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Renowned Researcher of Child Language Disorders to Get Callier Prize
April 8, 2015
Dr. Laurence B. Leonard
Dr. Laurence B. Leonard, a leading scholar and prolific scientist in the study of children with specific language impairment, has been selected to receive the biennial Callier Prize in Communication Disorders. He will be honored at the Callier Cares Luncheon on April 30 and will offer the keynote address at the Callier Prize Conference on May 1.
Presented by the Callier Center for Communication Disorders at UT Dallas, the prize recognizes individuals from around the world for their leadership in fostering scientific advances and significant developments in the diagnosis and treatment of communication disorders. The award, which rotates among the fields of audiology and speech-language pathology, includes a $10,000 prize.
“I am honored and extremely fortunate to receive this prestigious award,” Leonard said. “I am grateful to all who considered me worthy of it, and will strive to live up to the high standards that the Callier Prize represents.”
Leonard is the Rachel E. Stark Distinguished Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, and director of the Child Language Laboratory at Purdue University. His research is aimed at understanding the nature of specific language impairment (SLI), a language disorder that delays the mastery of language skills in children who have no hearing loss or significant delays in other developmental areas.
Leonard's research explores characteristics of adults' linguistic input that might be misinterpreted by children with specific language impairment, leading them to produce many of the commonly reported grammatical errors documented for these children. Together with colleagues in his department, Leonard has employed looking-while-listening (eye gaze) paradigms, electrophysiological techniques, syntactic priming tasks, as well as more conventional comprehension and production tasks to pursue his research questions.
Along with his work in English, Leonard has collaborated with colleagues around the world to examine the nature of specific language impairment in such languages as Cantonese, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.
“Dr. Leonard’s important contributions to research as well as his scholarly mentoring of a generation of doctoral students has left an indelible impact on the profession of communication sciences and disorders. We are so pleased to honor his achievements by awarding him the Callier Prize.”
Leonard has numerous publications in the areas of child language development and disorders, with an emphasis on grammatical, lexical and phonological factors. The second edition of his book, Children with Specific Language Impairment, was recently published by MIT Press.
Leonard was chosen for the prize by a committee of faculty members in the communication sciences and disorders program of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS). Led by BBS professor Dr. William Katz, the committee chose Leonard for his extensive contributions to the theory and practice of speech pathology, the depth, breadth and consistency of his research, the impact of his findings and his mentorship of many fine scientists in the field.
“Dr. Leonard is one of the true giants in the field of child language research,” Katz said. “His research constitutes an impressive body of work concerning children’s language and specific language impairment, addressing almost all levels of grammar, including insights drawn from cross-language comparisons of languages worldwide.”
Dr. Thomas Campbell, Ludwig A. Michael, MD Executive Director of the Callier Center and Sara T. Martineau Professor, said, “Dr. Leonard’s important contributions to research as well as his scholarly mentoring of a generation of doctoral students has left an indelible impact on the profession of communication sciences and disorders. We are so pleased to honor his achievements by awarding him the Callier Prize.”
Leonard will receive the prize at the Callier Cares Luncheon, which brings together advocates, clinicians, researchers and philanthropists to raise money to benefit patients in need through the Callier Care Fund.
He also will be recognized at the Callier Prize Conference, titled “Children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI): Structuring language input to improve language learning,” which will inform and educate clinicians and researchers alike.
Distinguished presenters at the conference will also include Dr. Marc E. Fey of University of Kansas Medical Center, Dr. Pamela A. Hadley of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Dr. Elena Plante of the University of Arizona. All four speakers will participate in a panel discussion titled “Reflections on a Career in Research on Child Language Disorders.”
The free conference will take place at the Callier Center in Dallas. Seating is limited. To attend, please register by visiting Callier Prize Conference.
Media Contact: Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].