Shivani Patel, 5th- year doctoral student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program, defended her dissertation, the culmination of her PhD program. Shivani’s dissertation focused on verbal entrainment, or the unconscious tendency to become more similar to one’s communication partner, in individuals with ASD and their parents.  Results from the study revealed strong evidence of deviant verbal entrainment across different domains of speech and language in individuals with ASD with some overlapping differences in parents of individuals with ASD. Interestingly, poorer verbal entrainment was associated with poorer neural encoding of speech sounds across groups. Together, overlapping verbal entrainment differences and associations with neural encoding of speech in individuals with ASD and their parents underscore the influence of two important mechanisms contributing to noted social communication differences in ASD and provide compelling evidence for future investigation of the genetic basis of these differences. Shivani will be beginning a clinical fellowship as a speech-language pathologist at Stanford Children’s Health/Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital this fall. She is thrilled to focus on developing her clinical skills in a hospital setting and looks forward to using these experiences to motivate clinically impactful speech and language research in her future. Congrats Dr. Patel, we are so proud of you!