Project Open Team

Karen Erickson

Karen Erickson, PhD

Karen is the Director of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies, a Professor in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, and the Yoder Distinguished Professor in the Department of Allied Health Sciences, School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research addresses literacy and communication assessment and instruction for individuals of all ages and abilities, with a focus on individuals with significant support needs. Karen is co-developer of the Tar Heel Reader online library of accessible books for beginning readers, as well as several other assistive and learning technologies. She is a former teacher of children with significant disabilities. Erickson is currently the PI on multiple federally funded research and development projects.

Jeff Higginbotham

Jeff Higginbotham, PhD

Jeff is a professor at the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences, University at Buffalo. His research focuses on how individuals with impaired movement, including those with cerebral palsy and motor neuron disease, engage in interactions with others, using their bodies and augmentative communication technology. Much of his research examines the distortions in interaction time related to the augmented speaker’s slowly composed productions and the consequent adaptations made by the interactants to accommodate the increased demands on attention, vigilance, memory, etc. He is currently a co-PI on a federally funded project studying composition delay and repair in AAC.

Lori Geist

Lori Geist, PhD, CCC-SLP

Lori is an assistant professor at the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies in the Department of Allied Health Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to joining the research faculty at UNC, she worked in direct service, consultation, and product development, with her efforts concentrated on intervention approaches that target communication, language, and literacy outcomes for individuals with complex communication needs. Her research interests center on leveraging technology in the delivery of effective intervention. She is currently a co-PI on multiple federally funded research and development projects.

Gary Bishop

Gary Bishop, PhD

Professor of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gary and his students develop software designed to enable people with disabilities to participate fully in education, literacy and play.

Sofia Benson-Goldberg

Sofia Benson-Goldberg, PhD, CCC-SLP

Sofia Benson-Goldberg is a certified speech-language pathologist who has worked with children and adolescents who use AAC for 7 years. She recently completed her PhD while working as a research assistant at the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies. She is a post-doctoral fellow on Project Open.

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Jenna Bizovi, MBA, BSIE

Jenna is the Assistant Director at the Communication and Assistive Device Laboratory (CADL) at the University at Buffalo. Bizovi is an expert in human factors engineering and human-technology-interaction. She has significant experience in directing teams of individuals with diverse backgrounds in research and technology development. In addition to her research work on the project, Bizovi is also responsible for directing student researchers and engineers on collaborative R&D projects.

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Todd Hutchinson

Todd Hutchinson is a life-long user of a variety of communication technologies and is an expert user of MinSpeak. He has worked as a teacher and technical and research consultant at the University at Buffalo, SUNY – Fredonia, Nazareth, and SUNY Buffalo State. Mr. Hutchinson has worked with the Communication and Assistive Device Laboratory at the University at Buffalo for the last 25 years, serving primarily as a research associate on a variety of research grants. In 2018 he gave the Edwin and Esther Prentke AAC Distinguished Lecture at the annual conference of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, recognizing his accomplishments as an augmented speaker. Mr. Hutchinson’s other interests include representations of the disabled in writing and on social media. 

Franchesca Arecy

Franchesca Arecy, M.S., CF-SLP

Franchesca Arecy was born and raised in Queens, New York. She attended the State University of New York at New Paltz to obtain her Bachelors of Arts degree in Communication Disorders and Spanish with a minor in Deaf Studies. Arecy completed her Masters of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology at Howard University. During her time there, she researched the interpretations of figurative language expressions among Caribbean, African and African-American older adults. For her master’s thesis, Arecy explored the relationship between multilingualism and AAC through a research study to determine if multilingual individuals learn the AAC visual language, Minspeak, more completely than monolingual individuals. This upcoming Fall, Arecy will begin her PhD degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders at the University at Buffalo.

Danielle Nader

Danielle Nader, M.S., CCC-SLP

Danielle is a current doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests include interventions for children who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems to communicate, and equipping SLPs to provide effective and high quality services for this population. Prior to returning back to school to pursue a PhD, she worked for 4 years as an SLP providing services to young children who use AAC and their families.

Antara Satchidanand

Antara Satchidanand, CCC-SLP

Antara is a PhD candidate in Communication Disorders and Science at the University at Buffalo.  Her masters level research focused on single case design and data-informed clinical decision-making.  Antara’s current research addresses miscommunication and repair in technology mediated communication through the use of microanalysis.  Contexts for this work include examination of referencing tasks  in robot assisted surgery, and communication repair in conversations between individuals using augmentative and alternative communication and their typically speaking partners.