn more about children with ASD as she hopes to work in a pediatric setting in the future. After graduation, Julia has plans to attend grad school to pursue a Master’s in speech language pathology.