University of South Florida

College of Behavioral and Community Sciences


Undergraduate students awarded funding for research projects

Scholarship recipients

Left to right: Sally Selevan, Danielle Lagana, Emely Hernandez, Nicole Brborich, Isabella Roa, Stephanee Aggor

Nine CBCS students have been awarded Undergraduate Research Scholarship Awards through The Moms Project and Florida High Tech Corridor to support their research projects related to well-being, positive aging, and quality of life.

Four students were awarded through the Moms Project: Langauge, speech, and hearing sciences students Nicole Brborich, Emely Hernandez, Isabella Rios, and ASL interpreting student Alexandria Smith.

Nicole Brborich conducted a study that implemented an intervention to enhance the narrative production and comprehension skills of Spanish-English bilingual children. By improving these skills, the intervention aimed to improve the children's ability to understand and analyze narrative stories and comprehend academic content, in both Spanish and English. 

Emely Hernandez's area of research is positive aging and quality of life​, and she hopes to support bilingual children with her work. 

“We are working towards creating Spanish NLM (Narrative Language Measures) assessments that are equal to its English counterparts for bilingual children," Hernandez said. "Our goal is to enhance both of their languages during some of their most crucial developmental years.” ​

Isabella Rios' research also focuses on developing Spanish NLM assessments in the form of stories. She is creating these stories for children in kindergarten through 2nd grade to ensure they are parallel to their English versions concerning story grammar and language complexity.

Department of Child and Family Studies Associate Professor Trina Spencer, PhD, BCBA-D and Assistant Professor Matthew Foster, PhD mentored Nicole Brborich, Emely Hernandez, and Isabella Rios.

Alexandria Smith's research is producing a biopsychosocial medical model for Deaf individuals to preserve and respect Deaf culture and the community.​ Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Program Director Chih-Chin Chou​, PhD, CRC served as her mentor.

Five students received scholarships through the Florida High Tech Corridor: Danielle Lagana, Sally Selevan, Sienna Tyson, Stephanee Aggor, and Jolie Visgaitis. 

ASL Interpreting major Danielle Lagana's research project is conducted in the USF Neurophysiology of Aging Lab under the mentorship of Professor and Associate Dean Jennifer Lister, PhD, CCC-A, FAAA. Her study longitudinally explores potential early indicators of cognitive change in a diverse population of older adults. It hypothesizes that auditory processing, mood, sleep health, linguistic features, hearing loss, and loneliness can help predict cognitive change. 

Sally Selevan, who is studying aging sciences and language, speech, and hearing sciences​, will examine three research projects focused on aging and cognitive health evaluation in elders with hearing loss. Selevan's mentors are Assistant Professor Michelle Arnold, AuD, PhD, CCC-A; Assistant Professor Victoria Sanchez, PhD, AuD, CCC-A, FAAA; and Assistant Professor Haley Neil, AuD.

"My work has the potential to impact clinical practice and improve the quality of life for older adults with hearing loss," Selevan said.

Language, speech, and hearing sciences​ major Sienna Tyson is studying the behavioral and neuroscientific aspects of language performance across the lifespan. She will be researching these features of language performance using discourse-level language tasks and functional near-infrared spectroscopy. Her mentor is Assistant Professor Hana Kim, PhD.

Jolie Visgaitis is conducting research in partnership with the Glazer Children’s Museum in downtown Tampa. Her research team has collected data from observations of 263 child-caregiver dyads in order to measure museum engagement. By observing children of all ages as well as caregivers of all ages, this research study aims to enhance positive, meaningful relationships across generations. Visgaitis is currently studying communication sciences and disorders and was mentored by Trina Spencer, PhD, BCBA-D.

Criminology major Stephanee Aggor is working with Professor George Burruss​, PhD to research technology and crime, and cybercrime. Their work involves understanding human behavior and how technology is used to commit crimes, exploit others, and exhibit aberrant behaviors. It will also examine cybercrime victimization and its impact on well-being.​

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About College of Behavioral & Community Sciences News

The Mission of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS) is to advance knowledge through interdisciplinary teaching, research, and service that improves the capacity of individuals, families, and diverse communities to promote productive, satisfying, healthy, and safe lives across the lifespan. CBCS envisions the college as a globally recognized leader that creates innovative solutions to complex conditions that affect the behavior and well-being of individuals, families, and diverse communities.