American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 234,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology assistants; and students.
Health Care

Students Preparing for Academic-Research Careers (SPARC) Award

Initiative Category


Focus Areas

  • Cultural Responsiveness
  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Dialect
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Health Equity
  • Language access/inclusion
  • Mentoring
  • Multilingualism
  • Neurodiversity
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Trauma Informed Care


The Students Preparing for Academic-Research Careers (SPARC) Award aims to cultivate student interest in pursuing

  • a research doctorate (PhD) in communication sciences and disorders (CSD) and
  • a career as a faculty-researcher in CSD.

Twelve awards of $1,000 each are granted annually, including up to two awards dedicated to students attending master's and baccalaureate universities. In support of ASHA's strategic objectives, preference will be given to those applications that focus the mentored teaching and/or research (including the scholarship of teaching and learning) component on the following:

Clinical Practice Research. Clinical practice research in CSD is distinct from research aimed primarily at understanding the mechanisms underlying normal or disordered processing. Rather, it refers to research that focuses on the prevention, diagnostics, treatment, implementation, and outcomes measurement of communication, swallowing, and balance disorders. Clinical practice research, due to its applied nature, has the potential to impact clinical practice in the near term.

Diversity/Equity/Inclusion (DEI). DEI topics include bilingualism, multiculturalism, gender identity, sexual orientation, non-mainstream dialects, and identifying and addressing racism, among other topics that promote diversity and cultural responsiveness in the discipline.

Implementation Science. According to the National Implementation Research Network, "implementation science is the scientific study of variables and conditions that impact changes at practice, organization, and systems levels; changes that are required to promote the systematic uptake, sustainability and effective use of evidence-based programs and practices in typical service and social settings," (Blasé & Fixsen, 2010, National Implementation Research Network).

Interprofessional Education and Interprofessional Practice (IPE/IPP). ASHA has adapted the World Health Organization's (WHO) definitions of IPE/IPP as follows:

  • IPE occurs when two or more professions learn about, from, and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve outcomes for individuals and families whom we serve.
  • IPP occurs when multiple service providers from different professional backgrounds provide comprehensive healthcare or educational services by working with individuals and their families, caregivers, and communities to deliver the highest quality of care across settings.

DEI topics in research and teaching that awardees have included in their plans cover a broad range of issues, including the following:

  • encompassing bi-dialectalism and approaching dialectal difference from a strengths-based perspective
  • the intersection of dis/ability and race
  • discriminatory practices of ableism
  • equitable language assessments for bilingual children
  • sharing ways to practice cultural humility in different allied health professions
  • developing evidence-based treatment therapy services to historically marginalized and underrepresented communities
  • developing peer support for students who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC)
  • collaboration with community organizations to improve community health for Latinx families and other minority groups
  • gender identity and gender presentation in perceptions of neurodiverse individuals
  • augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) treatment intervention for bilingual speakers of English and Spanish who have aphasia

For More Information

See the SPARC Award website or contact Judy Blackburn at

This initiative was submitted on May 21, 2024.

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