PhD Candidate, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing
University of Kansas
Certificate of Clinical Competence, Speech-Language
2006 Ph.D., University of Kansas
1998 M.S., Central Missouri State University
1997 B.S. Central Missouri State University
I chose an academic/research career because:
I enjoy the scientific process and wish to contribute to the
scientific base of our field. I also love teaching and
interacting with students.
Tiffany initially completed this profile while a doctoral student
at the University of Kansas. She completed her PhD recently and
we have added an update to reflect her new position.
What do you do in your career as a teacher, scholar,
I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Kansas, a
research intensive setting. On a daily basis I am collecting data
for my dissertation study that examines the link between
vocabulary development and early reading skills in preschool
children. In addition, I am writing articles for publication,
preparing power point presentations for upcoming conferences,
working with my professors and peers on new studies/grant
proposals, and starting to think about my dissertation results
and their implications. Everyday is something new! UPDATE:
I am currently an Assistant Professor at the University of
Arizona, a research intensive setting. On a daily basis I am
writing articles for publication, preparing power point
presentations for upcoming conferences, formulating studies and
grant proposals, developing courses, and having discussions with
peers and students. Everyday is something new!
How did you get to the position you have today?
After completing my master's degree in speech-language
pathology, I was tired of school and ready to begin my clinical
career. I started at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas
City, Missouri primarily treating preschool children with speech
and language impairments through their outpatient clinic. It was
in my first year there that I became interested in the
reading-language connection. I worked with a colleague to start a
phonological awareness/pre-reading stimulation group for our
preschool clients at risk for reading impairments. Around the
same time, I became involved in a research study of language and
reading at a local foreign language immersion program. As an
extension of these experiences I started to seriously consider a
career in academia; I had always loved the scientific process and
liked the idea of teaching. During my third year at
Children's Mercy, I began part-time as a graduate student at
the University of Kansas. When I obtained a graduate
assistantship a year later, I left my clinical position for
full-time student status. I took classes for 3 years before I
applied for a grant to work on my dissertation. That grant will
end in May of 2006 and I will start as an assistant professor at
the University of Arizona next August (2006). UPDATE: I
successfully defended my dissertation and have moved on to the
next step of my career as an assistant professor at the
University of Arizona.
What were the key factors in your academic/research
I have always been curious about the influence of the environment
and genetics on individual development (the classic nature versus
nurture conundrum). It was this curiosity that drew me to the
fields of psychology and speech-language pathology. When I was in
graduate school at Central Missouri State University my
professors often told me that I should pursue a PhD. I was
flattered by their comments but didn't take them seriously.
No one in my family had ever earned a doctoral degree so the
concept was foreign. Once I started working and saw that there
were many unanswered questioned in our field, I thought about my
professors' encouragements and began thinking about a life in
academia (e.g., Could I do the work? Could I afford to go back to
school? How would this affect my plans for a family?). With the
support of my family, I decided to "go for it"; it was
the best decision I ever made.
What do you like most about your career?
I like my ability to contribute to the research base of our field
by answering questions about reading and language. I love the
variety of activities each day.
What do you like least about your career?
It is difficult to find the time to do all that I would like to
do. I wish I could spend more time with colleagues discussing our
research findings and their implications for the field.
Who are your heroes/heroines?
I have many mentors in my life including my mom who is also a
speech-language pathologist. She went back to college when I was
young. I learned through her hard work and dedication that
anything can be accomplished if you put your heart into it. She
and my father also instilled in me a sense of wonder about the
world and a love for learning.
What advice would you give to an undergraduate or
master's student who expressed an interest in an
academic/research career in communication sciences and
I would tell him/her to know where his/her passions lie; these
passions will drive his/her career. Seek out research and
teaching experiences as soon as possible; talk to doctoral
students and attend workshops addressing the PhD shortage. Take
statistical coursework early and hone your writing skills. Set
your sights on the degree and don't let "life" get
in the way of your ability to achieve your goals.
What was the best thing about your Ph.D.
The teacher-peer and peer-peer interactions have been invaluable.
They have been my greatest learning tool and I believe they will
set the stage for collaborate work in the future.
If you did your Ph.D. program or your early career years
all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have made the effort to live in Lawrence (the home of the
University of Kansas) instead of commuting from Kansas City.
Driving an hour each way was difficult and likely hindered my
ability to take advantage of many activities, both socially and
How do you find balance between your professional
activities and your personal life? What do you do to
I enjoy spending time with friends and family, reading a good
book, watching movies, and playing volleyball.
What will you be doing 5 years from now? 10 years from
I plan to be a professor at a research-based university mentoring
graduate students and continuing to answer questions about the
relationship between language and reading.