Shelly Jo Kraft

Shelly Jo Kraft

Associate Professor
Speech Language Pathology & Audiology


313-577-8885 (fax)

203.4 Rackham Building


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Shelly Jo Kraft


Dr. Kraft's current research focuses on the biological and behavioral genetics of stuttering, autism, SLI, SSD and hearing loss. Other research interests include neuro-anatomical and functional features of people who stutter, auditory feedback mechanisms of speech control, autism treatment strategies, new genetic analysis techniques for modeling epigenetic complexity and exploring the relationship between cognition, temperament and stuttering severity.

Dr. Kraft is the director of the Behavior, Speech & Genetics Lab (Rackham 051), where the majority of her research is conducted. Her latest research showcases novel approaches to the identification of gene-to-gene interaction and regulation as new genetic methodologies offer the promise of identifying etiological bases for many developmental disorders including speech and language disorders.

Dr. Kraft's research team in collaboration with the Univeristy of Texas, Baylor Medical, and Vanderbilt University, was recently awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health to identify genes for stuttering. She will be collecting saliva samples from people all around the world who stutter.

If you are a person who stutters, or has ever stuttered, and you are interested in participating in this study, please register!

Study Background: Stuttering is a developmental speech disorder that commonly runs in families. With an onset between the ages of two to five years old, 5-6% of children will stutter and 1% of adults will stutter. In some places of the world 11-14% of the population stutters! The genes contributing this disorder have not been conclusively identified in the population at large. This study will investigate thousands of people who currently stutter or ever stuttered as children, for genetic markers of the disorder. Discoveries will lead to better treatment options, development of prevention strategies and give answers to the people affected.


  • B.A., Audiology & Speech Sciences, Michigan State University
  • M.A., Communicative Sciences & Disorders, Michigan State University
  • Ph.D., Speech Language Pathology & Human Genetics, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Post Doctoral Scholar Human Genetics, University of Chicago

Awards and grants

Center for Mendelian Genomics 

  • Genes for Persistent Developmental Stuttering: Australian Cohort
  • The goal of this study is to investigate the genetics underlying this speech and language disorder. The investigation will focus on the genetics, neurobiology, cognitive and severity phenotypes within families enriched for the disorder located in Perth, Australia.
  • Role: Principal investigator, collaborator, analyst

WSU Genetics Research Grant 

  • Biomarkers for Speech Disorders: An Imaging Genetics Study
  • The goal of this study is to investigate the pathophysiology of stuttering in 40 adults who persistently stutter and 40 matched controls. In collaboration with McMaster University, Canada, The investigation will explore gene expression, neurobiology, and allelic variation in respect to anatomical and functional differences within the experimental cohort.
  • Role: Co-principal investigator

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

  • Genetic Study of Developmental Stuttering
  • This study will examine genome-wide genetic risk in 800 unrelated non-consanguineous individuals who stutter and 3000 ancestry matched controls with replication of top signals in an additional independent 1000 cases and 1000 controls, comprising the largest proposed genetic study of stuttering to date and aimed at the identification of genes and transmission models responsible for the disorder.
  • Role: Principal investigator
  • 2009 Outstanding Teaching Award, List of Teachers Ranked As Excellent By Their Students, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign (Fall 2009, SHS 410)
  • 2009 Outstanding Teaching Award, List of Teachers Ranked As Excellent By Their Students, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign (Fall 2009, SHS 577)
  • 2010 Excellent Teaching Award, List of Teachers Ranked As Excellent By Their Students, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (Spring 2010, SHS 593)
  • 2013 Manuel Garcia Award
  • International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics
  • 2015 Outstanding Professor of the Year, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Wayne State University
  • 2017 Outstanding Professor of the Year, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Wayne State University

Selected publications

  • Belyk, M., Kraft, S. J., & Brown, S. (2015). Stuttering as a trait or state: An ALE meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies. European Journal of Neuroscience, 41(2), 275-284)
  • Kraft, S. J. & DeThorne, L. S. (2014). The brave new world of epigenetics: embracing complexity in the study of speech and language disorders. Current Developmental Disorders, 1, 207-214
  • Belyk, M., Kraft, S. J. & Brown, S. (2014). PlexinA polymorphisms mediate the developmental trajectory of human corpus callosum microstructure. (2014). Journal of Human Genetics, (in press).
  • Kraft, S. J., & Yairi, E. (2012). Genetic basis of stuttering: The state of the art. Folia Phoniatrica, 64(1), 33-46
  • Choo, A., Kraft, S. J., Olivero, W., Ambrose, N. G., Sharma, H., Chang, S., & Loucks, T. (2011). Corpus callosum differences associated with persistent stuttering in adults. Journal of Communication Disorders, 44(4), 470-477
  • Loucks, T., Kraft, S. J., Choo, A., Sharma, H., & Ambrose, N. G. (2011). Functional brain activation differences in stuttering identified with a rapid fMRI sequence. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 36(4), 253-254
  • Kraft, S. J., Ambrose, N., & Chon, H. C. (2014).Temperament and environmental contribution to stuttering severity in children: The role of effortful control. Seminars in Speech and Language, 80-87
  • Loucks, T. M., Chon, H. C., Kraft, S. J., Amrbose, N. (2013). Individual differences in auditory motor integration revealed by speech fluency manipulations. Acousical Society of America, 133(5), 3518-3518
  • Chon, H., Kraft, S. J., Ambrose, N. G., & Loucks, T. M. J. (2013). Individual variability in delayed auditory feedback (DAF) effects on speech fluency and rate in normally fluent adults. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. 1, 3518-3522

Book chapter(s)

  • Kraft, S. J. (2013). Molecular Windows into Motor Speech Disorders. In P. van Leishout, B. Maassen, & H. Terband (Eds.), Speech Motor Control (pp. 1-23), ASHA ScholarOne Publishing

Other qualifications directly relevant to courses taught

  • 2003: Member, American Speech-Language & Hearing Association
  • 2003: Member, International Stuttering Association
  • 2004: Member, International Fluency Association
  • 2010: Member, Michigan Speech-Language & Hearing Association
  • 2010: Research Board, Academic Center for Excellence in Autism, University of Chicago
  • 2011: Panel Expert, Oxford World Disfluency Conference
  • 2012: Associate Editor, Perspective of Fluency and Fluency Disorders
  • 2016: Treasurer, International Fluency Association

Citation index


Courses taught by Shelly Jo Kraft

Fall Term 2024 (future)

Winter Term 2024

Fall Term 2023

Winter Term 2023

Fall Term 2022

Winter Term 2022