2021 Tillman Scholar

Tara Flaugher

University of Texas San Antonio

All stories deserve to be told. As a language neuroscientist, I will ensure all have the opportunity to share their stories either through voice or their brain and behavioral data.”

As a sibling of someone on the autism spectrum, Tara learned about neurodiversity’s beauty at a very young age. As she aimed to understand her brother better, her curiosity led her to a career in science. Inspired by her sibling, a family history of military service, and an opportunity to use her passion for science, Tara enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2010. While serving, she continued to learn about diversity on worldwide partnership missions to establish and maintain foreign relations with U.S. allied counties.

During these missions, she navigated various hydrographic survey vessels through high seas and used her scientific skills to make daily weather observations and collect quality salinity, soil, and sonar data. She also led educational programs on best practices for international port surveys for foreign and domestic service military service members. After honorably serving for four years, she decided to separate from the Navy in 2014 to pursue her education at Texas State University, where she received her bachelor of science in biology.

Currently, Tara is a doctoral student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she helps lead a diverse group of transdisciplinary researchers in understanding communication skills after mild traumatic brain injury. Upon completing her neuroscience Ph.D., she will continue her life-long pursuit of helping individuals, like her brother, that struggle with communication to tell their stories through participation in her language research at one of her future transdisciplinary research clinics.