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Megan Roberts receives University’s annual Walder Award

Autism researcher recognized for work on groundbreaking interventions
Megan Roberts
Autism researcher Megan Roberts is this year's winner of the Walder Award.

Megan Roberts, associate professor in the School of Communication at Northwestern University, has been named the 20th recipient of the Martin E. and Gertrude G. Walder Award for Research Excellence. Roberts is a pioneer within her field, helping to make critical interventions available sooner to the families of children with developmental delays.

“The Walder Award recognizes excellence in research, and I’m pleased to honor the outstanding work of Megan Roberts,” Provost Kathleen Hagerty said. “Her research not only furthers our understanding of early intervention strategies, but also directly improves the lives of families in our communities.”

Roberts leads the Early Intervention Research Group in the School of Communication and is a licensed speech-language pathologist with more than 15 years of experience working with young children with developmental delays.

Her practice and research — both of which focus on parent-mediated interventions for children with hearing loss, children with autism and children with language delays — center families, who are the experts on their child’s development, according to Roberts.

“I feel unbelievable lucky to love what I do,” said Roberts, whose methods are informed by her role as mother of four young children. “I observe barriers to access of empirically supported interventions for children with developmental delays and then I design and test solutions to address these barriers.”

Roberts just completed two clinical trials of parent-mediated interventions for autistic toddlers, is currently running a clinical trial for children with developmental language disorders and is studying a pre-linguistic communication intervention for toddlers with hearing loss. She is the principal investigator for several multimillion-dollar grants from the National Institutes of Health, and her research is funded by the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders and the Institute of Education Sciences.

The award, which recognizes excellence in research at Northwestern University, was established in 2002 by alumnus Dr. Joseph A. Walder and is gifted annually by the provost. The award carries with it a $15,000 stipend.

“It is such an incredible honor for my work to be recognized by the Walder Award, which has highlighted the work of such impactful NU scholars over the last 20 years,” Roberts said.