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Team: Lab Members

SSR Lab Members


Director, SSR Lab

Deanna Britton (she/her) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences at Portland State University (PSU), and at the Northwest Center for Voice & Swallowing in the Department of Otolaryngology (NWCVS) – Head & Neck Surgery at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland, Oregon. She is Board Certified in Neurogenic Communication Disorders in Adults by the Academy of Neurological Communication Disorders and Sciences (ANCDS). Dr. Britton’s research interests include respiratory support for speech and swallowing.


Second Year Graduate Student

Sandra Rios-Ayala is a second year graduate student.  Sandra's interests include speech-language pathology with medical and bilingual concentrations. Sandra is a BUILD EXITO alumni and was introduced to research in partnership with BUILD EXITO. Sandra is assisting on a project focusing on the true vocal fold movements during cough. Her experience with BUILD EXITO, the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program, and the Speech, Swallowing, and Respiration Lab have supported her with her plans for continuing with research.


Undergraduate Student

Karyssa Stonick (she/her) is an undergraduate student at Portland State University pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Speech and Hearing Sciences who is excited to be joining the Speech, Swallowing, and Respiration Lab. She has a strong clinical interest in pursuing medical speech language pathology, and a research interest in exploring the interconnections between the many body systems involved in speech, swallowing, and respiration. Karyssa’s own experiences as a patient have inspired her passion for the field, her desire to contribute to the emerging understandings, and her drive to raise awareness and advocate for conditions that are rare, lesser known, or misunderstood like Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), Dysautonomia, Sjogren’s Syndrome, chronic and invisible illnesses, and more. Outside of the lab and school, Karyssa enjoys spending much of her time going to the Oregon Coast, participating in water sports — kayaking, swimming, boogie boarding, surfing, paddle boarding, skimboarding, and more — doing photography, and playing cards.

Overcoming Adversity --  A video about Karyssa’s experience with overcoming the adversity and obstacles presented by her chronic illnesses:


Organs, Tissues, & Other Issues Podcast


Second Year Graduate Student

Diana Lopez is a second year graduate student who is very excited to be joining the SSR Lab and researching dysphagia.  Diana's clinical interests lie in working primarily with adults with swallowing disorders and aphasia, especially serving Spanish-speaking populations.  They are also interested in research of swallowing disorders in multicultural and multilingual populations.  Aside from school, Diana also lovers to read, hang out by the water and listen to music.


First Year Graduate Student

Anna Thut is a first-year graduate student in the Speech and Hearing Sciences program who is excited to be joining the Speech, Swallowing, and Respiration Lab. Anna's clinical interests lie in adult and pediatric dysphagia and voice disorders, and she hopes to stay involved with research throughout her career. Anna loves living in the Pacific Northwest and enjoys camping, hiking, and reading during her time off school. 


Undergraduate Student

Joseph Alonso was born and raised in the Portland Metro Area where he graduated from West Linn High School. He enjoyed his time in AP Law and participated in sports. He is currently enrolled at Portland State University and studying Speech and Hearing Sciences where he wishes to pursue a career in Speech Pathology. He wants to work with children with disabilities. He has worked with a company called Rise Inc. where he has taken care of young adults with Autism. During his work with those within the Autism spectrum, he has helped with their ability to reach goals and achieve a better sense of communication. He is currently working in a lab focusing on vocal fold immobility on coughing as well as participating in other labs and activities. In his free time he gives to the homeless and others in need, in a project with the Seventh-Day Adventist church. 


Second Year Graduate Student

Nichole graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Akron in 2021 after completing a BA in Speech-Language Pathology and a BA in Spanish.  She additionally completed two certificates of concentrated course work in Manual Communications and Advanced Spanish for the Health Professions and First Responders.

As Master of Science degree candidate, Nichole moved over 2,500 miles across the country to pursue a program with concentrations in bilingual and medical speech-language pathology. After graduation, she aims to work with and support people impacted by dysphagia in both pediatric and adult populations. 

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