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Southwest Center for Mind, Brain and Education



Dr. Jodi Tommerdahl

Dr. Jodi Tommerdahl’s research agenda is focused on expanding the scientific understanding of cognition, language development, and the links between them.  Her primary research is concentrated in the field of clinical linguistics in which she explores atypical language development in children in order to develop tools to aid in the early identification and remediation of language difficulties.  Recent work in the area includes the adaptation of the LARSP (Crystal, Fletcher and Garman, 1989), a clinical tool analyzing morphosyntactic skills in children, to French.  Dr. Tommerdahl’s secondary focus is on the development of reasoning skills throughout the lifespan, particularly in relation to deductive and probabilistic arguments.  She uses a combination of neurophysiological (EEG/ERP) and behavioral measures in order to answer questions about how reasoning abilities develop and how they change with the aging process.  Of specific interest is children’s ability to correctly distinguish between deductive and probabilistic arguments and then to applying appropriate processing in order to solve problems.  Dr. Tommerdahl has published over a dozen peer-reviewed articles and has been the PI or co-PI on 6 research grants.

Currently, Dr. Tommerdahl is working on a corpus of child language and examining statistical reliability of several aspects of language in repeated spontaneous language samples.  This corpus is currently becoming available on the CHILDES database.  Researchers and students seeking research experience are encouraged to contact her at

Additional Faculty

Dr. Kenneth Willifordwilliford

Dr. Kenneth Williford, is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Humanities.  His scholarly interests include Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Science, Logic, and the History of Modern Philosophy. He team teaches Epistemology and Neuroscience with Dr. Schwartz for the MBE program. Dr. Williford also serves on the Executive Council for the Research Schools Network.

Dr. Steffen E. Palko palko

Dr. Steffen Palko and his wife, Betsy, are generous supporters of education in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. In 2005 their gift, the largest cash gift from an individual in the College of Education and Health Profession’s history, established the Southwest Center for Mind, Brain and Education. In 2007, they gifted the Steffen Palko Endowed Graduate Fellowship in the COEHP for MBE graduate students.  Dr. Palko teaches at Texas Christian University as an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in the Department of Educational Leadership.  He is also an adjunct lecturer in the Center’s MBE program.