Skip to content
Home >> People >> People of UW-Madison

People of UW-Madison

Jan Edwards, Principal Investigator

My research aims to better understand phonological development - the process of learning to talk - in preschool children. Although most adults take the ability to speak for granted, children who are learning language must actually acquire and synthesize a complex system of sounds, words, and social understanding. This webpage describes my research on typically developing children and children with cochlear implants. For more information on my research on children with autism spectrum disorders, see

David Kaplan, Co-Principal Investigator

My current program of research focuses on the development and testing of Bayesian statistical methods in experimental and observational settings.  My recent work has focused on Bayesian propensity score modeling to improve causal inferences in observational settings as well as Bayesian approaches to structural equation modeling.  I am also interested in the development of Bayesian informative hypotheses to guide model assessment in experimental studies.

Tatiana Thonesavanh, Outreach and Visit Coordinator

I am a recent UW-Madison graduate with a degree in Human Development and Family studies with an emphasis on Child Development.  I have become more interested in speech and language development with bilingual children and its relationship to literacy.  I am looking forward to exploring further research in the Learning to Talk Lab.

Nancy Wermuth, Project Manager


As a  Speech-Language Pathologist, Associate Lecturer and, Senior Research Specialist in the field of Communication Science, my area of professional interest continues to be helping people communicate. As Project Manager for the Learning to Talk Lab my job is helping the Project Researchers as they work to better understand the process of learning to talk. Please contact me with questions about recruitment, study, or to participate in Learning To Talk projects!

Patrick Reidy, Post-Doctoral Researcher

I am a post-doctoral researcher in the department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.  The goal of my research is to understand how typically developing children and children with cochlear implants learn to produce consonant sounds, such as those at the beginnings of the words: sea, she, tea, and key.  Toward this end, I apply psychoacoustic and computational models to characterize how consonants become more and more differentiated from each other during language acquisition.  Since joining the Learning to Talk Lab, I have begun researching how the linguistic input received by a child affects their speech development.

Michelle Erskine

I am a PhD student in the department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, with an M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I will continue my academic studies in a doctoral program in Hearing and Speech Sciences at the University of Maryland-College Park. My master's thesis is entitled "Phonological Awareness Development in Preschool Children Explained." My research interests include phonological acquisition in children younger than age 5, and the correlation between early phonological development and later literacy skills.

Allie Johnson, Graduate Student

I am a recent graduate from UW's MS/PhD Speech and Language Pathology program, with an MS in Speech-Language Pathology. I plan to continue my PhD research with Jan Edwards at the University of Maryland-College Park. My Master's thesis is entitled “Roburstness: Quantifying robustness of the [t]-[k] contrast in children and adults.” I am interested in the cognitive mechanisms (such as attention and memory) that underlie language acquisition, specifically for lexical and phonological processing. I am also interested in how socioeconomic factors influence early development of language and literacy skills. My role in the lab involves working on the administrative team and collecting data.

L2T would like to extend its congratulations to Allison for receiving the Emma Allen Fellowship Award!