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Meet Our Students

2023 Cohort


Javier Reyes
Mentor: Anny Castilla-Earls

Javier Reyes is a linguist born in Bogota, Colombia. He obtained his professional degree in Linguistics from the National University of Colombia (Universidad Nacional de Colombia), and his master’s degree on Hispanic Linguistics from the National Distance Education University (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, UNED) in Spain. After working as a Linguistics professor with the Speech and Language Pathology undergraduate program in Manuela Beltran University (Universidad Manuela Beltrán) for more than eight years, Javier moved to Houston from Bucaramanga (Colombia) with the goal of continuing to build a sound academic career in language acquisition and disorders. As a professional in linguistics, he has a broad range of academic interests within language processing and production, but he is focusing on language development and disorders in bilingual Hispanic (English-Spanish) language users at the morphosyntactic level, while acknowledging the importance of phonology as a source for linguistic form. Javier enjoys spending time with his wife and family, and he aims to become faculty in the future.


Vijaya Vijayan

Vijaya Varshaa Vijayan
Mentor: Amber Thiessen

Vijaya Varshaa Vijayan is from India. She has an undergraduate degree in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology and a master’s in Speech-Language Pathology. She completed both degrees from the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH), Mysore, India. She worked as a speech-language pathologist in a hospital in New Delhi, India. Her area of interest lies in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), especially around recent advancements in AAC devices incorporating Artificial Intelligence as well as in Brain-Computer Interface. She likes gardening, cooking, and having quality time with family in her free time.


2022 Cohort

Lisa W

Lisa Becerra
Mentor: Amber Thiessen

Lisa Beccera-Walker is a certified and licensed speech language pathologist with over 10 years of experience in autism and related disorders across the life span of individuals on the spectrum. Lisa is also the program director for TEAM MARIO, a non-profit autism awareness organization in the lower Rio Grande Valley. She enjoys providing training for school districts, law enforcement organizations, companies, and non-profit organizations in the areas of autism acceptance, autism in the workplace, challenging behavior, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), and social skills. She has authored several peer-reviewed articles and has recently authored a textbook chapter in challenging behavior and AAC. Lisa has also participated in state, national, and international research presentations and looks forward to continuing research in the area of AAC.


Brandi Becoats

Brandi BeCoats
Mentor: Lynn Maher

Brandi BeCoats is a licensed speech-language pathologist from Nashville, Tennessee. She holds a bachelors and masters degree in communication sciences and disorders from a Historically Black College or University, Tennessee State University. Her personal experience with a family member's difficult rehabilitation journey after multiple strokes led Brandi to her research interests in aphasia, aging, stroke rehabilitation and neurogenic disorders. Brandi works primarily with adults in skilled nursing facilities and rehabilitation hospitals across the spectrum of disorders and severities. She is also a passionate community educator, presenting need-to-know content on topics such as dementia and aging. Brandi enjoys trying new foods, running, and making vlogs.


Kathleen Bradbury

Kathleen Bradbury
Mentor: Heather Dial

Kathleen Bradbury graduated in 2019 from Rice University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cognitive Sciences, minoring in Neuroscience, with a Distinction in Research and Creative Work. After graduating, she worked as a research assistant at the Nantz National Alzheimer Center at Houston Methodist Hospital, focusing on neuropsychological testing and neuroimaging in patients with primary progressive aphasia. Kathleen’s research interests include determining neurological, linguistic, and cognitive measures that predict aphasia recovery, with the goal of improving patients' functional outcomes. Outside of work, she enjoys board games, sports, and spending time with friends and family. 


Rui Fan

Ruiqing “Stephanie” Fan
Mentor: Ashwini Joshi

Ruiqing 'Stephanie' Fan is a clinical fellow and a Ph.D. student at the University of Houston. Her research interests include the post-surgical rehabilitation of phonomicrosurgery and integrating machine learning to improve the care of patients with voice disorders.


J Flores

Janelle Flores
Mentor: Anny Castilla-Earls

Janelle Beth Flores, MS, CCC-SLP, holds a master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from Texas Woman’s University, a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from the University of Texas at Austin, and a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a concentration in Neuroscience from the University of Texas at San Antonio. As an SLP, she has practiced in home health, school, and university clinic settings. Janelle’s research interests include cognition, appropriate assessment, and advocacy of best practices for culturally and linguistically diverse populations with typical and atypical language development. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her dog, reading, and playing musical instruments.


Sofia Machado

Sofia Hein Machado
Mentor: Ferenc Bunta

Sofia Hein Machado comes from Brazil and has clinical experience working in both speech-language pathology and audiology settings, specifically with Deaf and hard of hearing children. She obtained her degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences and has been participating in academic projects related to language and people with disabilities since then. Her first language is Portuguese, and she is a multilingual bimodal speaker with a mixture of spoken and signed languages. Sofia is passionate for education and volunteer in a non-profit association that helps Brazilian young people to study abroad. Her research interests center on language outcomes for bilingual Deaf and hard of hearing children who use cochlear implants.


2020 Cohort

Abigail Dueppen

Abigail Dueppen
Mentor: Ashwini Joshi

Abigail Dueppen is a coloratura soprano who has performed in national and international houses to critical acclaim. She holds her Bachelor of Music degree with academic distinction in vocal performance and music education from the Eastman School of Music and her Master of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music. Additionally, Dueppen is a licensed and certified speech language pathologist specializing in voice disorders. She obtained her Master of Science degree in speech language pathology from Lamar University. Dueppen completed her externship at the world-renowned Texas Voice Center at Houston Methodist Hospital, where she now serves as a speech-language pathologist/clinical singing voice specialist working with patients with voice disorders. Her research interests include voice science, rehabilitation for the performing voice, vocal pedagogy and vocology.  

Michelle Hernandez

Michelle Hernandez
Mentor: Anny Castilla-Earls

Originally from the Bronx, Michelle Hernandez is a second-generation immigrant from the Dominican Republic. She moved to Houston to complete her clinical fellowship and pursue a Ph.D. In her spare time, Hernandez enjoys cooking, crocheting and hiking. She comes from a Spanish-speaking home and is committed to identifying appropriate practices for bilingual school-aged children with language impairments. She is looking forward to working with the UH COMD department and her cohort as she enters this new and exciting chapter.