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Sunday, December 10, 2023

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Geo Kartheiser, a Ph.D. student at Gallaudet University, interns at SDSU thanks to a scholarship from Jeffrey and Sheila Lipinsky.

A Sign of Support

A scholarship from the Lipinsky Family Foundation supports student internships in SDSU’s Laboratory for Language and Cognitive Neuroscience.
By Natalia Elko

Deaf since birth, Geo Kartheiser never imagined that he could be a scientist.

But science was where his passion lay, and as he progressed through school, he began to imagine himself as not only a scientist, but also a researcher. 

In 2010, Kartheiser met Karen Emmorey, a San Diego State University researcher and faculty member with an international reputation for breakthrough research on what sign languages reveal about the nature of human language, cognition and the brain. He later visited her lab and was fascinated by her work.

Fast forward a few years and Kartheiser, now a Ph.D. student in the new Educational Neuroscience Program at Gallaudet University advised by Laura-Ann Petitto, was offered an opportunity to further his research on the connection between sign language, spatial memory and spatial attention, particularly for those who acquire sign language as a second language. A scholarship from the Lipinsky Foundation supported his research in Emmorey’s Laboratory for Language and Cognitive Neuroscience at SDSU.

“I am interested in sign language as a second language and the acquisition of sign language as a second language and how that process would change neural resource responsibility for spatial memory,” Kartheiser said.

Kartheiser spent July in the lab, advancing his pre-doctoral fellowship project, which is sponsored in part by the National Institutes of Health.

“Geo has come with this really nice project that combines two of our interests — an interest in bilingualism and an interest in sign language and spatial cognition,” said Emmorey, who is also a key faculty member in the Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience team, one of SDSU’s Areas of Excellence.

“He’s bringing these two domains together into one project.”

The internship was made possible by a scholarship provided by Jeffrey and Sheila Lipinsky from the Lipinsky Family Foundation who support research and graduate studies in the School of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. The scholarship is particularly meaningful for Sheila, who taught deaf and hard-of-hearing students for 12 years in the Chula Vista School District and later served as an educational therapist for students with learning differences.

She created the scholarship after visiting Emmorey’s lab, where up to 10 undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students get hands-on experience in clinical research on sign language and the brain.

Scholarships support students

Scholarships are one of several ways to give to The Campaign for SDSU, the university’s first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign launched to create new opportunities for student success and to help SDSU continue to develop as a leading public research university.

To find out more about creating a scholarship at SDSU and other areas of giving, visit The Campaign for SDSU web site.