Participating in Wyoming’s Parkinson’s PCORI

I had the privilege to attend the Wyoming Parkinson’s Project luncheon in September that was held here in Laramie. This luncheon was a key piece to engage stakeholders at a PCORI-sponsored event. I learned a lot about Parkinson’s disease and how difficult it can be to find resources for those who have Parkinson’s. The table I was sitting at had many healthcare professionals, caretakers, and individuals who have Parkinson’s. It was interesting to hear what each person contributed to the many questions. Some questions included, “What kind of resources are available in Wyoming for those who have Parkinson’s?” “What kind of support groups are available?” “What obstacles exist?” I learned that it is difficult to find a Neurologist in Wyoming to diagnosis Parkinson’s. I also learned that in many rural areas it is difficult to reach any sort of healthcare facility in a reasonable time. The healthcare professionals had mentioned that not a whole lot of doctors know too much about Parkinson’s and also it is hard to make sure that they are effectively treating a patient with Parkinson’s. A couple of the caretakers expressed concern about the emotions and finances that come with Parkinson’s and how a support group would be helpful. These same people then learned that Laramie and a surrounding town are starting a support group. I am so glad I was able to attend because I was able to learn more about Parkinson’s and how there are resources becoming more available to those that need them.

Adele Riley

Lab Assistant for Dr. Hidecker

Senior in Division of Communication Disorders

First Timer

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a national conference in the field of communication disorders. Going to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) conference in Denver Nov. 2015 was a truly inspiring academic event for me. It was my first time ever attending a professional and national conference, and I am so glad I got the opportunity to go. It was so large; 14,000 speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists had attended.

Along with the vast amount of professionals at the conference was the vast amount of presentations. I did my first poster presentation along with graduate student Allie Long and senior Chloe Storaci on our research, Expansion of the Communication Function Classification System to Adults and Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy. I was amazed with the attendees who came to our poster session, including a Greek researcher who is using our classification system. Along with the research and clinical posters were presentations ranging from technical courses (30 minutes) to two hour sessions. Listening to these presentations really expanded my knowledge on the field of communication disorders. I enjoyed listening to the presenters and people’s questions about clinical applications and future research.

One of the things that really inspired me was an event called Round Table discussions. This was a lunch event where undergraduates and graduate students who were interested in future doctoral work could ask established researchers questions and have discussions. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the advice that some of the researchers gave and it inspired me to possibly pursue a PhD in the future.

Overall, as a first timer, I thought the ASHA convention was a blast. Not only did I learn so much about my future profession, but I had great discussions, met SLPs from all over the world, and I had my first opportunity to present research. I am excited to attend this conference again in the future!

Clarissa Petres

Lab Assistant for Dr. Hidecker

Sophomore in Division of Communication Disorders

Embracing the ASHA 2015 Convention

After nearly three-and-a-half years in college, with only a semester of undergraduate education to go, you think you have your future profession pretty much all figured out. This is what I thought to myself while traveling to the 2015 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention. Little did I know, there is so much more to the field of speech-language pathology, beyond what you can learn in a classroom. I was pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed by over 14,000 professionals and researchers in attendance and hundreds of presentations pertaining to a variety of populations, classifications, and treatment approaches.

In an effort to make the most of my experience, I planned the sessions I would go to in advance. I wanted to attend a large variety of sessions from all areas of the field to better understand all of the emphases in speech-language pathology. I was successful in doing so for about half a day before I recognized where my heart truly lies: aphasia, dysphagia (swallowing), and traumatic brain injury. It also didn’t take long before I realized that it is impossible to learn everything. So while speech-language pathology may be a profession in which there are numerous foci, a professional must seek out significant education, research, and clinical experience to become an expert in any particular focus within the field. After this realization, I decided to target the sessions, posters, and tables I am most interested in. With each session on aphasia, dysphasia, and traumatic brain injury, I fell more and more in love with the possibility of one day working with clients who have been given these diagnoses and furthering innovative research in those same areas.

While many undergraduate students believe the ASHA Convention to be far too advanced for them, I would urge them to reconsider their attendance. With a minimal senior undergraduate level of knowledge, I attended intermediate level sessions and understood nearly all of what was discussed. Despite the brief moments of uncertainty, I made several invaluable connections with speech-language pathologists all across the country and confirmed my passion in the field.

Katelynne Adams

Lab Assistant for Dr. Hidecker

Senior in Division of Communication Disorders

College of Health Science Research Day, April 17, 2015

The College of Health Science held their annual Grand Rounds Research Day with 32 undergraduate and graduate student presenting their research. This interdisciplinary event allowed us the opportunity to see a variety of the research that is being conducted within the College of Health Sciences. I was honored to be surrounded by individuals who are not only passionate about their research but also want to share it with others. Likewise, I found the experience rewarding to receive so much support from our peers and professors. How fulfilling to be able to present research that you truly believe can better the lives of other individuals! (more…)

Presenting Research at the College of Health Science Research Day, April 17, 2015

Doing research can often be tedious, time consuming work. Due to the long process, you may sometimes feel like you never accomplish anything. Being able to present my research gives me that feeling of accomplishment, allowing me to summarize what I have been working so hard on. Making research posters to explain the research requires attention to detail, but all my fellow research assistants are very supportive and helped me through the process. (more…)

Freshman Should Embrace Research!

Experiencing new and unfamiliar environments is a major element in a young college student’s life. When I first joined Dr. Hidecker’s lab, I was only a freshman. Dr. Hidecker came into my Intro to Communication Disorders class and announced opportunities to work in her research environment. Shortly after joining her lab, she suggested that I undertake an individual research project. I was purely intimidated. However, my research experience this past year has promoted personal and professional growth by encouraging a variety of valuable and applicable skills early in my academic career. I actively had to learn statistical software, establish new technical skills, and increase my knowledge of research tools and resources. Working with data also required me to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills that researchers must obtain to hurdle obstacles as they arise. In addition to providing employment (EPSCoR Student Fellowship Fall 2014 & Spring 2015), this research has broadened my networking with faculty mentors and other students interested in research and publication opportunities, especially within the Division of Communication Disorders. (more…)

Calling all Students to Research

Students are important to research at the UW. They learn how research occurs and provide welcome support to a professor’s work. This Spring 2015 semester, four new undergraduate members joined Dr. Hidecker’s research lab in the Division of Communication Disorders, making a total of fifteen members. Read about my research students at


Freshmen to graduate students from any major are welcomed to participate in my lab. I hope all UW students will reach out to their professors and find out what exciting research opportunities are available.


Dry Creek Cluster: Setup

In December of 2013 I was presented with the opportunity to build a cluster with hardware and a graduate assistantship provided by Microsoft. When I started this project, I was very excited as I had never taken on a task so large, nor had I ever built a cluster even close to this size. In-fact, my only background with cluster management was on virtual clusters. Now I get to build a real cluster that will be used for research purposes. This blog series will provide my point of view throughout the entire build and administration process. (more…)

3D Cave

For the past several weeks, Kyle and I have been working with Vince and Nikhil to learn 3D modeling techniques for future implementation into the recently built “CAVE” in the School of Energy Resources. CAVE is an acronym for Cave Automatic Virtual Environment; it is a small, three-walled area within a larger room inside the Energy Innovation Center on the main UW campus. When the CAVE is up and running, projections displayed on each wall can show a simulated 3D environment to users wearing specially designed glasses, similar to those often worn in movie theaters. (more…)

Axthelm: Introduction

As I started to construct this blog post, I took a moment to think about my time here at the University of Wyoming. I think about the transition I took from high school to college to actually being a college student, to now being a researcher in a field I love. This has been a long journey but every moment has taught me something new and undoubtedly led me to where I am today. (more…)