Communicative disorders professor wins national research award

Prize money from the national organization will help fund Associate Professor Alisa Baron's research projects

Media Contact: Patrick Luce, 401-874-4046 |

KINGSTON, R.I. — Oct. 20, 2020 — College of Health Sciences Assistant Professor Alisa Baron will have some new funding to support her academic and research endeavors after receiving a national award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Baron, assistant professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders, will receive a $5,000 prize after being named recipient of the national organization’s Advancing Academic-Research Careers award. The annual awards are intended to support the academic-research careers of junior-level faculty in the discipline of communication sciences and disorders. The award supports mentored activities in teaching and research, particularly those that focus on clinical practice research, implementation science, or interprofessional education and interprofessional science.

“Early-career faculty are required to have a set of goals for mentored activities for teaching and research,” Baron said, noting she will work with her teaching mentor, URI Associate Professor Leslie Mahler. “With Dr. Mahler, I plan to develop a new multidisciplinary technology course regarding technology frequently used in research and medicine,” Baron said. “I also plan to create an interdepartmental language group and lecture series to work together and learn from faculty and students across the university who are interested in language research.”

Baron’s research involves bilingual language acquisition, language processing and child language disorders. She focuses on neurotypical Spanish-English bilingual children and children with developmental language disorders as well as heritage Spanish speaking adults, seeking to understand how English affects Spanish grammar development and vice versa. She uses eye-tracking methodology to better understand how bilingual individuals process grammatical structures in both languages.

Baron integrates her clinical experience in schools, private practice and home health into the classroom environment, and provides meaningful, real-world examples to her students. She promotes awareness and competence in working with culturally and linguistically diverse populations, to further the theoretical and practical understanding of bilingualism, and enhance evidence-based practice for bilingual children with communication disorders. She is the co-founder of the College’s Collaborative Cognitive Neuroscience Lab.

“Dr. Baron brings an enthusiasm and dedication to the university that makes her stand out among new faculty,” Mahler said. “This enthusiasm translates to the classroom, where students have recognized her for her teaching methods. She encompasses the qualities of a junior faculty member who will use the award toward its intended purpose and will make a significant contribution to the department, college and profession.”