Evan Riggs
Office of the Provost

Speech-Language-Hearing Distinguished Professor Steven Warren set to give Inaugural Lecture

Tue, 05/03/2022

LAWRENCE — Steven Warren has worked on more than his fair share of studies and clinical trials in four decades as an expert in social and behavioral sciences. The University of Kansas community has the chance to hear the professor deliver his Inaugural Lecture at 5:30 p.m. May 4 in the Hancock Ballroom at the Oread Hotel. A reception will immediately follow the presentation at 6:30 p.m.

Steven Warren, University of Kansas Distinguished Professor of Speech-Language-HearingWarren is a University Distinguished Professor of Speech-Language-Hearing and an investigator in the Schiefelbusch Institute of Life Span Studies at KU. His presentation is titled “Fragile X and the Role of Maternal Responsivity.”

“Fragile X is a genetic condition inherited from mothers that results in various developmental problems such as intellectual disabilities,” Warren said. “It is caused by a single gene found on the X chromosome. This gene is responsible for encoding a single protein that is required for the optimal development of the brain. Our longitudinal study has focused on the impact of mothers on the children starting in early childhood and stretching into adolescence. Our work suggests that maternal responsivity may have a substantial impact on the development of these children.”

Throughout his career, Warren has focused on communication and language development in children with developmental delays and disabilities.

A 22-year faculty member at KU, Warren currently serves as a principal investigator in collaboration with Nancy Brady, the chair of KU’s Department of Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences & Disorders, on an ongoing longitudinal study on the impact of parenting on the development of children with fragile X syndrome, which is the most common inherited cause of autism.

This natural history study has been ongoing with National Institutes of Health (NIH) support since 2003 and is presently supported by a research grant from National Institutes of Health and Human Development. Warren’s work has been supported over his career with 25 grants from the NIH and 24 grants from federal agents and foundations.

Much of Warren’s work has focused on the effects of different types of communication and language intervention as well as children with specific neurodevelopmental disorders and how they respond to different language interventions such as the mand-model, which involves requesting a verbal response from the child. Warren and his colleagues have conducted several randomized clinical trials on the effects of these interventions on children’s language development.

This work began when Warren served as an investigator at the John F. Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development as a faculty member at Vanderbilt University from 1982 to 1999 and then continued once he came to KU in 2000. In 2004, he began working with an interdisciplinary group of scientists on the development of LENA, a breakthrough technology that automatically captures and analyzes huge amounts of child language interaction data. This work is still ongoing.

Warren’s research has been recognized by career research awards from the National Down Syndrome Congress (1999), the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (2008) and the American Psychological Association (2013).

Warren holds a doctorate in child and developmental psychology from KU. He has been in a variety of roles since returning to KU as a faculty member in 2000, including vice chancellor for research and graduate studies from 2007 until 2014, when he stepped down from the role to focus on teaching and research.

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