UNM Associate Professor Receives “Career Change” Grant

Jessica Richardson, associate professor of speech and hearing sciences at the University of New Mexico, received a $ 2 million grant in November 2021 funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, a cult from the National Institutes of Health.

This five-year grant will be used to study and improve treatment for aphasia, a condition in which affected individuals lose the ability to communicate or understand language, in stroke patients. This research focuses on the combination of traditional language therapy techniques with transcranial stimulation, a non-invasive electrical brain stimulation believed to help “shape” brain activity to improve language recovery outcomes.

“The greatest success (in the grant application process) is having the funds to carry out a project which I believe will have a real impact on the daily lives of people with aphasia in my lifetime,” said writes Richardson to Daily Lobo.

Richardson attributes his initial interest in speech therapy, particularly aphasia, to his childhood experiences watching his grandfather recover from a stroke. Some of the most rewarding moments in her job now are helping people regain their independence and identity following the life-changing trauma of stroke.

“We ask a lot of our participants: we ask them to be vulnerable and to share with us pieces of themselves and their lives; we’re asking for their time and commitment, ”Richardson wrote. “Yes, we try to give back whenever we can, but even so, it’s a big request, and I always strive to honor that. “

Honey Hubbard met Richardson in 2010 while Hubbard was a student at the University of South Carolina, around the same time Richardson was doing a scholarship there. She now works as a project manager on the Richardson grant.

Hubbard attests to the difficulty and competitiveness of obtaining such a subsidy. A grant of this caliber will “change his career” – not only will it provide Richardson with the means to conduct important clinical research, but it will significantly expand his profile in the research community and give him a “foot in the door”.

“I think a big part of what brought her to this position is her positive attitude and reluctance to accept failures or rejections as the final line,” Hubbard said. “She has a lot of persistence.”

Richardson said that especially as a woman in the research fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, it is particularly common to encounter many rejections in the field. Richardson assured that while there are additional challenges unique to women in science, great things can be achieved.

“(As a woman in STEM) you can have a hard time being heard and you can be viewed harshly for making sure you are heard. Make sure you are heard anyway. Look for allies – they exist. Seek out educational opportunities and most importantly seek to amplify the voices of other people who may also have difficulty being heard due to their race, ethnicity, gender diversity, etc. Richardson wrote.

Hubbard said that one of Richardson’s greatest strengths is his immense talent for translating scientific research from the smallest and most microscopic level to clinical applications and improving the tools the field uses to help clinicians improve. the lives of more patients.

“I think she has this enormous breadth of scientific resources that she is able to funnel into something that will not only bring about a significant change in a certain behavior, but, hopefully, a significant change in the ability to perform. that person to participate in their community, ”said Hubbard.

Richardson said a number of brilliant mentors have helped her get to where she is today, and Hubbard highlighted Richardson’s exceptional abilities as a mentor herself to members of her teams at research and its students.

“She has this way of uplifting the people around her to be at her level rather than talking down… Even with the students, I think she takes them with them,” Hubbard said. “It’s much more an invitation to join her at the table rather than a conference on a podium. “

Zara Roy is the editor of the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @zarazzledazzle

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