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Arnold School of Public Health

Our People

Current Lab Members

KRYSTAL WERFEL posing with Cocky, the university's mascot


Krystal L. Werfel, PhD, CCC-SLP is an assistant professor and director of the Written Language Lab at USC. Dr. Werfel studies how spoken language influences written language and applies this knowledge to develop valid and effective assessments and intervention. Most of her work focuses on children with hearing loss and children with specific language impairment. Dr. Werfel has a BS in Early Childhood Development from the University of Tennessee, and an MS in Speech-Language Pathology and a PhD in Hearing and Speech Sciences from Vanderbilt University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in audiology at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center. Her work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation (ASHFoundation), the International Reading Association (IRA), and the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR). Krystal's CV

Brittany Grey


Brittany Grey is the lead SLP on the ELLA Study. She is a certified and licensed SLP. Brittany received a BS in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from Loyola University Maryland and an MS in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Pittsburgh. Before joining the ELLA Study team, Brittany was an SLP (lead assessment coordinator) in Cabarrus County schools and a field examiner for Pearson.

photo of michelle with race medal


Michelle Johnson is a clinical fellow on the ELLA Study. She has a Bachelor's in Communication Sciences and Disoders and Psychology from Augustana College and a Master's degree in speech-language pathology from Texas Christian University. Michelle travels around the US for ELLA data collection and is the lead interventionist for the PRINT study. In her free time, Michelle likes to swim, rollerblade, and send snail mail to friends and family.



Gabriella Reynolds is a doctoral student in Communication Sciences and Disorders Department. She worked as a speech-language pathologist for several years after graduating from Gallaudet University with her Master's. She received her Bachelor's from Georgetown University with a major in Linguistics. Gabriella manages the lab volunteers and oversees PHIL in addition to reviewing language transcriptions and analyzing data for ELLA. Her dissertation evaluates the additive benefit of FM system use during phonological awareness instruction for students with dyslexia + minimal hearing loss. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with her husband, who is also an SLP.

photo of marren with her dog


Marren Brooks is a doctoral student in Communication Sciences and Disorders Department. She worked as a speech-language pathologist in Georgia public schools. She received her Bachelor's from UofSC with a major in Public Health and her Master's in Speech-Language Pathology from Purdue. Marren oversees data management for the ELLA Study. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and binge watching The Great British Baking Show.

photo of Ellie

ELLIE COOPER, MS, CCC-SLP, LSLS cert. AVT Doctoral Student

Ellie is a doctoral student in Communication Sciences and Disorders Department. She worked as a speech-language pathologist at Arkansas Children's Hospital. She received her Bachelor's from University of Arkansas with a major in Communication Disorders and her Master's in Speech-Language Pathology from Fontbonne with a specialty in working with children with cochlear implants. She is a certified listening and spoken language specialist. Ellie oversees organization for the ELLA Study. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling with her husband.

Marissa Castaldo

MARISSA CASTALDO Graduate Research Assistant

Marissa Castaldo is a graduate student in the Master of Speech Pathology program. She has a BA in Public Health with minors in Psychology and Business Administration from USC. Marissa has been working with Dr. Werfel to analyze language samples and evaluate language in children with hearing loss and children with normal hearing. She also assists in scoring and organizing data. In her free time she enjoys spending time with friends and family, baking and going to the beach. 

MAGGIE SEAVEY Graduate Research Assistant


LIZ BARLOW Graduate Research Assistant


DIANA BURKE Graduate Research Assistant


JAMIE DAVIS Graduate Research Assistant


photo of liz

LIZ DEUTCHKI Graduate Research Assistant

Liz Deutchki is a master's student in speech-language pathology. Before starting her master's, Liz was the project manager for the ELLA Study. She has a BS in Public Health from the University of South Carolina. Liz managed the day-to-day aspects of the ELLA Study. Now, she works on recruitment and data collection for PHIL.

BRIANNA HARRIS Graduate Research Assistant


Sarah Hudgins

SARAH HUDGINS  Graduate Research Assistant


MORGAN VACHIO Graduate Research Assistant


Breanna Todd

BREANNA TODD, LMSW Language Sampler Extraordinaire 

Breanna Todd is a social worker at Three Rivers Behavioral Health in West Columbia, SC. She graduated from Michigan State University with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and from the University of South Carolina with a master's degree in Social Work. In her free time, she enjoys coding language samples, hiking in the mountains, swimming at the beach, and reading.

KIRSTEN FINLEY Language Sampler Extraordinaire 



Former Lab Members

Alison Eisel Hendricks


Alison Eisel Hendricks was a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab. She has a PhD  in Language Science and Germanic Linguistics from Pennsylvania State University and earned her BA in philosophy from Occidental College in Los Angeles.  Dr. Eisel Hendricks is now an Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo.


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