Faculty at USD recognized for world-class work in communication disorders, ecology

Faculty at USD recognized for world-class work in communication disorders, ecology
The University of South Dakota honored two of its distinguished faculty recently during USD's annual President's Research Day. Teri Bellis, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication Disorders, and Daneil Soluk, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, received the President's Award for Research Excellence for their unique contributions to research at USD.

Bellis, whose work has been instrumental in redefining auditory processing disorders, particularly in children, was honored in the Established Faculty category, while Soluk, who has effectively integrated teaching into his research activities by utilizing portions of his research funding to support graduate students in his field and lab work, received the award in the Early or Mid-career Faculty category.

Bellis' research combines basic science and clinically applied approaches to study the mechanisms of central auditory processing in normal subjects, and auditory and cognitive disorders in hearing impaired patients. Her 2002 book on this subject, When the Brain Can't Hear, was a best-seller.

"We focus so much on the ears when our kids have hearing problems that central auditory processing disorder goes undetected," Bellis explained. "Kids having difficulty are often misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other problems. In the last decade we've begun to pin down the real problem. For many of these kids, the problem is not in the ears or with attention or cognition itself, it's in the way the brain 'hears' and processes information."

Soluk's research, meanwhile, has focused on such topics as large river systems and endangered species. His research on the endangered Hine's emerald dragonfly has been the subject of television programs in Wisconsin and newspaper articles in Wisconsin and Illinois. Since 2000, he has averaged more than two publications per year in peer-reviewed journals, and has produces research technical reports and several invited publications aimed at bringing science to the general public. Two of his papers incorporating student involvement were featured last year in a cover story for Science News magazine and he was recently appointed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services' Hine's Emerald Dragonfly Recovery Team.

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