Fall 2015
  • Associate Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders

Research Summary

My research is focused on talker factors that affect listeners’ speech understanding as well as their perception of talker characteristics. Examples of talker factors include speaking style (especially clear speech, which talkers adopt when talking to someone with hearing loss), foreign accent, and dialect. Lab activities include acoustic analyses of speech as well as perceptual experiments in which listeners either identify what a talker said or make judgments about the talker’s age or gender.

Education

  • Ph.D., Audiology and Cognitive Science, Indiana University
  • M.A., Audiology, University of Maryland
  • B.A., Hearing and Speech Science, University of Maryland

Biography

Dr. Sarah Hargus Ferguson received her master’s degree in audiology at the University of Maryland in 1993. She completed her Clinical Fellowship Year at the Medical University of South Carolina, where she was involved in a longitudinal study of hearing and aging. She then moved on to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), working as a clinical and research audiologist there for nearly 3 years. In 1997, Dr. Ferguson left UMMC to pursue a Ph.D. in audiology at Indiana University, and ultimately earned a joint Ph.D. in audiology and cognitive science in 2002. After working at the University of Kansas for several years, Dr. Ferguson joined the faculty at the University of Utah. Her research is focused on speech understanding in older adults, and how speech acoustic characteristics affect that understanding. She is especially interested talker factors such as speaking style, dialect, and foreign accent. In addition to speech understanding, recent work in Dr. Ferguson's lab has explored listeners' perception of speech indexical factors such as talker age, gender, and emotional state.