As an undergraduate student, Jing Yang, PhD, was not aware of the field of communication sciences and disorders, but now she has become an assistant professor. Her journey from her undergraduate years as a Chinese Language and Literature major to her PhD in Speech and Hearing Science has led her to become the newest faculty member in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the College of Health Sciences.
Foundation of a career
Yang started her education at Hunan University of Science and Technology. While earning her BA in Chinese Language and Literature, she realized that she was more interested in learning about language than she was about literature.
With this knowledge, she began working toward her MA in Experimental Phonetics at the Institute of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. While earning her degree, Yang had the opportunity to participate in a summer program where a visiting professor from the United States taught an introduction to communication sciences and disorders course.
Yang was fascinated by the field’ focus on helping people in everyday situations. She was drawn to the idea that using applied phonetics and acoustics could help individuals better their lives. She talked to the professor after class. Although the professor’s words were not very encouraging, she decided to apply to PhD programs anyway.
Yang was accepted into The Ohio State University and earned her PhD in Speech and Hearing Science. She then worked as a faculty member at the University of Central Arkansas for four years before coming to UWM this past fall.
Transitioning to Milwaukee
Coming to Milwaukee has been a positive experience for Yang. She enjoys the city life, and thinks the urban space is dynamic and full of opportunity.
Yang has enjoyed teaching phonetics and speech science to undergraduates at UWM. She explains that her favorite professional moments are when “I see students from previous semesters and they thankfully tell me they learned a lot in my class. These encounters remind me why I love teaching.”
Coming to UWM has also been good for Yang’s research. She has her own lab with a sound booth and has been able to network with the large population of international students at UWM. This connection helps her build upon her research about second language acquisition.
A promising research agenda
Yang is involved in two different lines of research. The first area is research helping individuals with second language acquisition. She works with international students and community members who are learning a second language to improve speech intelligibility and acquire language in an effective way.
The other line of research Yang pursues is working with children with cochlear implants who speak Mandarin. She is collaborating with Li Xu, MD, from Ohio University to study the speech development patterns of children with cochlear implants.
In the future, Yang hopes to expand her research about the speech development of children with cochlear implants to English-speaking children. She sees the Milwaukee area as a space for potential future collaborations. Yang explains that “I appreciate the support I am receiving from my department, and I am excited to continue my research in Milwaukee.”