Prof. Mabel L. Rice, PhD

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Speech-Language-Hearing
Director, Child Language Doctoral Program
Fred and Virginia Merrill Distinguished Professor of Advanced Studies
Primary office:
Dole Human Development Center
Room 3031
University of Kansas
1000 Sunnyside Avenue
Lawrence, KS 66045
Second office:
Haworth Hall

Mabel L. Rice, PhD, is the Fred & Virginia Merrill Distinguished Professor of Advanced Studies at the University of Kansas.

She directs the Merrill Advanced Studies Center, the Child Language Doctoral Program, and the NIDCD-funded Center for Biobehavioral Neurosciences of Communication Disorders (P30 DC005803). She directs the Language Acquisition Studies Laboratory, and is the PI on two longitudinal language acquisition studies funded by NIDCD (R01 DC005226, R01 DC001803). She is a member of the Scientific Leadership Group for the NIH Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study (PHACS, U01 HD052104) and a Co-PI on an NIH Small Business Tech Transfer grant (STTR, R42 DC013749) with Richard Ellenson. She also directs a NIDCD-funded training grant (T32 DC000052).

She has been a Scholar-in-Residence at MIT, Harvard, the University of Potsdam, Germany, and Curtin University in Perth, Australia, and a Japan Fellow in Tokyo.


Ph.D., University of Kansas

M.A., University of Northern Iowa

B.A., University of Northern Iowa


Dr. Rice teaches graduate courses on language acquisition, language impairments in children, morphosyntax, research methods, and issues in the conduct of research. She directs the cross-disciplinary Child Language Doctoral Program, jointly sponsored by the departments of Applied Behavioral Sciences, Linguistics, Psychology, and Speech, Language, Hearing.

She has an extensive record of mentoring doctoral and post-doctoral students. She has directed a T32 NIDCD training grant for more than 20 years and has directed training grants from NINDS and the Department of Education. She received the John C. Wright Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award.

Teaching Interests

  • Language impairments in children


Dr. Rice’s research focuses on language acquisition and language impairments, morphosyntax (grammar markers of language impairment), genetics of language, reading, and speech impairments; language acquisition and impairments in twins, language impairments in children affected by HIV, and language impairments in children with autism.

Her research is multidisciplinary and internationally collaborative. Her lab is funded by NIDCD for an ongoing longitudinal, family-based genetic study of language acquisition of children with and without SLI (R01 DC001803), based in the Midwest, and for an ongoing epidemiologically ascertained longitudinal family-based genetic study of twins (R01 DC005226), with data collection in Western Australia.

She enjoys and appreciates the support and contributions of scientific collaborators from Nebraska (Shelley Smith), New York (Richard Ellenson), Australia (Steve Zubrick and Cate Taylor), Washington University (Brad Schlagger and Steve Petersen), Switzerland (Javier Gayán), Tulane University (Russ Van Dyke), University of Illinois (Ken Rich) and Norway (Synnve Schjolberg), as well as the members of the Language Acquisition Studies Lab at the University of Kansas. She is a Partner Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders at Macquarie University, directed by Stephen Crain.

For her research she has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Psychological Association (APA), Association for Psychological Science (APS), and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She also received ASHA Honors and the Alfred A. Kawana Council of Editors Award from ASHA. She is an Affiliate of the American Health Council. In her role as Director of the Merrill Advanced Studies Center, she organizes scientific conferences and dissemination of papers on research in public universities, and produces papers and edited books on emerging cross-disciplinary topics related to language, cognition and neuroscience.

Research Interests

  • Language impairments in children
  • Genetics of language


Dr. Rice served on the Advisory Council of the NIDCD, on the Communications Disorders Workgroup for American Psychiatric Association DSM-V, co-chaired the PhenX Speech and Hearing Working Group for the National Human Genome Research Institute, is a consultant for the Norwegian Institute for Public Health Longitudinal Study of Child Health Outcomes, and the Autism Speaks Treatment Advisory Board.

She served as co-Chair for KU’s Strategic Planning from 2012 – 2014. She serves on numerous editorial boards of professional organizations and on the Publication Board of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, with a term as Chair beginning in 2015.

Selected Publications

Rice, M. L. (2018). Specific Language Impairment (SLI) versus Speech Sound Disorders (SSD). Open Access Government.

Rice, M. L. (2018). What twins can tell us about Specific Language Impairment. Open Access Government, 234-237.

Taylor, C. C., Rice, M. L., Christensen, D. Blair, E. & Zubrick, S. R. (2018). Prenatal and perinatal risks for late language emergence in a population-level sample of twins at age 2. BMC Pediatrics. DOI:10.1186/s12887-018-1035-9

Rice, M. L., Zubrick, S. R., Taylor, C. L., Hoffman, L. & Gayan, J. (2018). Longitudinal study of language and speech of twins at 4 and 6 years: Twinning effects decrease; zygosity effects disappear; and heritability increases. Journal of Speech, Language, Hearing Research,(61), 79-93. DOI:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0366

Dale, P. S., Rice, M. L., Rimfeld, K. & Hayiou-Thomas, E. (2018). Grammar clinical marker yields substantial heritabiity for language impairments in 16-year-old twins. Journal of Speech, Language, Hearing Research, 61, 66-78. DOI:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0364

Rice, M. L., Russell, J. S., Frederick, T. Purswani, M. Williams, P. L., Siberry, G. K., Redmond, S. M., Hoffman, H. J., & Yao, T. (2017). Risk for speech and language impairments in preschool aged HIV-exposed uninfected children with in utero combination antiretroviral exposure. The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. DOI:10.1097/INF.0000000000001875

Rice, M. L. (2017). Specific language impairment: what do we know? Open Access Government, 34-35.

Rice, M. L. (2017). Overlooked by public health: Specific Language Impairment. Open Access Government, 28-29.

Rice, M. L. (2017). Lost for words: Investigating specific language impairments. Research Features,(105).

Rice, M. L. (2016). Children with Specific Language Impairment and Their Families: A Future View of Nature Plus Nurture and New Technologies for Comprehensive Language Intervention Strategies. Seminars in Speech and Language, 37, 310-318. DOI:10.1055/s-0036-1587701

Redmond, S. M., Yao, T. J., Russell, J. S., Rice, M. L., Hoffman, H. J., Siberry, G. K., Frederick, T. Purswani, M. & Williams, P. L. (2016). Longitudinal evaluation of language impairment in youth with perinatally acquired human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and youth with perinatal HIV exposure. Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, 5 ((suppl1)), S33-S40. DOI:10.1093/jpids/piw045

Rice, M. L. (2016). Specific Language Impairment, Nonverbal IQ, ADHD, ASD, Cochlear Implants, Bilingualism and Dialectal Variants: Defining the boundaries, clarifying clinical conditions and sorting out causes. Journal of Speech, Language, & Hearing Research, 59, 122-132. DOI:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-15-0255

Abel, A. Rice, M. & Bontempo, D. (2015). Effects of verb familiarity on finiteness marking in children. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 58, 360-372. DOI:10.1044/2015_jslhr-l-14-0003

Rice, M. L., & Hoffman, L. (2015). Predicting vocabulary growth in children with and without Specific Language Impairment. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 58, 345-359. DOI:10.1044/2015_jslhr-l-14-0150

Himes, S. Huo, Y. Siberry, G. Williams, P. Rice, M. Sirois, P. Frederick, T. Hazra, R. & Huestis, M. (2015). Meconium Atazanavir concentrations and early language outcomes in HIV-exposed, uninfected infants with prenatal Atazanavir exposure. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS). DOI:10.1097/QAI.0000000000000558

Selected Presentations

Rice, M. L. (11/16/2015). Users’ Guide to Collaborative Research. Annual meeting of ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Macquarie University. Sydney, Australia

Rice, M. L. (06/20/2015). Cochlear Implants, ASD, Bilingualism and Dialectical Variants: Defining the boundaries, clarifying clinical conditions and sorting out causes. Advances in the Sciences of Language Disorders. University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus

Rice, M. L. (05/31/2015). Need for diagnosis of Specific Language Impairment (SLI) in search for causes of language impairments in children. Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Oslo, Norway

Rice, M. L. (01/31/2015). Longitudinal language outcomes in children with SLI: Phenotypes and genetic etiology. Taiwan Society for Cognitive Neuroscience conference, National Taiwan Normal University. Taipei City, Taiwan

Rice, M. L. (11/30/2014). Language impairment alone or in company: The value of comparative research. 24th annual Research Symposium at ASHA Annual Convention. Orlando, FL

Rice, M. L. (10/23/2014). 10 things to know about children with language impairments. Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study (PHACS) meeting. Bethesda, MD

Rice, M. L. (07/31/2014). Growth of language in children with and without SLI: Moving toward epigenetic models of strengths and weaknesses. Genetics and Neurobiology of Language, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Cold Spring Harbor, NY

Rice, M. L. (07/31/2014). Longitudinal outcomes in children with SLI: Lessons for language dimensions and genetic investigations. Workshop on Language Acquisition and its Disorders, Beijing Language and Cultural University. Beijing, China

Selected Awards & Honors

American Psychological Association, Division 1, 7

American Health Council Affiliate
2017 - Present

Scientific Leadership Group, NIH Pediatric HIV AIDS Cohort Study (PHACS)
National Institutes of Health
2005 - Present

American Association for the Advancement of Science
2004 - Present

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
2004 - Present

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
1988 - Present

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Journals Board
2015 - 2019

Representative of NIDCD to NIH Scientific Priorities Workshop, March, 2018. Invited small work group sponsored by All of Us Research Program. Purpose of the workshop is to identify future research priorities

American Psychiatric Association DSM-V Neurodevelopmental Disorders Work Group, Communication Disorders
American Psychiatric Association
2009 - 2012

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Council
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
2008 - 2012

John C. Wright Outstanding Graduate Mentor
University of Kansas

Recipient of the Journal of Speech Language Hearing Research 2008 Editor’s Award of Highest Merit for Language Publication

Alfred A. Kawana Council of Editors Award
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Women of Distinction
University of Kansas

Recipient of the Journal of Speech Language Hearing Research 1996 Editor’s Award of Highest Merit for Language Publication

Kansas University Distinguished Professor

News and events

Dr. Holly Storkel leads a research project aimed at developing effective interventions for kids with DLD called KAW Story. The project just earned a $1.5 million grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders to continue research with 60 Kansas kindergarteners across several school districts.

SPLH/IPCD Graduation Information Page, May 12, 2018

SPLH Professor, Holly Storkel, has been selected as Associate Dean for Academic Innovation & Student Success

SPLH Acting Chair, Nancy Brady, has been promoted to Professor by Chancellor Douglas A. Girod - Chancellor announces faculty awarded promotion and tenure for 2018

Three students received Undergraduate Research Awards for SPLH projects in the Spring 2018 semester!  Congratulations to Grace Carlson (mentored by Navin Viswanathan), Beth Fentress (mentored by Holly Storkel) and Bri Marsh (mentored by Jon Brumberg).

Ana PaulMumy's TEDxKU talk- Placing Value on Human Imperfection

Holly Storkel and Navin Viswanathan receive Friends of the Life Span Institute Investigator Awards in 2017

McKenzie Butcher is one of 13 students to receive Undergraduate Research Awards in fall 2017

Kate DeJarnette, a student in KU’s speech-language pathology program, walks us through why she chose to study augmentative and alternative communication.

Explore a degree in audiology or speech-language pathology at the University of Kansas

"The Impact of Parenting on Fragile X Syndrome" in "Research Features", UK online science magazine, featuring research by Steven F. Warren and Nancy C.Brady

KU to present University Scholarly Achievement Award to Nancy Brady on April 10, 2017

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