CHS Safe and Smart Restart: we are committed to providing an exceptional educational experience while safeguarding the health of our community.

Nikki Etter, PhD, CCC-SLP

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Pennsylvania State University

Communication Sciences and Disorders (Master's degree), '09

Rehabilitation Sciences Doctoral Program, 2014


What is your current title?

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Pennsylvania State University

What are your primary responsibilities?

My primary responsibilities are a balance of teaching, research and service. I am currently focusing on teaching and mentoring first year graduate students and writing grant application and manuscripts. I enjoy working with students in my lab and running new study protocols in the Orofacial Physiology and Perceptual Analysis Lab (OPPAL).

Why did you choose the College of Health Sciences for your studies?

I initially came to the University of Kentucky to complete my master’s degree because of its great reputation in our field and its status in producing high quality research. I decided to stay for my doctoral work because I loved the idea of an interdisciplinary program that allowed me to train with other rehabilitation science professionals. A big part of that decision was the people I met at UK. I had fantastic mentors and colleagues and knew I could be happy and successful there.

Do you have any concerns about things in your current field? If so, what are they?

Overall I think we have seen some extremely positive strides forward in our field over the last several years with increasing numbers of doctorates, and increasing women in doctoral position, and high quality bench and clinical research. We are consistently ranked in the list of top jobs in the country. Some concerns I have as a researcher are decreases in opportunities for federal funding and the translation of our work from the lab to the field. I hope we can develop better means for disseminating our research findings to inform and influence clinical practice to continue to move our field forward.

What do you hope to accomplish in your new position?

Being at the very beginning of both this position and my academic career as a whole, I hope to continue to progress my current line of research and develop my teaching skills. I want to begin to build my reputation as a valuable researcher and leader in my chosen field of study, a good mentor to my students and a positive colleague to my peers.

What do you do in your spare time/or what are your hobbies?

In my spare time (ha, right?), I like to read, listen to great music from local bands, visit a winery or two, and of course watch football and basketball. Go CATS!

Do you have any advice for students interested in the CSD field?

Communication is the foundation of all our relationships and helping people to be able to communicate with their loved ones is incredibly rewarding. As far as advice goes, if you’re interested in CSD, try to observe a variety of clients in multiple settings. Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists work in so many different arenas that there is a lot to explore before you find your specialty and passion in our field.