Psychology Master's Student Earns NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Grace Gervino '23 MS presents at the Graduate Student Research Symposium
Grace Gervino '23 MS

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova Psychology master's student Grace Gervino '23 MS earned a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF-GRF) for her research examining the neural bases of stuttering. The NSF-GRFP is the country’s oldest fellowship program that directly supports graduate students in various STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. Gervino's application was selected out of a national pool of applicants as one of the best in her field.

"I am interested in impairments of speech motor control and how abnormalities of the motor and auditory system relate to the neurodevelopmental disorder stuttering," Gervino says. "My thesis examined the role of the corollary discharge during speech planning among adults who stutter and adults with typical speech production. In typical developing adults, the corollary discharge allows the brain to predict the sensory consequences that are associated with the execution of the planned motor movements. Using the event-related potential technique, my thesis investigated whether a delay in the transmission of the corollary discharge may give rise to stuttering. Specifically, we hypothesized that a delay in the corollary discharge may lead to an inaccurate prediction of when auditory feedback will occur. This inaccurate prediction may disrupt the speech motor system and give rise to stuttered speech."

Gervino developed the framework for this research under the guidance of her advisor, Associate Professor Joseph Toscano, PhD.

"Grace's NSF Graduate Research Fellowship is a significant achievement, and we are all very proud of her," says Graduate Program Director and Professor Irene Kan, PhD. "Congratulations to Grace and also to Dr. Joseph Toscano, her research mentor."

Gervino plans to pursue this line of research in a doctoral program in the fall.

Learn more about the Villanova Graduate Program in Psychology.


About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.

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