This semester, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is welcoming more than 140 new faculty.
A doctoral graduate from the University of Iowa who grew up in Glencoe, Illinois, Naomi Rodgers is joining Nebraska as an assistant professor of special education and communication disorders.
Rodgers will teach an undergraduate course on phonological disorders in the fall before leading a graduate course on fluency disorders in the spring. Amid preparing for class and coordinating research efforts, Rodgers took time to answer a few questions about her career interests and aspirations as a Husker.
How would you describe your primary research interests? How did those interests develop?
My research focuses on the psycho-social aspects of stuttering. While stuttering manifests as atypical disruptions to the forward flow of speech, it is not merely a speech disorder; it hugely affects how a person thinks and feels about themselves and communication more broadly.
My personal experiences as a person who stutters and professional experiences as a speech-language pathologist inspire the work that I do.
Why did you decide to apply for a position at Nebraska?
I was drawn to Nebraska’s national reputation for generating quality research, as well as its resources that help contribute to those successes. I was also excited about my program, Communication Disorders, being housed within the same department as Special Education. I envisioned this unique pairing leading to many opportunities for cross-discipline collaborations and holistic clinical training for students.
Had you previously spent any time in Lincoln? If not, what’s your early impression of the city?
My interview at the university was my first visit to Lincoln. My first impressions: People are friendlier than any other place on Earth, and everything is 15 minutes away.
What are you most looking forward to doing in your first semester or year at Nebraska?
In my first year, I am eager to establish my research lab, apply for early career grants, increase stuttering awareness in the Lincoln community, and get students excited about the art and science of stuttering therapy and research.
What would you consider an important long-term goal in terms of your research, teaching or outreach?
My long-term goal for my research is to enhance our understanding of the myriad ways that stuttering affects psycho-social outcomes for people who stutter and to figure out ways to promote their psycho-social well-being.
While speech-language pathologists often report that stuttering is the communication disorder they feel the least competent treating, my long-term teaching goal is to inspire students to embrace, not shy away from, the complexity of stuttering by approaching their clients who stutter as the “experts.”
My long-term goal outreach goal is to form community partnerships to create a strong network of support for Nebraskans who stutter through education, advocacy and self-help.
Anything else you’d like to add?
If you or someone you know stutters and would like to connect with other people who stutter or get involved in stuttering research, please reach out!