UI neuroscience graduate student Ryan Kelley wins Kwak-Ferguson Fellowship

Ryan KelleyUniversity of Iowa student Ryan Kelley has won the 2019 Kwak-Ferguson Fellowship, a $10,000 award from the Iowa Neuroscience Institute for an upper level graduate student working in the area of neurodegenerative diseases. His research in the lab of Jeremy Greenlee, MD, Professor of Neurosurgery focuses on the neural mechanisms of speech production.

Kelley is pursuing both MD and PhD training as a student in the Medical Scientist Training Program and the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience.

The award supports Kelley’s travel to the Artificial & Biological Cognition conference at the 7th Cambridge Neuroscience Symposium in England in September. There he will present his work on decoding the cortical signaling involved in imagined speech. Imagined or covert speech is the mental representation of verbal auditory imagery in the absence of overt vocal output.

Kelley says that identifying the mechanisms involved in covert speech is a key step in the development of speech prostheses for patients with neurodegenerative disease, stroke, locked-in syndrome, and other neurological disorders that leave them unable to produce overt speech.

Greenlee called Kelley  “a thorough and deliberate scientist” and praised his strong work ethic. “He has demonstrated a very clear intellectual curiosity and problem-solving skills that will aid his ultimate career.”

The Kwak-Ferguson Fellowship was established by Donald Timm, a Muscatine native and graduate of the UI College of Law who spent more than 30 years working for the U.S. Department of Defense as an expert on international law. He created the fellowship in honor of two individuals—his friend and mentor, Mr. Myung-Duk Kwak, a Korean attorney and statesman, and his aunt, Louise A.M. (Amelia Marie) Brown Ferguson, an educator and missionary—both of whom died due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Previous Winners
Benjamin DeCorte, 2018
Max Liu, 2017

Friday, June 28, 2019