Our Team

Kittie Verdolini Abbott, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator
Email: kittie@udel.edu

My focus is voice and voice disorders. My interests stem from my history as vocal performer as singer and actor. As many occupational voice users, I sustained vocal impairment in my youth, which led to my pursuit of speech-language pathology for possible illumination and remediation. My studies and clinical practice have led me to critical observations that I believe can inform our clinical practice in voice and voice disorders. Essential work has involved research in hydration, biomechanics, physiology, and emotions in voice. My interests have spanned professional and other adult voice users, and more recently, pediatric voice. Work in my lab has been supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1997.

Nassim Ahmadi, Ph.D.
Lab Manager
Email: nassim@udel.edu

Nassim Ahmadi, is a Visiting Scholar in CSCD, currently working as a study coordinator and lab manager at UD voice and motor learning lab. She earned her BSc, MSc, and PhD in Speech-Language Pathology from Iran University of Medical Sciences. Her primary focus in her journey has been functional voice disorders and muscle tension dysphonia in professional voice users. Recognizing the significance of a collaborative approach, she established Iran’s first Vocology Center in 2016, assembling a multidisciplinary team including a laryngologist, a voice coach, a Speech Pathologist and a dietitian. Over time, her work in clinical settings and teaching at the university level sparked curiosity, pushing her to dive into research to find answers. Her doctoral research, supervised by Dr. Katherine Verdolini, centered on evaluating the efficacy of her novel therapy approach, “edge therapy,” for patients with muscle tension dysphonia. Despite residing away from her home country, Nassim remains committed to serving her patients and students remotely. She conducts voice workshops tailored for SLPs and professional voice users while actively engaging with her audience on Instagram, boasting over 10K followers. Psychology is another big interest of hers. Also, she enjoys hiking in nature with her husband. 

Martín Vivero
Email: martinv@udel.edu

Martín Vivero is a Speech and Language Pathologist with a Diploma in Vocology. In Chile, his country of origin, he had the chance to work at the Hospital del Salvador for four years, one of the oldest and largest public hospitals in the country, place where he could develop his skills as a clinician and as an instructor for future generations of SLPs from Universidad de Chile. As a member of the ENT team, he treated a great array of patients with voice, speech and swallowing disorders, as well as people with hearing impairment. He also collaborated in several researches and led a variety of sessions in the hospital, universities and ENT/voice-related conferences. Additionally, his profound and long-lasting interest in singing and music has motivated him to pursue constant musical training, influencing his work as a clinician and as a researcher. Currently, his research aims to address brain mechanisms involved in voice therapy and training, including topics such as memory, learning, music and singing.

Aude Cardona

Aude Cardona received her Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from Manhattan School of Music. She is a mezzo-soprano who has performed both classically and in collaboration with hip hop/pop recording artists. She is a former teacher of voice at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and has taught voice privately in New York, Paris, and Berlin. She is a Certified Iyengar yoga teacher following a three-year training program and has conducted yoga workshops for vocalists in New York City at the Manhattan School of Music and elsewhere. She is recognized as a Certified Vocologist by the National Center for Voice and Speech. Her research interests center on yoga, meditation, and voice, with particular focus on the role of interoception.

Lab Alumni

Umit Dasdogen

Ümit Daşdöğen began his career in acting in Turkey, earning an acting diploma from Müjdat Gezen Art Center Conservatory in Istanbul. He then earned a BA in opera performance from Istanbul University State Conservatory and a post-graduate degree in singing from the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Related employment included working as a singer in the Vienna State Opera and as an actor at Istanbul Municipal Theatres. Ümit then decided to shift his focus from acting and vocal performance to speech and voice science. He pursued an MS in Speech-Language Pathology from West Virginia University. Practicum experience there involved providing services at WVU’s Ruby Memorial Hospital and HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital. Following his master’s degree, he pursued a Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Delaware under the supervision of Dr. Katherine Verdolini Abbott. During his doctoral studies, he conducted research in the field of voice and speech, focusing on topics such as the influence of multisensory input on voice, using Virtual Reality technology in clinical and training practices, professional vocal performance, voice training, voice acoustics, neural structures, functions of voice, and motor control and learning of voice production. After completing his doctoral studies, Ümit completed his clinical fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital, Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and serves as the Speech Division Research Director of the Mount Sinai Grabscheid Voice and Swallowing Center.

Hagar Feinstein 

Hagar Feinstein is an Israeli SLP licensed by the Israeli Ministry of Health. She is interested in pediatric voice and specifically voice as a major component of communication. Her main interest is in the connection between language and cognitive development and voice, and the effect of these factors on voice disorders and voice treatment in young children. Her clinical experience working with children at risk and their families highlighted the importance of direct intervention in voice disorders in young children and the need for theoretical and clinical knowledge in this domain. In addition to treating children with voice disorders, she has also treated children with different types of developmental difficulties including language impairments, childhood apraxia of speech, speech disorders, stuttering, and autism. She is dedicated to the proposition that as clinicians we should treat based on cutting edge knowledge and she aspires to contribute to the evolution of pediatric voice treatment to help children and their families. She graduated in 2023 from the Communication Sciences and Disorders program at the University of Delaware.

Marianna (Annie) Rubino

Marianna (Annie) Rubino, MFA, PhD, CCC-SLP graduated in February 2023. She has a BA in English Literature from the College of the Holy Cross, an MFA in Acting from The University of Houston PATP, and an MS in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from New York University. Annie has acted professionally in New York City (off-Broadway), Chicago, Washington DC, Houston, and Milwaukee. She has multiple Shakespeare, contemporary theatre, sketch comedy, improv comedy, movie, TV, and commercial credits. She is a member of the stage actors’ union, Actors’ Equity. Annie is a 7+ year ongoing adjunct course lead and instructor with New York University’s online master’s program in Communicative Sciences and Disorders where she teaches Motor Speech Disorders and Advanced Voice Disorders. Currently, she is completing a postdoctoral research fellowship in the lab of Dr. Ashwini Joshi at The University of Houston regarding identity, phonotraumatic voice disorders, and therapy outcomes.

Christopher Apfelbach

Christopher Apfelbach’s interest in clinical voice disorders began after he sustained a vocal injury as an undergraduate classical singer. Parallel interests in exercise science and physical training, developed during his time as an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, led him to consider how voice disorders might respond to broader physiological changes. His LLC, Apfelbach Voice & Language, focuses on providing voice lessons for singers recovering from vocal injury, as well as speech-language therapy services for fluency disorders, augmentative and alternative communication, and voice. At the moment, his research focuses on endocrinology, vocal fatigue, muscle tension dysphonia, and the biology of chronic stress conditions. Professional associations include ASHA, PAVA, and NCVS. Following graduation, Apfelbach joined the University of Iowa as a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department.