SCSD Professors Receive Seed Grants

School of Communication Science and Disorders Assistant Professor Dr. Mollie Romano and Professor Dr. Richard Morris were recently awarded a Seed Grant from the Council on Research and Creativity (CRH) at Florida State University.


Dr. Richard Morris

Alongside his colleague Dr. Chorong Oh, Morris plans on putting the grant to use by developing an assessment protocol using speech prosody–pitch contours, loudness patterns, timing patterns including pauses and repetitions– to differentiate among dementia types. According to Morris, the funding from the Seed Grant will allow them to “pay an animator to create two brief animations: one to train the participants to respond to the prompt and the other to be used in our assessment protocol.”

Morris and Oh are planning on submitting a National Institute of Health (NIH) proposal so they can have a bigger set of participants to collect their data, which would aid in the reliability and validity of their assessment protocol. Morris expressed that their goal with this project is to “encourage clinicians to use the protocol when determining behavioral treatments for their clients with dementia.”

Dr. Romano

Dr. Mollie Romano

Romano and Co-PIs Katherine Dale (SCOM) and Arienne Ferchaud (SCOM) will use the Seed Grant to conduct research for their proposal, “The BabyTok Project- Development, Validation, and Pilot Testing of a Social Media Intervention for Caregivers”. Romano explained that this project “will develop and pilot-test a body of short-form videos about early communication development for use on social media platforms to see what caregivers learn, and whether or not using social media to deliver this type of content impacts what caregivers know and how they interact with their infants.”

While pilot testing has already begun for infant toddler teachers, receiving this grant means that the team will have the opportunity to focus on development work for parents. “We hope that the content in the videos helps caregivers enrich their interactions with their babies and that it helps them understand the role they play in their child’s language learning just by doing simple, everyday routines together,” said Romano.

Romano and her team hope to apply for additional funding to conduct a broader randomized, controlled trial of the intervention with caregivers. They also want to make these videos available to the public so that all caregivers can have access to the research.