Current Members

Lab Director

Kris Tjaden, PhD, CCC-SLP                     Dr. Kris Tjaden is a Professor in the department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences and the Director of the Motor Speech Disorders (MSD) Laboratory at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. In addition, she is currently working as Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs in the University at Buffalo, College of Arts and Sciences. Kris completed her M.A. at the University of Minnesota and her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the area of Communicative Disorders & Sciences. The MSD lab conducts research investigating the acoustic bases of reduced intelligibility and naturalness in dysarthria secondary to neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
Kaila L. Stipancic, PhD, CCC-SLP – Postdoctoral Research Associate Kaila is a postdoctoral researcher in the lab. She received her BA in Speech and Language Sciences at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, her MA in Communicative Disorders and Sciences at University at Buffalo, and her PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA. She completed her clinical fellowship in speech-language pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in an acute-care setting. Broadly, she is interested in how the brain controls the muscles of speech and swallowing and the perceptual, acoustic, kinematic, and neurophysiologic consequences of neurodegenerative disease on these functions. She has particular interest in the measurement of relevant clinical outcomes, such as speech intelligibility, and in improving therapeutic options to improve the quality of life of patients with oromotor impairments.
Frits van Brenk, PhD
External Consultant 
Frits works as an external consultant for the lab. He previously worked as postdoctoral researcher in the lab, and is currently a lecturer in the Linguistics program at Utrecht University in The Netherlands, where he also received his BA and Research MA in Linguistics. He received his PhD in Speech and Language Therapy at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. His research focuses on the assessment of speech in normal and disordered speakers, in particular speech characteristics of persons with dysarthria and apraxia of speech. Using different perceptual, acoustic, and kinematic experimental methodologies, he hopes to contribute to the body of knowledge on motor speech disorders with a view to improve diagnostic and outcome measures that may aid their assessment and treatment.
Personal Website  ResearchGate Profile


Graduate Students

Nathan Cline, B.A.                                      Nathan completed his B.A. in Linguistics from the University at Buffalo in May 2021, and is staying at UB to pursue his M.A. in Communicative Disorders and Sciences. He was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and studied at Boston University for a year before transferring to UB. He is eager to get research experience and hopes to work in a clinical setting after graduation.
Emma Spronk, B.A.                            Emma is a graduate assistant in the lab. She completed her B.A. in English from Messiah University in 2021. While in undergrad she participated in research on the effect of the outdoors on wellbeing and was president of the American Sign Language Club. She hails from Plattsburgh, NY. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Communicative Disorders and Sciences at UB.


Olivia Rizzo
Olivia completed her B.A. in Communication Disorders and Sciences with a Psychology minor from the University at Buffalo in May 2021. Olivia has been a member of the Motor Speech Disorders Lab since the fall of 2020, as an undergraduate student. Currently, Olivia continues to study at UB, pursuing her Masters of Arts in Speech Language Pathology and is a Graduate Research Assistant in the MSD Lab. She is excited to continue to gain clinical experience and further participate in the MSD lab.


Claire McKenna
Claire McKenna                                      Claire McKenna in an undergraduate research assistant. Claire will graduate in May 2022 with a B.S. of Communication Disorders and Sciences with minors in Education and Psychology. Claire is eager to continue her education at UB to earn a M.A in Speech-Language Pathology. She looks forward to gaining research and clinical experience.


Andrew Meis, MA                              Andrew is currently a first-year student in the M.A. in Communicative Disorders and Sciences program. Originally from Colorado, he holds degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder and Cornell University. He is looking forward to the research experience in the lab, and the clinical experiences of the M.A. program at UB. Outside of school, Andrew enjoys exploring the parks around Western New York


Audrey Perrelli, BA
Audrey completed her B.A. in Communication Sciences and Disorders with minors in Education and American Sign Language from the University of Pittsburgh in April 2022. She is currently a first-year Master of Arts in Speech Language Pathology student at UB. Audrey is from Allentown, PA and she is very excited to work in the Motor Speech Disorders Lab as she pursues the next step in her education.


Lab Coordinator

Amanda R. Allen, MA, CCC-SLP          Amanda is the UB Motor Speech Disorders Lab Coordinator. She also practices as a school-based speech-language pathologist for the North Tonawanda City School District. Amanda earned a Master of Arts degree in Communicative Disorders & Sciences in 2016 and a Master of Education degree in English in 2009 from the University at Buffalo.