Advance at UNM 2018 Women in STEM awards: Jessica Richardson


Dr. Amy Neel, an Associate Professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences and Dr. Jessica Richardson, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. Their proposal is “Speech and Language Biomarkers of Repeated Head Trauma in Professional Fighters” and they will investigate changes in communication skills associated with repeated head trauma in professional boxers and mixed martial artists using data collected through the Professional Fighters Brain Health Study established by Dr. Charles Bernick at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Brain Health. The duo will compare speech and language skills in 80 professional fighters and healthy control subjects and link communication deficits with specific areas of brain damage associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Speech and language changes can serve as non-invasive biomarkers for the early diagnosis of CTE and for tracking of disease progression.

“Understanding speech and language deficits in fighters may help prevent and treat CTE in athletes in a variety of contact sports as well as in military personnel.

We are especially excited that we will be able to support two students in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences as project assistants with the funds from the WIS grant,” Neel said.