Courtney Venker Teacher-Scholar Award

Courtney Venker
Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, College of Communication Arts and Sciences

Courtney Venker has established herself as an exceptional teacher, highly engaged mentor and outstanding scholar.

The recipient of an Early Career Research Award from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the National Institutes of Health, Venker’s current research focuses on language development in children with autism spectrum disorder, with an emphasis on how these children integrate auditory and visual information to learn the meanings of words.

Venker has been a pioneer in using eye tracking to understand language acquisition in children with neurodevelopmental disorders. A recent tutorial she published on the subject will have lasting impact on how future research is conducted. 

Equally important is a novel theory, called auditory-visual misalignment, which she and her colleagues proposed to explain why language delays occur in children with autism.

This groundbreaking work integrates findings across multiple labs studying language and attention. The work is insightful, pushing the field toward a deeper understanding of communication challenges in children with autism.

Venker has a deep commitment to the undergraduate and graduate students that she teaches and mentors. In her courses for master’s students, she combines her scholarly expertise with innovative teaching practices that motivate students to excel.

Her stated goal for master’s students is that they develop the strong critical thinking skills needed by speech-language pathologists engaging with children with language disorders. As a certified speech-language pathologist herself, Venker appreciates the challenging clinical situations that her students will face and integrates her scholarly expertise with the practical needs of the clinical environment.

An accomplished researcher and teacher whose work will positively affect the lives of children with autism by shaping the clinical practice of speech-language pathologists, Courtney Venker amplifies her positive impact even further by training students who will become therapists that serve these children.

For her commitment to children with autism through research and in training those who will serve them, Courtney Venker is most deserving of the Michigan State University Teacher-Scholar Award.


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