Raele Robison, MS, CCC-SLP, is a fifth-year Rehabilitation Science PhD candidate, and her mentor is Dr. Emily Plowman.
What Has Been Your Experience in the Rehabilitation Science Program?
My experience within the Rehabilitation Sciences program has been invaluable and has truly enriched me as a clinician, scientist, and learner. The course offerings available under the core curriculum allowed me to better understand and appreciate that the rehabilitation of persons is complex and relies on interdisciplinary collaborations and conversations. The Rehabilitation Sciences program afforded many opportunities for my peers and me to engage in this interdisciplinary side of research.
The program itself is comprised of students and professors from clinical backgrounds as well as those who do “bench work” and basic science. There were also opportunities to learn about rehabilitation science from a variety of perspectives through participation in the program’s seminar series, coursework, and the yearly Neuroplasticity symposium. During my first year in the program, I was also able to do an independent study in a basic science lab and learn terminology and techniques that extended beyond my clinical background. Collectively, these experiences have provided an important foundation for me to continue fostering a career as a rehabilitation scientist.
What Have You Enjoyed Most About the Program?
I have really enjoyed the diversity of the program in terms of so many disciplines and areas of research across the Rehabilitation sciences spectrum being represented. The program gave me opportunities to learn from physical, occupational, and speech therapists as well as experts in respiratory physiology and neuroscience. Being able to learn from these different perspectives really enabled me to become a more thoughtful and well-rounded scientist by challenging me to think about my research more in-depth and varied ways.
What are You Currently Researching?
My current research is focused on better understanding the impact of the loss of lingual physiologic reserve (excess tongue functional capacity) on swallowing safety (airway invasion) and swallowing efficiency (post-swallow residue) in individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Individuals with ALS are noted to have substantial structural and functional changes to their tongue during disease progression and demonstrate impairments in both swallowing safety and efficiency. Further, these patients have disruptions to their nutritional homeostasis due to their reduced energy consumption (oral intake) coupled with increased energy expenditure. Still, it is poorly understood how the loss or homeostenosis of lingual physiologic reserve potentially contributes to impaired swallowing function and, thus, the dysregulation of nutritional homeostasis in this patient population.
My dissertation was a series of three Experiments related to these themes. In Experiment 1, we determined relationships between reduced lingual pressure generation and swallowing function in individuals with ALS. In Experiment 2, we examined a six-month decline in lingual pressure generation in patients with ALS and examined whether these longitudinal changes impacted six-month declines in speech or swallowing function. Finally, in Experiment 3 we characterized multiple aspects of lingual pressure production (peak pressure, pressure timing, and pressure variability) and lingual reserve in ALS and their associations with swallowing function. We further identified thresholds of maximum lingual pressure depletion necessary for the identification of unsafe and inefficient swallowing. Overall, my dissertation research addressed important knowledge gaps relating to lingual reserve homeostenosis and the maintenance of nutritional homeostasis in this vulnerable patient population.
How Do You Think the Current Conversation on Racial Justice Will Impact Your Practice as a Professional?
The recent events and conversations surrounding race in our country have shed light on the racial disparities present across our collective communities. These disparities are particularly evident within the Black community as well as in academia. As both a black woman and an academic, I feel deeply connected to these conversations that are taking place. Further, I am aware of how my identity as a black woman cannot be separated from my identity as a scholar as these identities have influenced each other and have helped to mold me and my personal and scientific perspectives. As such, I understand the tremendous obstacles persons of color and especially black students face when trying to achieve higher education. I also understand the continued obstacles that these students will face as they navigate higher education programs and their chosen career paths. Given my unique platform as a black woman and an academic; I am hoping that I can use this platform to help underrepresented students achieve success, stability, and safety within academia.
Further, I feel a tremendous responsibility to identify ways in which I can contribute to the diversification of research and science both broadly and within my field of swallowing/speech pathology. As recent discussions have highlighted, these will not be easy feats as many of these issues are deep-rooted and systemic requiring change on multiple levels with the assistance of a multitude of persons. While we may not be able to eradicate the issue entirely, I have been encouraged by the numerous persons within our institution at UF, across our country and abroad who have expressed interest in determining ways to begin to tackle this issue. Seeing these commitments to racial equity and equality makes me extremely hopeful for the future that being black in academia will no longer be a rarity, but rather, commonplace. I am honored to know that the work I am conducting now is helping to pave a path for these underrepresented scholars in the future.
What Plans Do You Have for the Future as Graduation is Nearing?
Upon graduation, I will be starting a position as a postdoctoral fellow in the Swallowing and Salivary Bioscience Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the direction of Dr. Nicole Rogus-Pulia. My research will expand upon my current interests by investigating mechanisms of depleted physiologic reserve and their impact on swallowing function in the frail elderly. When I first begin my postdoctoral position, I will be part of the William S. Middleton Memorial Veteran’s Hospital Advanced Fellowship in Women’s Health program. In early 2021, I will begin the K phase of my F99-K00 D-Span Blueprint award under which I will be co-mentored by Dr. Rogus-Pulia and Dr. Nadine Connor.
What Awards Have You Received, Published or Presented?
2020: Advanced Fellowship in Women’s Health, William S. Middleton Memorial Veteran’s Hospital, Madison, WI
2019: F99/K00 D-SPAN Blueprint Grant – National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (F99NS115339)
2018: Dysphagia Research Society 26th Annual Meeting, 1st Place Research Poster Presentation Award
2018: Diversity Supplement Award: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (1R01 NS100859-01)
2017: University of Florida Annual Graduate Diversity Research Symposium; 1st Place-Biological Sciences Poster Division
2017: University of Florida T32 Neuroplasticity Symposium Graduate Student Travel Award
2015: University of Florida Graduate Student Council Graduate Student Travel Award
2015: University of Florida Dean’s Scholarship
2009-2013: West Chester University Board of Governor’s Scholarship
SELECT PEER-REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS
Waito, A. A., Plowman, E. K., Barbon, C. E., Peladeau-Pigeon, M., Tabor-Gray, L., Magennis, K., Robison, R. & Steele, C. M. (2020). A Cross-Sectional, Quantitative Videofluoroscopic Analysis of Swallowing Physiology and Function in Individuals With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 1-15. doi: 10.1044/2020 _JSLHR-19-00051
Plowman, E. K., Tabor‐Gray, L. , Rosado, K. M., Vasilopoulos, T., Robison, R. , Chapin, J. L., Gaziano, J. , Vu, T. and Gooch, C. (2019), Impact of expiratory strength training in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: Results of a randomized, sham‐controlled trial. Muscle Nerve, 59: 40-46. doi:10.1002/mus.26292
Arslan, S., Azola, A., Sunday, K., Vose, A., Plowman, E., Tabor, L., Singer, M., Robison, R., Humbert, I. (2018). Effects of Submental Surface Electrical Stimulation on Swallowing Kinematics in Healthy Adults: An Error-Based Learning Paradigm. Am J Speech Lang Pathol, 27(4), 1375-1384. doi: 10.1044/2018_AJSLP-17-0224
Robison, R., Tabor-Gray, L. C., Wymer, J. P., & Plowman, E. K. (2018). Combined respiratory training in an individual with C9orf72 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Annals of clinical and translational neurology, 5(9), 1134-1138. doi:10.1002/acn3.623
Tabor, L. C., Rosado, K. M., Robison, R., Hegland, K., Humbert, I. A., & Plowman, E. K. (2016). Respiratory training in an individual with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Ann Clin Transl Neurol, 3(10), 819-823. doi:10.1002/acn3.342
Plowman, E. K., Tabor, L. C., Robison, R., Gaziano, J., Dion, C., Watts, S. A., Vu. T., Gooch, C. (2016). Discriminant ability of the Eating Assessment Tool-10 to detect aspiration in individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Neurogastroenterol Motil, 28(1), 85-90. doi: 10.1111/nmo.12700.
Plowman, E. K., Watts, S. A., Robison, R., Tabor, L., Dion, C., Gaziano, J., Vu, T., Gooch, C. (2016). Voluntary Cough Airflow Differentiates Safe Versus Unsafe Swallowing in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Dysphagia. doi: 10.1007/s00455-015-9687-1.
Tabor, L., Gaziano, J., Watts, S., Robison, R., & Plowman, E. K. (2016). Defining Swallowing-Related Quality of Life Profiles in Individuals with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Dysphagia. doi: 10.1007/s00455-015-9686-2.
Plowman, E. K., Watts, S. A., Tabor, L., Robison, R., Gaziano, J., Domer, A. S., Richter, J., Vu, T., Gooch, C. (2015). Impact of expiratory strength training in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Muscle Nerve. doi: 10.1002/mus.24990.
Robison, R., Chapin, J., DiBiase, L., Anderson, A., Magennis, K., Wymer, J., Plowman, E.K. Reduced Lingual Strength is Associated with Increased Effort and Inefficient Swallowing in ALS. 18th Annual Northeast ALS Consortium Meeting, October 3, 2019, Clearwater, Florida.
Robison, R., Tabor-Gray, L., Chapin, J., Smith, C., Magennis, K., Anderson, A., DiBiase, L., Wymer, J., Plowman, E.K. The Relative Contribution of Reduced Lingual Physiologic Reserve to Dysarthria and Dysphagia in ALS. University of Florida PHHP Research Day. Gainesville, FL. April 04, 2019.
Robison, R., Tabor-Gray, L., Chapin, J., Magennis, K., Smith, C., Anderson, A., DiBiase, L., Wymer, J., Plowman, E. Reduced Lingual Physiologic Reserve is Associated with Dysphagia and Dysarthria in ALS. University of Florida Neuromuscular Plasticity Symposium. Gainesville, FL, March 15, 2019.
Robison, R., Smith-Sherry, M., Tabor-Gray, L., Chapin, J., Magennis, K., Smith, C., Anderson, A., Wymer, J., Plowman, E. Reduced Lingual Generating Capacity and Pharyngeal Strength are Associated with Dysphagia in ALS. Dysphagia Research Society Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, March 08, 2019.
Robison, R., Smith-Sherry, M., Tabor-Gray, L., Chapin, J., Magennis, K., Smith, C., Anderson, A., Wymer, J., Plowman, E. Impact of Lingual and Pharyngeal Strength on Swallowing Safety and Efficiency in ALS. NEALS Consortium Annual Meeting, Clearwater, FL, October 3, 2018.
Robison, R., Tabor, L., Chapin, J., Wymer, J., Plowman, E.K. Lingual Physiologic Reserve in ALS and Impacts Swallowing Safety and Efficiency. Dysphagia Research Society 26th Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD, March 17, 2018.
Robison, R., Tabor, L., Chapin, J., Wymer, J., Plowman, E.K. Relationship Between Lingual Physiologic Reserve and Swallowing in ALS. NEALS Consortium Annual Meeting, Clearwater, FL, October 4, 2017.
Robison, R., Tabor, L., Chapin, J., Wymer, J., Plowman, E.K. Lingual Physiologic Reserve is Reduced in ALS and Impacts Swallowing Safety and Efficiency. University of Florida PHHP Research Day. Gainesville, FL. April 06, 2017.