Research Personnel

Principal Investigators


Tim OdegardTim Odegard, Ph.D., CALP

Tim Odegard leads the research efforts of the laboratory. He is a professor of psychology and holds the Katherine Davis Murfree Chair of Excellence in Dyslexic Studies at Middle Tennessee State University, leading the efforts of the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia. He completed his B.A. in psychology at Hendrix College, his M.A. and Ph.D. in experimental psychology at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville, and his NICHD sponsored postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Arlington. He is also a trained educator who has worked with students with reading disabilities, and completed a two-year dyslexia specialist training program at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas. He serves as the Associate Editor of Annals of Dyslexia and on the editorial board of Perspectives on Language and Literacy. He is a member of the Understood Parent Advisory Committee and the AIM Scientific Advisory Board. He received the Luke Waites ALTA Award of Service in recognition of significant contributions made to improve services for individuals with dyslexia, and the IMSLEC Innovator Award as an outstanding MSLE professional. As a developmental cognitive psychologist, his research focuses on memory and language. His research in reading is focused in three areas: identification of children who struggle with reading, intervention for students who struggle to read, and teacher training.


Emily Farris, Ph.D.

Emily Farris is the Assistant Director of Educational Services and Research Initiatives at the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia at Middle Tennessee State University. She completed her B.A. in psychology and  M.A. in Clinical/Counseling Psychology from Midwestern State University, her Ph.D. in experimental psychology at the University of Texas Arlington, and her postdoctoral fellowship in psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of California San Francisco under the mentorship of Dr. Fumiko Hoeft. While an assistant professor of psychology she received the Golden Windmill award from the La Mancha Society at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in recognition of completed intellectual contributions and pursuit of new research projects. She also is a faculty associate in psychiatry at Texas Tech Health Science Center of the Permian Basin. She is a developmental cognitive psychologist, who specializes in cognitive neuroscience. Much of her research focuses on enhancing our understanding of reading difficulties with the ultimate goal of improving our ability to identify individuals with reading difficulties and develop treatment programs that are tailored to suit the individual’s needs in order to enhance every person’s ability to learn to read. She pursues these interests using a variety of behavioral, cognitive, and neuroimaging methodologies and statistical analysis techniques.



Jennifer Flipse, Ph.D., CALP

Jennifer Flipse is the Director for at the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia at Middle Tennessee State University where she also serves as adjunct graduate faculty. She holds a Ph.D. in Literacy Studies with a concentration in Literacy Measurement and Analysis from Middle Tennessee State University.  Additionally, Jennifer has been a secondary ELA classroom educator and RTI interventionist, and she is a Certified Academic Language Practitioner. Her research interests include creating data-driven, effective research-based interventions to maximize student achievement, analyzing student data to uncover trends using recent statistical developments, and examining the development of vocabulary knowledge and its contribution to reading comprehension. 

Research Affiliates


Margie Gillis

Stuart Bernstein, Ph.D.

Stuart Bernstein is a professor in the psychology department at Middle Tennessee State University. He received a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at Michigan State University under the direction of Dr. Thomas Carr, with specialization in the cognitive processes that underlie reading and spelling. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in spelling development at Wayne State University under the direction of Dr. Rebecca Treiman. Dr. Bernstein has over 20 years of experience teaching undergraduate and graduate classes, publishing research, and conducting community service projects in literacy. Awards he has received include Outstanding Faculty in Experiental Learning, the Educator of the Year Award from the National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee, Stones River Chapter, and Community Volunteer of the Year award from Read to Succeed. Dr. Bernstein has published research articles on reading development, spelling development, dyslexia, and health literacy, and was coauthor on a book chapter about dyslexia. Dr. Bernstein has served on the board of Read to Succeed, a community adult literacy organization, for the past 15 years.

Margie GillisMargie B. Gillis, Ed.D.

Margie B. Gillis is a Research Affiliate at Fairfield University and Haskins Laboratories, a Certified Dyslexia Therapist, an Academic Language Therapist and the founder and president of Literacy How, Inc. of North Haven, CT.  She became interested in reading while at the University of Connecticut where she studied with Isabelle Liberman. Subsequently, she received her Doctorate of Education from the University of Louisville in Special Education where she began her work training teachers of reading. As president of Literacy How and as a research affiliate at both Fairfield University and Haskins Laboratories, Dr. Gillis creates new opportunities to empower teaching excellence. In 2010, she founded the Anne E. Fowler Foundation to continue the work of her mentor Anne Fowler. The Foundation supports scholarships for teachers to earn their Masters or Sixth Year degree in Reading and Language Development at Fairfield University. In 2012, Dr. Gillis co-founded the Early Language and Literacy Initiative with Rhonda Kiest, the President of Stepping Stones Museum for Children. Dr. Gillis has also worked at the policy level with the CT state legislature and the Connecticut State Department of Education to pass bills that support evidence-based reading instruction as well as policies that support the identification and treatment of dyslexia. She is the co-founder and former president of Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, the former president of the CT Branch of the International Dyslexia Society, and a board member of the Dyslexia Society of CT and the New Alliance Foundation. She is also a professional adviser for the International Foundation for Effective Reading Instruction (IFERI), Read Works and Dr. Gillis and her team of Mentors provide professional development opportunities for teachers on how best to implement evidence-based reading practices in the classroom.

Anna MiddletonAnna Middleton, Ph.D., CALT

Anna Middleton is the Research Scientist in the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, TX. She earned her Ph.D in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Texas at Dallas, with a focus on neurolinguistics, language development, and literacy. She earned her MA in Psychology at San Diego State University in 2010, focusing on cognitive and linguistic development, and she earned her BA in Psychology in 2006 at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is a Certified Academic Language Therapist and has provided intervention therapies to children with dyslexia since 2007. Her research interests include improving student outcomes by optimizing treatment efficacy, characterizing treatment resistance, and better understanding the psychological and neurological mechanisms underlying specific learning disabilities, particularly dyslexia.

Jeremiah Ring

Jeremiah Ring, Ph.D.

Jeremiah Ring is a Research Scientist in the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. He completed a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder with a focus on basic reading processes and the identification of and intervention for dyslexia. He joined the Luke Waites Center in 2000 and contributed to the development of the hospital’s curriculum for treating children with dyslexia. Dr. Ring’s current research interests include the neuroscience of reading, the continuing development of innovative approaches to intervention, and the study of individual differences in response to treatment for reading disabilities.

Lab Coordinator


Theodore Cristan II, B.A.

Theodore Cristan II is a first year student in the M.A. I/O Psychology program at MTSU. He has a Bachelor's degree in psychology from Colorado Mesa University where he assisted with a variety of research projects and worked with the Suicide Prevention Alliance of Mesa County. His research interests are in the Industrial Psychology field. In his role as lab coordinator, Theodore works on many different research projects.


Graduate Student Members


Theodore Cristan II

See above for brief bio

Jessica Dainty, M.F.A.

Jessica Dainty is a first year Ph.D. student in the Literacy Studies program. She has worked as a special education teacher specializing in reading intervention, particularly in secondary students, and now works as a district-wide consulting teacher to K-12 resource teachers in Putnam County. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from UTKnoxville in English and an MFA from Lesley University in Creative Writing. She is an award-winning author with a 2016 debut novel from Pandamoon Publishing (THE SHAPE OF THE ATMOSPHERE). Her research interests are in the areas of morphology, early literacy skills, and methodological differences in teaching foundational skills to secondary students who are emerging readers. Jessica works on the Arkansas State Wide Teacher Training Initiative project.

Tammy Hutchings, M.S., CCC-SLP

Tammy Hutchings is a second year Ph.D. student in the Literacy Studies program. She is also a speech-language pathologist in a private practice specializing in the assessment and treatment of language and literacy disorders. She earned her Bachelor of Health Science degree from the University of Missouri in 2001 and received her Master of Science degree from the University of Central Missouri in 2003. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Her research interests include investigating resiliency factors in dyslexia as well as if students are being accurately identified in the different categories of specific learning disability at the school level. Tammy works on the Resiliency and Persistence project.

Shonna Phelps, M.Ed.

Shonna Donovan Phelps is a second year Ph.D. student in the Literacy Studies program. She is a high school English teacher and RTI Coordinator working to close the reading gap for secondary students. She holds a Bachelor's degree from Belmont University and an M.Ed. from MTSU in Curriculum and Instruction. Her research interest is the use of reading profiles to inform reading and comprehension interventions in the secondary classroom. Shonna works on the High School Reading Profiles project.


Undergraduate Student Members


Kaitlyn Berry

Kaitlyn Berry is a junior majoring in psychology with a pre-graduate concentration and minors in biology and behavioral neuroscience.

David R. Hughes

David R. Hughes is a junior majoring in political science and minors in philosophy and psychology.

Robyn Sessler

Robyn Sessler is a junior majoring in psychology with a pre-graduate concentration and a minor in biology.


MTSU Students Interested in Joining our Research Team

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