Meet Our Grad Student
After graduating from Appalachian State University in 2005 with a degree in Communication Disorders with a concentration in biology, Kristal Mills decided to attend ECU to further her education. In her third year within the PhD program in Audiology within the Department of Communication Science and Disorders, Mills research interests focuses on the vestibular system, which is the sensory system responsible for balance. Specifically, she is interested in the functional outcomes of injury to the vestibular system as well as the genetics of inner ear disorders. In 2008 this Trenton, North Carolina native was awarded a Student Investigator Award by the American Academy of Audiology to fund her current research project, which is titled NADPH Oxidase and Auditory Function. This study will provide a better understanding of auditory function in two mutations known to cause congenital vestibular deficits. Mills hopes in the long run that a better understanding of similarities and differences in the functional roles for gene products in the inner ear will be achieved. These potential findings will further the understanding of normal and abnormal inner ear development, genetic factors that may affect development, and will expand our knowledge of genetic hearing and balance disorders. Also in 2008, Mills was awarded the Berbecker Fellowship from the College of Allied Health Sciences and was recently selected for a travel award by the Association for Research in Otolaryngology to attend and present a poster of her NADPH Oxidase research. Mills will finish her coursework this spring and will then begin working on her dissertation. Following graduation she hopes to find a post-doctoral position to continue to develop her own research. Ultimately, Mills’ ambition is to be a faculty member at a university, where she can teach and do research in the vestibular system.