Research Participants Services Core Team


​​ Sophie Ambrose  

Krystal Werfel

Director of the Research Participant Services Core

Dr. Krystal L. Werfel, CCC-SLP is the Director of the RPSC and a Lab Director in the Center for Childhood Deafness, Language, and Learning at Boys Town National Research Hospital, where she also directs the Written Language Lab. Dr. Werfel has a bachelor’s degree in Child Development from the University of Tennessee, and completed her master’s in Speech-Language Pathology and her PhD in Hearing and Speech Sciences at Vanderbilt University, where she researched the language basis of literacy in children with language disorders and children with hearing loss. Her current research is focused on identifying early predictors of literacy for children with hearing loss and designing and optimizing early intervention that may prevent later literacy difficulties. Dr. Werfel’s research has contributed to our understanding of preschool language and emergent literacy difficulties for children with hearing loss, as well as intervention modifications that are effective for this group.

​​ Sophie Ambrose  

Sophie Ambrose

Coordinator of the Clinical Measurement program

Dr. Ambrose is a speech-language pathologist whose previous roles include being the principal investigator and a co-investigator on NIH-funded projects. In her role as the coordinator of the Clinical Measurement Program, she works with Boys Town National Research Hospital scientists to select appropriate clinical measures for their experiments and ensure the measures are conducted with high levels of fidelity.

Sarah Al-Salim 

Sarah Al-Salim

Research Audiologist

Sarah Al-Salim is a Research Audiologist in the Translational Auditory Physiology and Perception Lab and in the Clinical Measurement Program at Boys Town National Research Hospital (BTNRH). She completed her Au.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, during which time she worked in the Human Sensory Physiology Lab at BTNRH with Drs. Michael Gorga and Steve Neely. She completed her clinical externship in audiology in Chicago, Illinois and spent 4 years working with adults and children with hearing loss in a multidisciplinary clinic prior to returning to Omaha and BTNRH. Currently, her primary research interest lies in the development of communication in children with hearing loss. Of particular interest are clinical assessment tools and intervention strategies used to promote language development leading to improved academic and social outcomes in this population.

Judy Kopun  

Judy Kopun

Coordinator of Recruitment and Quality Assurance

Judy Kopun is the Coordinator of Recruitment and Quality Assurance in the Human Subjects Core at Boys Town National Research Hospital. In that role, she assists BTNRH researchers to develop and manage recruitment procedures and ensures that BTNRH staff follow the highest standards in their treatment of research participants. She is also a Research Audiologist in the Auditory Signal Processing Lab and the Communication Engineering Lab under the direction of Daniel Rasetshwane, Ph.D. and Stephen Neely, Ph.D. Judy has extensive experience as a Clinical Audiologist and as a Research Audiologist on NIH-funded grants that have focused on communication and amplification issues for children and adults with hearing loss.

Babara Peterson  

Barb Peterson

Manager, COBRE Clinical Measurement Program

Barb Peterson, MHD, is the Laboratory Manager for the Clinical Measurement Program Lab (CMP) at Boys Town National Research Hospital. She obtained her Master of Human Development degree from the University of Kansas. She is in charge of scheduling for the CMP and other studies as well as day to day operations of the labs. Barb and her husband Jeff have two deaf daughters, and she has a vast knowledge of raising and educating deaf children. Sharing her experiences and parent perspective with study families has been a valuable asset to the projects.

Kayla Samuelson  

Kayla Samuelson

Speech-Language Pathologist

Kayla Samuelson is a speech-language pathologist for the Clinical Measurement Program. She completed her M.A. in speech-language pathology at Indiana University. Her role on the Clinical Measurement Program includes administering speech, language, and cognitive measures following standard protocol to ensure the best data possible. Kayla also works as part of the clinical staff at Boys Town National Research Hospital (BTNRH), evaluating and treating children and adults with a variety of communication needs. She is Hanen Certified - It Takes Two to Talk®: Making Hanen Happen, a program designed to coach parents to improve communication in young children.

Trinity Williams  

Trinity Williams​

Clinical Research Specialist/Participant Coordinator

Trinity Williams is the Clinical Research Specialist/Participant Coordinator in the Human Subjects Core at Boys Town National Research Hospital. In this role, Trinity works to build relationships between community organizations and Boys Town researchers. Trinity organizes screening events that provide individuals with information on their speech, language and hearing status and information about opportunities to participate in research studies. Trinity has a passion for and over 20 years' experience in community outreach and engagement, teaching and training. She has experience working with teens and young adults in the juvenile and adult justice systems, serving as a mentor and class facilitator in diversion programs. Trinity also currently works at a local college as an Adjunct Faculty Instructor in the Adult Education department providing GED program course instruction.