ANCDS Student Fellow Spotlight: Melissa Ugianskis, MPH

Name: Melissa Ugianskis, MPH
Program of Study/Year in Program: second-year graduate student at Portland State University working on a master's degree in the Speech and Hearing Sciences
University: Portland State University
ANCDS Fellow Mentor: Jose Centeno, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Area(s) of research, teaching, and/or clinical interest: neuroplasticity and language recovery in aphasia

Melissa began her research at PSU with Dr. Fergadiotis in 2021 as a research analyst in the PSU Aphasia Lab and was a co-author of the OSHA presentation, “Community Outreach and Engagement to Improve Aphasia Services” in October of 2022.  Her current work in the Adult Language and Cognition (ALC) Lab with Dr. Manaswita Dutta focuses on the examination of coherence in latent aphasia and was presented at the Academy of Aphasia conference in Reading, England in October 2023.

Future research interests include neuroplasticity and language recovery in individuals with aphasia; in particular, the effect of neuroplastic mechanisms on language and the reorganization of structure and functional relationships in the brain.  Melissa is interested in learning more about neural correlates, biomarkers, potential epigenetic changes, and other factors that may influence long-term recovery and how best to translate that work into clinical practice.

While working toward her graduate degree, Melissa continues to be an advocate for lessening barriers to care within the Portland metro area and around the country.

Why did you decide to apply for the ANCDS Student Fellowship?
Being able to meet and learn from the leading minds in this field was such an exciting opportunity, I just couldn’t pass it up!  Having access to a mentor to discuss current research, opportunities, and next steps is just such a valuable resource at any point in a career, but especially when starting out in a new direction.  I am so grateful to be able to speak to others who have been where I am, and hopefully learn from their experience.

Melissa Ugianskis

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