The University of Texas at Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Language in Motion


Principal Investigator

Lisa Goffman

Lisa Goffman, PhD, CCC-SLP

Contact: [email protected]u

Lisa is the Nelle C. Johnston Professor in Early Childhood Communication Disorders in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her research program focuses on how children, both typically developing and speech and language impaired, map motor actions to conceptual and linguistic goals. She is especially interested in how different motor, cognitive, and linguistic cues may facilitate language and speech learning in children with language difficulties.

Current Doctoral Students

Sara Benham

Sara Benham, Doctoral Student

Contact: [email protected]

Sara is a PhD student interested in the interface between sound and word learning in early development, using methodologies such as network science, acoustics, and kinematic motion capture systems. Her dissertation focuses on lexical and phonological cues that support the acquisition of novel words in toddlers and preschoolers with typical and atypical language development. She is currently recruiting participants for her dissertation study!

Leah Sack

Leah Sack, Doctoral Student

Contact: [email protected]

Leah earned her MS in communication disorders in May 2018 from The University of Texas at Dallas. She came to UTD from Kenyon College in Ohio, where she studied Psychology and played lacrosse. She is excited to continue her pursuit of learning and begin her doctoral study under the mentorship of Drs Lisa Goffman and Christine Dollaghan researching language and speech learning in young children. Leah is originally from Philadelphia, PA and loves to get back to the East Coast for family visits!

Post Doctoral Fellows and Research Scientists

Laiah factor

Laiah Factor, PhD

Contact: [email protected]

Laiah Factor is a postdoctoral fellow working under the direction of Dr. Goffman. Laiah’s research centers around the embodied link between co-speech manual gesture, cognitive-linguistic development, and learning in school-aged children. Her dissertation research specifically focused on the facilitative effect of gesture and general cognitive mechanisms on foreign language lexical acquisition in children. As a member of the Language in Motion lab, Laiah is looking forward to contributing towards projects that explore the interconnected spatiotemporal nature of gesture, speech, and language across typical and disordered language development. When she is not studying gesture and child language development, Laiah enjoys spoiling her dog and cat, playing board games, as well as instructing kickboxing and weight training classes.

Research Associate

Janna Berlin

Janna Berlin

Contact: [email protected]

Janna is a Research Associate and has worked for Dr. Goffman for many years. She enjoys research sessions with subjects and working with the many students who are affiliated with the lab. She likes to read and hang out with her dog, Murphy and husband Carl. When possible she enjoys traveling to beautiful places for camping, hiking, and fishing.

Dana Eckles

Dana Eckles, MS, CCC-SLP

Contact: [email protected]

Dana Eckles earned her MS in communication disorders from The University of Texas at Dallas in 2007. After working in a large, urban, school district as an SLP supervisor for a team of speech therapists, Dana returns to UT Dallas as a lab manager to support Dr. Lisa Goffman’s research, supervise students, and recruit participants for studies in the Language in Motion Lab. Recently, she accepted a position on the 2019 ASHA Topic Committee for Language and Learning in School-aged Individuals, and is pursuing research interests in Developmental Language Disorder.

Current Masters and Undergraduate Students

Lillian Fearing

Lillian Fearing, SLP Clinical Student

Contact: [email protected]

Lillian is a clinical speech and language pathology master’s student at The University of Texas at Dallas. Her primary role at the Goffman lab is phonetic transcription, but she is excited to get the chance to interact and get experience with children involved in the research process. When she has free time, she enjoys reading science fiction and fantasy novels, playing a bit of piano and ukulele, and takes every chance possible to get outdoors.

Isabella Meyers

Isabella Myers

Contact: [email protected]

Isabella Myers is an undergraduate studying child learning and development, and speech pathology and audiology with a premed focus. She worked in a cellular communication lab at The University of Texas at Austin studying stomatal response in Arabidopsis plants. She spent the summer getting her EMT license and working with children with special needs.

Paulina Simon

Paulina Simon, SLP Clinical Student

Contact: [email protected]

Paulina Simon is a student at The University of Texas at Dallas, receiving her master’s in communication disorders. She recently graduated from The University of Missouri with an undergraduate degree in communication science and disorders, where she worked in a research lab that focused on adults with neurogenic communication disorders. However, she is excited to experience working and interacting with children in a research setting! In her free time, she loves doing anything outdoors, especially playing soccer, and cheering for the Dallas Cowboys.

Elizabeth Tensmeyer

Elizabeth Tensmeyer, SLP Clinical Student

Contact: [email protected]

Elizabeth is currently a clinical master’s student with a goal to get a research doctorate. She is from the Dallas area, went to Brigham Young University in Utah for her undergraduate. She majored in communication disorders and minored in economics. Her research interests are currently in atypical language development and phonology. She is a classically trained singer and leads the music for her church congregation. Elizabeth will find any excuse to talk about principles of economics, linguistics and DC superheroes.

Recent Graduates of the Lab

Allison Gladfelter

Allison Gladfelter, PhD, CCC-SLP

Contact: [email protected]

Allison is an Assistant Professor at the University of Northern Illinois. Allison is primarily interested in the study of language development in children with autism spectrum disorder, specific language impairment and typical language development. Her research explores the factors that influence how children learn words, specifically in the areas of phonological aspects of words, prosodic patterns, and semantic richness in the learning context.

Peter T. Richtsmeier

Peter T. Richtsmeier, PhD, CCC-SLP

Contact: [email protected]

University: Oklahoma State University
Lab: Phon Farm

Peter is an Assistant Professor at Oklahoma State University. He studies how children learn to produce speech accurately.

Meredith Saletta

Meredith Saletta, PhD, CCC-SLP

Contact: [email protected]

Meredith is an Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa. She utilizes production-based methodologies, including transcription, articulatory kinematics, and analyses of postural stability and timing, to investigate the fundamental mechanisms of human communication and learning. In populations such as adults with Parkinson’s disease, there is a clear relationship between language and motor factors; in children with specific language impairment and reading disabilities, this relationship may not be immediately obvious.

Janet Vuolo

Janet Vuolo, PhD, CCC-SLP

Contact: [email protected]

Janet Vuolo is an assistant professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Science at The Ohio State University. Janet’s research focuses on the relationship between language and motor impairments in children with a developmental language disorder, speech sound disorder, and childhood apraxia of speech.


LouAnn Gerken
Psychological Sciences and Linguistics, University of Arizona

Sebastien Helie
Psychological Sciences, Purdue University

Jun Wang, Biomedical Engineering and Communication Sciences and Disorders, UT Dallas

Howard Zelaznik
Health & Kinesiology, Purdue University

Student and Research Associate Collaborators from the Goffman Lab, Purdue University