Dr. Emily Tobey

Vice provost, associate vice president of Diversity and Community Engagement, and professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Nelle C. Johnston Chair in Communication Disorders in Children

Tobey has made some of the most important contributions concerning the longitudinal effects of cochlear implantation during her decades-long focus on speech production and oral language development in young people. Her work, much of which is done at the UT Dallas Callier Center, has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or other agencies since 1975, and she holds three active NIH grants.

Her recent research has expanded to include the latest imaging techniques to study brain function and how it correlates to changes in adults' performance post-cochlear implantation. This leading-edge work helps specialists determine underlying processes in the speech perception and production of adults who had normal hearing, lost hearing through deafness and regained auditory input with a cochlear implant.

Tobey is collaborating with researchers at other international institutions on examinations of early communication behaviors in young children who receive cochlear implants. She continues to investigate the efficacy of different types of language intervention for children using cochlear implants.

Tobey also has assumed the leadership of the National Institutes of Health-funded project to develop a cochlear implant personal digital assistant after the death of her colleague, Dr. Philipos Loizou.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association awarded Tobey its prestigious Honors of the Association in 2011, citing her study of speech production by cochlear implant users, her groundbreaking studies in oral rehabilitation and brain imaging, and her many academic leadership roles.

Tobey has published peer-reviewed manuscripts with more than 155 professionals around the world. She now works on research efforts not only at UT Dallas, but also with John Hopkins School of Medicine, UT Southwestern Medical Center and many other institutions. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in speech-language pathology from New Mexico State University and Louisiana State University Medical Center. She obtained her doctorate in speech science at the City University of New York.

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Dr. Emily Tobey

School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences


The Foundation for Callier Center and Communication Disorders and various donors established the chair in July 1991 to honor the memory of Nelle C. Johnston, who for more than 40 years devoted her life and her many talents to assisting children with hearing problems and to establishing, guiding and aiding Callier Center in the fields of communication disorders. Tobey has held the chair since 1995.


Tobey was part of the team that helped organize the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clinical trials for cochlear implants. She was among the first investigators to conduct studies of deaf individuals receiving the devices, and her activities helped result in FDA approval of the devices and their current use worldwide.


"It is an honor to hold the Nelle C. Johnston chair. She was a strong advocate for providing a sound education for young children experiencing hearing difficulties. I am proud our work continues to promote improvements in the quality of life for many individuals who experience difficulty hearing."