Finding Their Voice Through Research

April 25, 2024
Photo of Undergrad research

As a Research 1 university, Baylor University provides undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct scientific research. Examples abound across campus. Two can be found in the laboratory of Dr. Brittany Perrine, assistant professor in the Department of CSD. 

Perrine is “interested in testing the voice under various conditions to learn how people keep a healthy voice, with a special interest in people who use their voice to do their job.” Or, as Dr. Perrine calls them, “professional voice users.” 

In one study, Dr. Perrine and her undergraduate students have partnered with assistant professor of marketing Stephanie Mangus to study the voices of salespeople: specifically, Baylor’s Professional Sales majors. This project aims to analyze how these students use their voices and “how their voice and speech contribute to their ability to make the sale.” 

Karina Howard, a junior CSD major from Austin, TX, has worked in the lab for three months. She helps clean collected audio files for better, more streamlined analysis. Joining Dr. Perrine’s lab and exploring this side of CSD has been a valuable experience for her. 

“Research is so important in this field; speech pathology interacts with almost every career and every aspect of life, since effective communication is a vital part of the human experience,” Howard says. She intends to participate in the Research Suite for the rest of her time at Baylor.

Perrine’s research can provide insight into how a salesperson’s voice directly impacts their connection with a customer and their overall performance. 

The findings, Perrine says, “could lead to better coaching from both a job performance and a healthy voice perspective.” Conducting research with the CSD Department gives students an opportunity to get involved in their chosen fields at a deeper level early on in their academic careers. 

Katelyn Hasse, a junior CSD major from Houston, TX, has worked in the lab for three semesters. She describes this work as fueling “my dedication to this field and highlighting the many possibilities to serve others through this line of work.” 

Looking to the future, Hasse hopes to take what she’s learned and “apply it to my future career in aiding clients in their vocal health and reaching optimal voice production.” 

CSD students can volunteer to take part in this research either while they’re in Dr. Perrine’s Speech Science course or after they take that course. They can also take a specific research course for upper-level credit. Most students in the CSD Research Suite spend at least three hours a week on their projects. 

Hasse studies the notes from interviews with the Professional Sales students, “looking for keywords such as speech, voice, pitch, tone and pace.” After consolidating this data, Dr. Perrine and her students analyze it for any speech or voice issues that may influence the hiring rate of the Professional Sales students. 

Another of Dr. Perrine’s studies includes direct involvement with School of Music and Theatre Arts students. This study tracks how performance majors’ voices change during their time as undergraduates. In collaboration with assistant professor of voice Dr. Kimberly Monzón and lecturer of theatre in musical theatre Lauren M. Weber, Dr. Perrine “records the singing voice and takes various measures of how [the student] feels about their voice and how they take care of their voice over the course of their entire undergraduate degree at Baylor.” 

This study seeks to make connections between voice care, such as drinking water and proper warmups, and the vocal health of young singers. Vocal coaches and speech-language pathologists alike can use the findings from this study to help young singers protect their most precious instrument—their voice!

As a first-generation college student, Dr. Perrine wasn’t familiar with collegiate scientific research when she stepped onto her undergraduate campus. But she, like her current students, was introduced to the research field as an undergrad. “I fell into voice research by chance as an undergraduate student, but soon realized I enjoyed how it combined anatomy, physiology and sound into a single science.” She hopes to gift her love of research to her current students.

“This lab offers a hands-on approach in that I can apply my knowledge of speech pathology to real-world scenarios and see the field in action,” says Hasse. The golden opportunity to conduct research as an undergrad is not lost on her. 

“This research has opened my eyes to a new kind of voice analysis through understanding the impact of our voice in certain situations and the importance of taking care of our voice. Between social situations, singing, interviewing, and normal conversations, we use our voice in nearly every aspect of life.”

At Baylor, undergraduate students can conduct research in real time, in the hopes of creating a better tomorrow. To learn more about the research of current Baylor faculty and students, along with Baylor’s research priorities and mission, visit