Lab Director

Chris C. Heffner, Ph.D.

Chris is the Assistant Professor in charge of the CSPAN Lab. He earned his B.A. in Linguistics and B.S. in Psychology from Michigan State University in 2012, and his PhD in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2017. After a stint as a postdoc at the University of Connecticut, he started his job at UB in Fall 2020, a wonderful time to be moving to a new city where he knew no one. You can read more about his interests at his personal website. No stranger to cold, snowy places, Chris grew up in Minnesota. In his spare time, he enjoys board games, trivia, taking public transportation and baking cookies.

Senior Research Assistant

Alissa Hopper, M.S.

Alissa joined the lab in the summer of 2021. Alissa completed an M.S. in Speech and Hearing Sciences at UNC Chapel Hill in 2018 and is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist. Her research interests include the interactions between speech sound development and language development in adolescents. With an undergraduate background in Psychology, she is also interested in the role that executive functions play in speech and language development. She is originally from Pennsylvania, but lived in North Carolina for 5 years before moving to New York. She lives with her husband (a mathematician) in Rochester, NY, and she enjoys playing the piano and reading in her free time.

Graduate Research Assistants

Kasandra Kinkead, B.A.

Kasandra joined the lab in August of 2022 and is currently in her first year of her Master’s of Speech Pathology. She graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor’s in Speech and Hearing Science from UB. Kasandra is from a small village called Round Lake which is near Albany, New York. She joins the lab as a Teaching Assistant but hopes to learn more about Parkinson’s Disease as she worked in a lab as an undergrad that primarily focused on Parkinson’s research. She is interested in working in a hospital setting with older adults who have had strokes and those with Parkinson’s Disease. Kasandra enjoys skiing and working out in her free time.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Madison Marsh

Madison joined the CSPAN lab in September 2023. She is a senior completing her undergraduate degree in Communication Disorders & Sciences, with a minor in American Sign Language and Education. In the future, she hopes to become a Speech-Language Pathologist in a pediatric setting. Madison is from Fredonia, New York. She enjoys playing softball for the UB club team, cooking, spending time with friends and family, and cheering for the Bills!

Tatianna Beutel

Tatianna recently joined the CSPAN Lab in Spring 2022. She is a second-year student and intends to major in Nursing. She hopes to become a Neonatal Nurse when she graduates, and eventually go back to school to get her Master’s Degree to be a Nurse Practitioner. She is excited to gain experience in research and learn more about the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences (as someone outside of the field). Tatianna is originally from New Jersey, and enjoys reading, going on runs, and listening to new music.

Sandra Lemus

Sandra is a Research Assistant in the CSPAN Lab. She is currently working towards her undergraduate degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University at Buffalo. She hopes to one day become a Speech-Language Pathologist, specializing in pediatrics. Sandra is from Mount Vernon, NY. On her free time, she loves to draw, read and play video games.

Rebekah Young

Rebekah joined the CSPAN Lab in the Summer of 2022 as a Research Assistant. She is currently a second-year undergraduate at the University at Buffalo majoring in Cognitive Science and Computer Science. She is interested in high-level mental processes and computational modeling. Rebekah grew up in New York City and spent most of her time in the performing arts scene. She pursued dance studies and attended a performing arts high school on the Upper East Side of NYC before directing her studies to Cognitive Science in Buffalo. Her leisure time consists of mindfulness practices and fruitful conversations with loved ones.

Lab Manager

Rylee Manning, M.Phil, M.Sc

Rylee joined the lab in October 2023. She has a master’s degree in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Language from the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language. In 2021, she completed an M.Phil in Linguistics from Trinity College Dublin. Before moving to New York, Rylee worked in the Aphasia Research Lab at Purdue University. Her main research interests are bilingual aphasia, language recovery and linguistic patterns of inner speech in schizophrenia. Rylee is from Atlanta, Georgia. In her free time, she enjoys reading, ice skating, and traveling.

Past Lab Members

  • Caroline Kaicher, Summer 2021
  • Lydia Bashor, Fall 2021
  • Abigail Metzger, Fall 2021 – Spring 2022
  • Sydney dela Rosa, Fall 2020 – Spring 2022
  • Abby Rubenstein Fall 2021 – Fall 2022
  • Raghad Azzam Spring 2022 – Spring 2023
  • Alessia Mangoni Fall 2021 – Spring 2023
  • Sarah Cruz Spring 2022 – Spring 2023
  • Alyssa DeCaro Spring 2022 – Spring 2023
  • Sarah Vicari Fall 2021 – Spring 2023
  • Kelly Gates Summer 2022 – Summer 2023
  • Noora Somersalo Fall 2022 – Fall 2023
  • Abigail Makofske Fall 2021 – Fall 2023
  • Rachel Maloney Fall 2022 – Fall 2023
  • Natalie Merriman Fall 2022 – Fall 2023
  • Madison Witt Fall 2022 – Fall 2023