STEM Shoutout: Dr. Jessica Richardson

Dr. Jessica Richardson named a 2018 Women in STEM winner

Dr. Jessica Richardson, an assistant professor and speech-language pathologist in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences and the Center for Brain Recovery and Repair at the UNM Health Sciences Center, and Dr. Amy Neel, an associate professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, have been named 2018 Women in STEM award winners for their research on brain injury recovery.

As the brain recovers from trauma, Richardson says, it often changes in order to improve abilities that were lost. She collects data by using neuroimaging with behavioral assessment to measure these changes. She is also interested on the impact of brain stimulation to enhance this change.

Commonly, measures of object naming, reaction time of cognitive or linguistic behaviors, and/or basic attention and memory processes are assessed to track recovery, but whether or not these changes are important for everyday life is questionable. Richardson’s research explores recovery with multidimensional assessments.

“Many more factors contribute to successful communication and life participation, and we study these at the levels of the brain injury survivor, caregiver, and community,” Richardson said.

Richardson also personally created a program called the Neuro Choir, which helps brain injury survivors and their care partners to engage in more social and communicative opportunities through song.