Joseph Hoffman, Ph.D. '14, earned his doctorate at Adelphi while working full-time as a speech-language pathologist.

by Cecil Harris

“I loved doing clinical work and was not ready to give that up,” said Joseph Hoffman, Ph.D. ’14, who is a speech-language practitioner.

Adelphi University’s Ruth S. Ammon School of Education offers a part-time doctoral program in speech-language sciences and disorders, which appeals to working professionals. Melody Zambriski and Veronica Jimenez-Harrison are among the graduate students now taking advantage of Adelphi’s accessible Ph.D. program. While earning his Ph.D. at Adelphi in May 2014, Dr. Hoffman refined his research skills and developed teaching skills.

Dr. Hoffman conducted a research study on the effect of insulin treatment on the vocabulary skills of children with diabetes. His study and dissertation were supervised by Reem Khamis-Dakwar, Ph.D., the director of the Neurophysiology in Speech Language Pathology Lab (NSLP Lab) at the Hy Weinberg Center for Communication Disorders, a speech-language pathologist and an associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

“I took a particular interest in neurologically based language disorders—in particular, how language is affected when an individual has a traumatic brain injury or stroke,” Dr. Hoffman said. “I also had a family member with diabetes and noticed how, during a period of low blood sugar, an individual’s language mirrors that of a person with a language disorder from a stroke.”

The study included six children—three with diabetes, three without—and lasted two years. The children visited the NSLP Lab for an electroencephalogram (EEG) in the pilot study and then the final study. In an EEG test, flat metal disks, or electrodes, with thin wires are attached to the scalp to measure electrical activity in the brain.

Dr. Hoffman found the children for the study through one of his dissertation committee members, Jennifer Osipoff, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital in New York.

“The results revealed children with diabetes performed similarly to children without diabetes on neuropsychological testing [related to memory or attention span],” Dr. Hoffman said. “The children with diabetes performed differently on neurophysiological measures [related to eye or muscle movement]. The study suggests further research is needed to determine how best to support children with diabetes with regard to language development.”

Dr. Khamis-Dakwar said: “This is an original study with great potential impact. Only passionate, determined and hardworking students like Joe can learn and incorporate neuroimaging, understanding of metabolic changes in diabetes with insulin treatment and clinical assessment specific to our field in one study.”

Dr. Hoffman, who is from Bethpage, New York, received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Hofstra University. Now a visiting professor in the Department of Linguistics at Stony Brook University, he is thankful for the mentorship of Dr. Khamis-Dakwar.

“Dr. Reem has a sense of what doctoral students need,” he said. “Her NSLP Lab provides a wonderful tool that sets the doctoral students at Adelphi apart from other doctoral students. Without her, I would not be the professional I am today.”

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