Faculty Profile: Dr. Christine Dollaghan
By the time she had entered high school, Dr. Christine Dollaghan (Will need new link) was fascinated by human language and was determined to study it further. She went on to study linguistics at Wesleyan University in Middleton, Conn., however, a book on aphasia focused her studies on a field that examines how and why language breaks down for a million people in the U.S.
Dollaghan earned an MA in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Montana and went on to earn a PhD in Communicative Disorders at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Over the course of her studies, Dollaghan became more interested in studying language in children, such as how they acquire language and the various ways the process can go awry.
“I wanted to know how their learning mechanisms differ, how their learning rates differ, how we can identify them at a young age, and how we can ameliorate the difficulties they’re having,” said Dollaghan.
After obtaining her PhD, Dollaghan worked at a rehabilitation hospital in western Canada before joining the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh. She directed the Speech and Hearing Clinic there for several years and then began to focus more on her research. Among other projects she was an investigator on NIH-funded studies of ear infections and child development, memory and word learning in children with specific language impairment, and speech and language skills in children recovering from severe traumatic brain injury.
Dollaghan joined the UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS) in 2006. Since then, she has published The Handbook of Evidence-Based Practice in Communication Disorders. She regularly teaches masters-level courses on child language disorders and the relationship of child language disorders to learning disabilities and dyslexia. She also teaches occasional seminars on various topics including the concept of what words are and how they are acquired — or lexical development — and on research principles and evidence-based practice.
Dollaghan, who is married to Dr. Tom Campbell, (Will need new link) director of the Callier Center for Communication Disorders, continues to focus her research and teaching on child language development and disorders. She has a research lab at the Callier Center where she works with six doctoral students, two post-doctoral students and two master’s program students.
“My philosophy as a PhD advisor is to support my students as they find questions they are passionately interested in — not to assign them projects I’m interested in. But of course I’m hoping those two things will converge,” Dollaghan said.
Dollaghan recently was named associate dean of programs and administration for BBS, where she is overseeing operational aspects of the school. She is an ASHA (American Speech and Hearing Association) Fellow and a 2012 recipient of the Honors of the ASHA.