January 29, 2020
Associate Professor Sarah Poissant has been appointed Interim Chair of the Department of Communication Disorders. She assumes the position previously held by Professor Karen Helfer, who stepped down to begin her work in the Chancellor's Leadership Fellow program.
“I’m delighted to have Sarah assume this important leadership position. She is an excellent teacher, mentor and researcher and has the ability to lead the department during this time,” says Anna Maria Siega-Riz, Dean of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences. “I also want to thank Karen Helfer for her service as chair for the last four years, and for her commitment to the department and the SPHHS over many years. We look forward to her return to the leadership ranks after completing this important fellowship program.”
Poissant, who joined the department in 1999, had previously served as the department's graduate program director. Her research seeks to maximize access to the speech signal for adults and children with hearing loss, regardless of which personal sensory device they use. Most of her recent work in the cochlear implant lab has aimed to fully understand how the characteristics of reverberation and masking negatively impact speech understanding in cochlear implant recipients and to provide recommendations for ways in which acoustic environments can be controlled for the users’ benefit. The pediatric portion of her research program is continuing to expand as she examines novel approaches to assessing very young and other difficult-to-test populations and begin to work with children with unilateral hearing loss who have unique listening challenges, but who also share some of the same barriers to accessing the speech signal as cochlear implant users.