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Powe Award recipient explores the use of digital tools to help address autism in rural areas

Powe Award recipient explores the use of digital tools to help address autism in rural areas

Ying Hao, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders at the University of Mississippi, is exploring ways virtual technology, like telepractice, can bring communication tools to the families of children with autism spectrum disorders living in rural areas.

For children living with an autism spectrum disorder, developing needed communication and social skills is critical but can be a challenge. While these skills are vital for an autistic child’s growth and development, accessing services to aid with learning those skills, such as speech communication tools, can be quite difficult, especially for those living in rural areas. Ying Hao, an assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders at the University of Mississippi, is exploring ways virtual technology, such as telepractice, can bring tools to the families of children living in rural areas and help give these children the opportunity to thrive. Her project looks at ways to deliver an evidence-based parent training program.

In 2021, her research gained additional traction with the receipt of a $5,000 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. Those funds, along with an additional $5,000 in matching funding from her university, will help her further explore the viability of such technology to improve the lives of these children. Her findings could spur further funding from other federal and nonprofit sources.

Hao is among 35 junior faculty members at ORAU member institutions to receive the prestigious award in 2021. Since its inception more than 30 years ago, the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award program has awarded 804 grants totaling about $4 million. Coupled with matching funds from member institutions, ORAU has facilitated grants worth more than $8 million.

ORAU actively works with its member institutions to connect their expertise with government and private-sector organizations and to foster collaboration for innovation in scientific research and education. The Powe Award was developed to spark professional growth for junior faculty at these member institutions. 

Contact us

For more information about the Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards, contact the University Partnerships office at 865.576.6513 or PoweAwards@orau.org.