College of Health and Human Services
Researching the Science of Voice
Communication sciences & disorders student to continue research focus
Brittany Frazer’s first serious foray into science was her eighth grade science fair project. She studied how the size of the sail on a boat would affect the distance the boat would travel.
The College of Health and Human Services graduating senior recalled the project prompted more questions than answers for her. And that’s been the case ever since. She is naturally curious, always asking the next question, which makes her an ideal candidate for continuing her focus on research in the field of communication sciences and disorders, said Dr. Ronald Scherer, one of her professors and mentors.
The Maybee, Mich., native knew in high school that she wanted to pursue a career as a speech-language pathologist. She had seen firsthand the impact of good speech-language therapy. Her younger cousin, Jessie Frazer, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth and was offered little hope of ever talking, is now "quite the conversationalist, like most 13- year-olds."
Bowling Green State University was her university of choice after shadowing several professionals in area schools and found many of them had graduated from BGSU’s program. As she wraps up the first four years of her college education, she knows it was the right choice. She loved all her classes and found her curiosity kicked in again whether she was taking forensics science, gerontology or curling classes.
What she learned in the process was that clinical work most likely will not be her ultimate career choice. As a sophomore, she started as a research assistant in Scherer’s lab. She has been using a multi-mass computer model to produce human-like phonation.
Last summer, she prepared a Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship grant proposal and worked on the project, completing it within the grant deadline. The project involved the effects of important parameters of "phonation threshold pressures," measures highly important to clinical diagnostics. Even of greater importance, according to Scherer, is her work with high-speed recordings of phonation, matching real human production with human modeling on a computer. "The result? It is the first time a computer model has been used to actually match human phonation signals," Scherer said. "Colleagues at a recent New York City conference were highly impressed, which is quite encouraging."
"Brittany has been an ideal research assistant," Scherer said. "She has been an exceptional student and one of the only students interviewed who was naturally curious about the project and asked questions," he explained. She also has had a hand in at least four poster presentations, eight presentations and five reports about the research topics.
"She has the right mindset for science and research, the right patience, and is always asking the next question," he continued. "Not only is it more than refreshing from a faculty perspective, it also points to a strong career in the sciences."
When she graduates on May 4, she will be the first member of her immediate family to graduate from college. Frazer has already been accepted into BGSU’s "bridge program" for communication sciences and disorders students who know they want something more than clinical work. The five-year joint master’s/doctoral program will advance her knowledge and research base, and start the clinical orientation, which she knows is a valuable tool for working with people and understanding the real work world.
"I’ve learned so much thus far and have developed as a person. Helping people is at the core of what I want to do. This program will help me achieve my goal of becoming a college professor."