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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

CSD professor wins Arts and Sciences master’s teaching award

Soren Y. Lowell described as "perfect model for a teacher" of communication sciences and disorders

April 14, 2014, by Rob Enslin

Soren Y. Lowell
Soren Y. Lowell

Soren Y. Lowell, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders, is the recipient of the 2014 Prize for Excellence in Master’s Level Teaching in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

In conjunction with the award, she will address candidates at The College’s master’s convocation ceremony on Saturday, May 10, in Crouse College’s Setnor Auditorium.

“I am extremely proud of Soren Lowell, whom I’ve had the pleasure of watching develop into a successful scholar, an outstanding teacher, and a valuable colleague,” says Linda Milosky, associate professor and chair of CSD. “She plays an important role in preparing master’s level clinicians for the challenges they will face in their careers. She also serves as an excellent role model for the implementation of scientifically based practices in clinical work. Her skill, enthusiasm, and rigor are to be commended.”

Gerald Greenberg, senior associate dean for academic affairs, echoes these sentiments, adding that Lowell, who joined SU’s faculty in 2008, is part of a new breed of “educational scholars” in The College. 

“Professor Lowell has succeeded by dint of hard work, combined with talent—in her research, classroom teaching, mentoring, and clinical consulting. She has earned the respect of her students and her colleagues, all of whom describe her as intelligent, engaging, and passionate about her field,” he says. Greenberg also serves as associate dean of humanities and of curriculum, instruction, and programs; and as associate professor of Russian and linguistics.

An expert in the nature, diagnosis, and treatment of voice disorders, Lowell studies the structure and function of organs and tissues involved in voice production. She also measures the acoustic properties of the voice, as well as the perception of voice-quality by listeners, the latter of which gives her scholarship a decidedly transnational edge.

When not in the lab, Lowell assists students in CSD’s Gebbie Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic; contributes toward The College’s new Interdisciplinary Neurosciences Program; and volunteers for the American Speech Language Hearing Association, where she is a tireless advocate for evidence-based practice, minority student recruitment and retention, and career transition practices.

But it’s Lowell’s master’s-level teaching for which she is best known. In CSD, she is virtually synonymous with the courses “Voice Disorders” (CSD 657) and “Dysphagia” (CSD 618), the latter of which covers the process and disorders of swallowing, often brought on by degenerative diseases and acute neurological damage. Lowell also teaches courses in speech science and in the anatomy and physiology of speech and hearing mechanisms, both of which are cross-listed as graduate and undergraduate courses and attract students from a variety of majors.

CSD Professor Beth Prieve says it’s Lowell’s genuine excitement that keeps students coming back. “She intimately engages students into the material, using unique and varied teaching approaches, assignments, hands-on exploration, and videos,” Prieve says. “Her tools are creative, enticing students to explore and reason for themselves. She’s also an excellent communicator who has high standards for her students and helps them achieve those standards.”

There seems to be no shortage of superlatives used to describe Lowell’s aesthetic. "Professional,” “enthusiastic,” “approachable,” and “humble" are the most popular. 

Elisabeth Bailey ’07, G’13, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in New England, was one of Lowell’s graduate student clinicians. “Dr. Lowell is the perfect model for a teacher of communication sciences,” Bailey says. “She is a highly dedicated professional who understands her areas of expertise completely. Every time she steps in front of a class of budding SLPs, she is demonstrating her desire to impart her knowledge entirely.”

Adds Natalie Chan G’12, an Ontario-based SLP: “She is the picture of professionalism … who brings an infectious passion for the field into the classroom. I feel prepared to meet the challenges of my field because of the tools and confidence Dr. Lowell has instilled in me.”

Lowell takes the praise in stride, preferring to put the emphasis on her students. “My hope for each of them is to cultivate an excitement and a love for voice and swallowing disorders, a strong scientific knowledge basis and ability to bridge that knowledge to clinical practice, and an awareness of the tremendous importance of continued professional learning throughout their careers,” says Lowell, who earned a Ph.D. in speech and hearing sciences from the University of Arizona. “I have high expectations for my students and find that they rise to meet and exceed my expectations with outstanding learning and engagement.”

Prior to SU, Lowell completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health and taught courses at The George Washington University and The University of Arizona. She also worked as an SLP at various hospitals and medical centers in Arizona and along the East Coast.

The Excellence in Master’s Level Teaching award is administered by The College’s Office for Curriculum, Instruction, and Programs.