Our Team

Principal Investigator: Derek Houston

Dr. Houston received his doctorate in cognitive psychology from Johns Hopkins University in 2000, focusing on how typically developing infants segment words from fluent speech and recognize words across different talkers. After graduating, he constructed the world’s first laboratory to investigate the speech perception and language skills of deaf infants who receive cochlear implants at Indiana University. Since then, his work (supported by NIDCD) has investigated the role of early auditory experience and parent-child interactions on cognitive, linguistic, and social building blocks of language development. He also engages in community-based participatory research aimed at addressing barriers families face in obtaining high-quality early intervention services for their children.

Department Head & Professor  Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences 

Office: Phillips Communication Sciences Building 212

Email: derek.houston@uconn.edu

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Lab Manager : Bobby Bourque

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Research Scientist: Torri Ann Woodruff-Gautherin

Torri Ann Woodruff-Gautherin received her PhD in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences from the University of Connecticut in 2022. She has conducted research implementing both qualitative and quantitative methods to look at drivers behind access to early intervention for children who are D/deaf and Hard of hearing. She is passionate about language access across all modalities. In her free time, Torri Ann enjoys hiking with her family and trying allergy safe baked goods!

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Undergraduate Honors Student:

Juliette Ranelli

Juliette is a senior from New Haven, CT majoring in Speech Language & Hearing Sciences. On campus she works as an Honors GPS and a research assistant in the SLaP and HELLO Labs. She is interested in learning more about the language experiences of kids with Cochlear Implants. In her free time, Juliette enjoys going on playing ball with her dog and going down Zillow rabbit holes.

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AuD Student:

Courtney Melick

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PhD Student:

Precious-Janae Romain

Precious-Janae received her B.A. from Rutgers University-New Brunswick in 2023, with a major in Linguistics, minor in Psychology and certification in Speech & Hearing Sciences. Precious-Janae entered the doctoral program in Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences at University of Connecticut in the fall of 2023. Her research interests include spoken language development and acquisition in children with hearing loss, bilingualism, auditory and speech perception in language learning, and American Sign Language (ASL). In her free time she enjoys reading, cooking, playing video games, and dancing.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Karlien (Naya) Peterson is an undergraduate sophomore student majoring in Psychological Sciences. She is interested in developmental and social psychology. Outside of school, Naya enjoys trying new foods, bike rides, and listening to music.

Adriana Rinaldi is an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut. She is currently completing her junior year as a Speech Language and Hearing Sciences major with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. Adriana’s interests lie in the field of Speech Language Pathology with hopes to work with toddler-elementary age children in an educational setting. Outside of her studies, Adriana loves going to concerts, traveling, and spending time with her family!

Madeline Germe is an undergraduate honors student majoring in Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences with a minor in Human Development and Family Sciences. She is working towards a career as a Speech Language Pathologist in an educational setting. Madeline is an active member of UConn’s National Student Speech, Language & Hearing Association (NSSLHA). Her interests include speech acquisition, speech perception, and American Sign Language. In her free time, Madeline enjoys playing volleyball, watching movies, and spending time with friends.

Mackenzie Hackney is a first year undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut. She is majoring in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. Her minors include Human Development and Family Sciences, Psychology, and American Sign Language. She hopes to become a pediatric speech language pathologist in the future. Outside of school, Mackenzie enjoys dancing, listening to music, and spending time with her friends and family.

Ranyelis Espinoza is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a major in speech-language and hearing science, accompanied by a minor in human development and family studies. She is actively engaged in her academic pursuits, preparing herself for her future career goal of working as a speech-language pathologist (SLP). Alongside her studies, she dedicates her time to work as a pharmacy technician.

Sofia Rebelo is a sophomore undergraduate pursuing Cognitive Science and Computer Science and following the pre-law pre-professional track. Her interests encompass second language acquisition, UX/UI design, AI modeling, and intellectual property law. Beyond her academics, Sofia enjoys watching movies, learning new languages, and playing with her two cats.

Past Members

Madelyn Kulman (Undergraduate Research Assistant)