Intonation in infancy
As a University of Maine undergraduate,
Jessica Weed maintained a 3.96 grade point average in communication
sciences and disorders, and elementary education. But it was her
commitment to laboratory research that helped her to land a fellowship
in the Speech-Language Pathology Program at Purdue University, and the
opportunity to present her original research findings at a professional
conference this fall.
The Deer Isle, Maine, native, who graduated from UMaine in May, was
selected for the two-year Purdue University Andrews Fellowship, which
provides a $12,855 stipend annually. She will use the fellowship to
study for a combined master's degree and doctorate in speech pathology.
With the fellowship, Weed will further the research she conducted for
her UMaine honors thesis on vocalizations in babies who do and do not
have hearing impairments.
Weed's undergraduate thesis focused on pitch and intonation (i.e., the
way people's voices rise at the end of a sentence when they ask a
question). Research has demonstrated that pitch and intonation are
different for adults with normal hearing and adults who are
hearing-impaired. Weed's research seeks to discover if the same is true
for hearing and hearing-impaired infants. The results could shed light
on when the differences develop, which could lead to more effective
assessment and intervention protocols.
Because this sort of research on infants is so new, Weed had to refine
existing methodology to analyze infants' pitch and intonation. She will
present her research, including the methodology she developed, at the
American Speech-Language and Hearing Association international
conference in Atlanta, Ga., Nov. 21-24.
Weed was attracted to Purdue's graduate program in speech-language
pathology because of the research conducted there on cochlear implants
and speech development.
Cochlear implants are put directly into the ears of people who are
severely deaf. The implants stimulate nerves that can improve hearing.
The research at Purdue is focusing on the language development of
infants who have received the implants.
Birth of the Appalachians
There's a historical boundary line in the western Maine woods that's
unmarked by fences or signs, but it's unmistakable to University of
Maine graduate student Chris Gerbi.
The line divides some of the oldest rocks in Maine from those that form
the much younger, surrounding landscape. Known to geologists as the
Chain Lakes massif, this ancient terrain is the largest of its type in
the Appalachians and may provide important clues to the processes that
gave birth to the mountains.
Gerbi, who is from Concord, N.H., and his advisor, Scott Johnson, UMaine
assistant professor of structural geology and tectonics, have a National
Science Foundation grant to study the massif. Their goal is to
understand the forces that, over hundreds of millions of years, have
pushed and pulled this part of the North American landscape into its
The 250-square-mile area is located between Jackman and Eustis, Maine,
and extends northwest into Quebec. The granitic rocks of the massif are
more than 450 million years old.
Geologists don't know what collided with North America to start the
Appalachian mountain building cycle. It's likely that the rocks of the
massif were initially formed from sediments that accumulated in a
depression off the coast. However, what happened next isn't clear.
Gerbi and Johnson will study a lump of that ancient sea floor that still
sits on top of the massif just west of Eustis. How Boil Mountain arrived
on top of the older terrain is a mystery that Gerbi and Johnson would
like to solve.