Current Members

Lab Director

Kris Tjaden, PhD, CCC-SLP                                                                                                       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.

Lab Staff

Kaila L. Stipancic, PhD, CCC-SLP         Kaila is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences and she directs the Buffalo Oromotor, Speech, & Swallowing (BOSS) Lab. Kaila completed a postdoc in the MSD lab after receiving her PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA. Prior to her PhD, Kaila 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. Kaila continues to collaborate with the MSD Lab team alongside pursuing her own research lines in the BOSS Lab.


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
Liam Arzbecker, PhD                         Postdoctoral Research Associate                                       Lian was drawn to the field because of its practical combination of language and science. After a brief clinical experience, however, she realized she was more interested in researching speech therapy than providing it. Thus, she pursued a PhD in Speech and Hearing Science at Ohio State. Her graduate training was primarily in acoustic analysis and indexical perception, and she’s especially fascinated by the lack of invariance problem. As a Wisconsin native, she may be new to Buffalo—but certainly not to snow! In her free time, Lian enjoys coaching cross country, collecting interesting facts, and attempting to take personality quizzes on behalf of her dog.


Jordan Manes, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Jordan completed her PhD in Systems & Cognitive Neuroscience at Northwestern University, specializing in movement and rehabilitation sciences. Her research utilizes acoustic speech measures and functional neuroimaging to better understand brain-behavior interactions associated with neurogenic motor speech disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease.

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.


Research Assistants

Olivia Rizza, MA                                               Olivia graduated from the University at Buffalo in 2023 with her Masters in Communicative Disorders and Sciences. Olivia is currently working towards her CCC’s as a Speech-Language Pathologist Clinical Fellow servicing the early intervention and preschool populations in Niagara County. Olivia has been a part of the Motor Speech Disorders Lab team since her time as an undergraduate student; She is happy to remain a member of the MSD Lab as a post-graduate research assistant to continue participating in acoustic analysis for ongoing studies.


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 Ph.D. in Communicative Disorders and Sciences. He was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri before moving to Buffalo, NY in 2019 and starting in the MSD lab in 2021. He is eager to gain research experience and hopes to continue research in speech production 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.


Madison Roberts, BA                                                       Madison is a graduate assistant in the MSD lab. She graduated this past May with a bachelor’s degree in human development and family science from Syracuse University. She is currently a make-up student in the M.A. Speech Language Pathology program. During undergrad, she worked in a research lab studying developmental and social factors impacting adolescent and young adult experiences. Madison is originally from Rochester, NY and is looking forward to working in the MSD lab.


Jana Whitehouse, B.S.                                                         Jana completed my B.S in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in Exceptional Education from James Madison University in May 2023. She is currently a first-year M.A student in Speech Language Pathology and a graduate assistant in the MSD lab. She has lived in western New York her whole life, but only lived in Buffalo for about three years. She is looking forward to gaining clinical experience in the program and research experience in the lab.
Hailey Carrasco
Hailey is a third-year undergraduate student at UB majoring in Speech and Hearing Science and minoring in Psychology. She plans to pursue her M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology and plans to work in a hospital setting. She is excited to gain research experience and enhance her skills.