UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Diane Williams has been named head of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the College of Health and Human Development. Her appointment was effective July 1.
Williams joins Penn State after serving as associate professor of speech-language pathology and as the Anna Rangos Rizakus Endowed Chair in Health Sciences and Ethics at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
One of the main elements that drew Williams to the new role is the department’s five-year strategic plan with a focus on the neurobiological foundations of communication disorders and improving outcomes for individuals with disabilities. The move resonates with the research and clinical work of Williams, who wrote a book on neurofunctional research on neurodevelopmental disorders.
Williams' research focuses on cognitive and linguistic processing in autism spectrum disorders using functional magnetic resonance imaging and behavioral methodology. She completed postdoctoral work at the Autism Research Program at the University of Pittsburgh and the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University.
“I see the future of communication sciences and disorders as grounded in the burgeoning research coming from neuroscience and genetics and think it is essential that our students be prepared to capitalize on this knowledge to improve clinical practice and move research forward,” Williams said.
Williams is a board-certified specialist in child language and language disorders and a certified speech-language pathologist with extensive clinical experience with children and adults with autism and other developmental disorders. She has served in early intervention programs, preschool programs, community agencies, pediatric hospitals and university clinics.
As program director of the Child Language Clinic at Duquesne, Williams coordinated clinical services for children with a variety of language problems and taught the language disorders coursework in the department.
William earned a doctorate degree in speech-language pathology at Bowling Green State University; a master’s degree in religious studies at Villanova University; a master’s degree in speech-language pathology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and a bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology at Auburn University.