Member Spotlight: Esther Kim, PhD, CCC-SLP

In each newsletter, we will feature an ANCDS member.  This quarter we're talking with Esther Kim, PhD, CCC-SLP, an Associate Professor and Director of the Aphasia Research Lab at the University of Alberta.  Esther's areas of expertise include cognitive mechanisms underlying language processing in aphasia and healthy aging; developing treatment approaches for aphasia and related neurogenic communication disorders.

ANCDS: Why did you become interested in the field of neurogenic communication disorders? 
Esther Kim (EK): I had always been interested in working in aging, but being exposed to the work going on at the National Center for Neurogenic Communication Disorders when I was studying at the University of Arizona really solidified my interest in this field.  There’s something about working with adults who were once fully independent, living their lives, who are then impacted by a sudden or progressive loss of their ability to communicate.  It made me think of my own grandparents, or parents (or myself, as I’m getting older!) and wanting to work to develop interventions that can help improve life for this population.

ANCDS: What research or clinical projects are you working on currently?
EK: Right now one of the projects that’s just getting going in my lab is an examination of different montages of tDCS paired with naming treatment for aphasia.  This study came about after a small pilot study I completed with some clinicians at a local rehabilitation hospital here.  We were using tDCS paired with intensive treatment in a small sample of people with aphasia.  We had some positive results on the impact of the treatment but the effects of the tDCS stimulation were (not surprisingly!) harder to interpret.  We realized we needed to back up and look at some basic questions around aspects of the stimulation itself, so that’s how this project came about.

ANCDS: Why did you join ANCDS and what benefits do you enjoy most?
EK: I first joined ANCDS as a student member.  It was intimidating yet exhilarating to meet the people who had been writing the textbooks and articles I had been reading!  I think ANCDS provides a great opportunity to learn from, network with, and contribute to the community of researchers who share the same passion and interests that you do.  Some of the great benefits I enjoy from ANCDS are the webinars and podcasts – having access to these experts sharing their insights is really invaluable. 

ANCDS: What do you do for fun/to relax? 
EK: I recently completed my first triathlon! That was a big challenge for me because I hate swimming. I got through the swim – it wasn’t pretty or fast, but I did it!