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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

South Carolina: Doctoral Student Awarded Grant to Support Dissertation Research on Aphasia

Mr. Sigfus Kristinsson, a doctoral student in the communication sciences and disorders (COMD) department at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, has won a $25,000 grant from the Leifur Eriksson Foundation to support his dissertation research. The Iceland native will use the award to study aphasia, a communication disorder resulting from stroke or injury to the brain that impacts patients’ ability to speak, listen, read and/or write but does not affect intelligence.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the neurobiology of language, which is how language is represented in our brains,” says Mr. Kristinsson, who earned back-to-back bachelor’s (linguistics and literature) and master’s (speech language pathology) degrees in the field from the University of Iceland.

He then gained clinical experience at a rehabilitation center as a speech-language pathologist, primarily working with patients with neurogenic diseases (e.g., Parkinson’s disease, stroke, traumatic brain injury). It was during this time that Mr. Kristinsson became increasingly interested in aphasia and the neurological basis of the disorder — prompting him to research PhD programs to continue his study.

The graduate research assistant is working on several projects in the Aphasia Lab, including research on the connection between brain damage and sentence comprehension in individuals with aphasia, how a certain genotype impacts aphasia, and the predictability of prognosis for those with the condition. He’s also continuing a multi-year, funded project in Iceland examining the quality of life of individuals with and without aphasia after stroke — an understudied topic in his homeland.

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