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Published September 13, 2023
Katelyn Kotlarek, an assistant professor in the University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences Division of Communication Disorders, is the recipient of the American Cleft Palate Craniofacial Association (ACPA) Emerging Leader Award.
The Emerging Leader Award is presented to an early-career professional who exhibits exemplary accomplishment and dedication to the issues affecting people with cleft and craniofacial conditions; and who is a member of ACPA for at least three years and not more than 15. Kotlarek, whose research specializes in craniofacial differences and imaging, received the award in May at the 80th ACPA meeting in Raleigh, N.C.
“I am truly grateful and honored to receive this award. ACPA has been my professional home for the past eight years,” Kotlarek says. “It is composed of people who genuinely and selflessly want to improve care for individuals with craniofacial differences through research and clinical practice. This organization holds a special place in my heart, and it makes receiving this honor so meaningful and humbling.”
Kotlarek has demonstrated exemplary accomplishment and dedication to the issues affecting individuals with cleft and craniofacial differences through her research, teaching, service and clinical practice. She has built a successful interdisciplinary research program with collaborators across the western United States, which has resulted in 27 peer-reviewed publications, seven awarded grants, and 75 national and international presentations.
She recently received funding through the Wyoming IDeA Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Program to investigate the impact of common surgical repairs on palatal form and function for children with cleft palates. Kotlarek also served in speech-language pathology and craniofacial care fields in various capacities.
Kotlarek is equally engaged with imparting her passion for this population on to her students, both undergraduate and graduate, and preparing the next generation of speech-language pathologists to treat individuals with craniofacial differences through collaborative, interdisciplinary care in Wyoming and beyond.
Since joining UW in August 2019, Kotlarek has mentored 11 Wyoming undergraduate and graduate students as well as three WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) medical students, resulting in 30 national presentations and five publications with student co-authors. She also provides training for students to assess and treat children and adults with craniofacial differences while instilling a sense of patient advocacy and compassion through her didactic teaching within the Division of Communication Disorders.
Mark Guiberson, director and professor in the Division of Communication Disorders, praises not only the impactful research being conducted by Kotlarek and her students, but also the leadership qualities Kotlarek brings to the division, helping to inspire a team-oriented learning environment.
“This award is a testament to Dr. Kotlarek’s unwavering commitment to enhancing the lives of individuals with craniofacial differences,” Guiberson says. “Her research has significantly enriched our field and served as an inspiration for students embarking on their research journey. Dr. Kotlarek is undeniably an emerging leader and scholar in our field.”
To learn more about cleft palate and other craniofacial differences, visit ACPA’s website at www.acpacares.org.
About UW’s College of Health Sciences
UW’s College of Health Sciences trains health and wellness professionals and researchers in a wide variety of disciplines, including speech-language pathology, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work, kinesiology, community and public health, and disability studies. Additionally, it is the home of the UW Speech and Hearing Clinic and the American Sign Language Studies Program.
The college also oversees residency and fellowship programs in Casper and Cheyenne, as well as operating primary care and speech/hearing clinics in Laramie, Casper and Cheyenne.
With more than 1,600 undergraduate, graduate and professional students, the college is dedicated to training the health and wellness workforce of Wyoming and conducting high-quality research and community engagement, with a particular focus on rural and frontier populations.