Tim Odegard, Ph.D.
Chairholder, Murfree Chair of Excellence in Dyslexic Studies
Professor of Psychology
Tim Odegard 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 including the research laboratory. 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 an Editor-in-Chief of Annals of Dyslexia. Also, he served on the editorial board of Perspectives on Language and Literacy. He also served as a member of the Understood Parent Advisory Committee and currently serves on the AIM Scientific Advisory Board. He received the Luke Waites ALTA Award of Service in recognition of significant contributions to improving 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 reading research focuses on three areas: identification of children who struggle with reading, intervention for students who struggle to read, and teacher training.
Karen Kehoe, Ph.D.
Karen Flynn Kehoe is the Director of Dyslexia Services at the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia at Middle Tennessee State University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies and French from the University of Notre Dame in 1999, master’s degree in education, with a language and literacy concentration, from Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 2003, and a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Virginia in 2022. Dr. Kehoe’s research interests include risk and protective factors impacting the reading development of elementary students with or at risk for reading difficulties and disability, including dyslexia. She is also interested in studying socioemotional and behavioral influences on reading, especially among vulnerable student populations. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., Karen worked in public and private school settings as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, and instructional coach. She also served in leadership roles in the local government and non-profit sectors, where she directed various education and community initiatives, including: GrowSmart, the City of Virginia Beach’s birth to age 8 collaborative; the Virginia Beach Campaign for Grade-Level Reading; and United for Children, a regional, anti-poverty collective impact effort. Karen is passionate about working to ensure all children in Tennessee have access to high-quality, evidence-based reading instruction and intervention.
Melinda Hirschmann, Ed.D., CALT
Assistant Director for Educational Services and School Outreach
As Assistant Director for Educational Services and School Outreach at the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia, Melinda collaborates with schools to support professional learning regarding literacy instruction and intervention for educators and their students in grades K-12. She also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses as an adjunct professor for the College of Education at Middle Tennessee State University. She earned her Master of Education degree in Special Education from Tennessee State University and her Doctor of Education degree from Lipscomb University. She had the pleasure and challenge of working with adolescent students as a middle school special education reading interventionist for 10 years. Melinda is a Certified Academic Language Therapist and has tutored elementary children using intensive structured literacy instruction. She also administers and supervises student assessments for characteristics of dyslexia. Melinda serves on the board of the Tennessee branch of the International Dyslexia Association.
Erin Alexander, Ed.S., NCSP, CALT
Assistant Director for Clinical Services
Erin Alexander is the Assistant Director for Clinical Services at the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia at Middle Tennessee State University. She trains and supervises graduate students who conduct assessments at the center, consults with parents and school personnel regarding how to best identify and support students with reading difficulties, provides workshops for parents, and delivers professional development to school personnel. She earned her B.S. in psychology, M.A. in school psychology, and Ed.S. in curriculum and instruction/school psychology from Middle Tennessee State University. She is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist and a licensed school psychologist through the TN Department of Education. Her previous experience includes serving on the board of the Tennessee branch of the International Dyslexia Association and working in the public schools in Tennessee as a school psychologist. Erin is also a Certified Academic Language Therapist who has provided intervention to students with characteristics of dyslexia. She is an ex-officio member of the Tennessee Dyslexia Advisory Council, which was established in 2016 to advise the Tennessee Department of Education on matters related to dyslexia.
Emily Farris, Ph.D.
Assistant Director for Educational Services and Research Initiatives
Emily Farris is the Assistant Director for Educational Services and Research Initiatives at the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia at Middle Tennessee State University. She co-leads many of the research activities within the laboratory and serves as adjunct graduate faculty. 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. She also serves as a consulting editor for Annals of Dyslexia. 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 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. Over the past 15 years her research efforts and many of her subsequent publications have focused on (a) understanding cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying foundational literacy skills and reading disabilities, (b) reading resilience, and (c) changes in these skills and mechanisms over time or in response to intervention, as well as (d) aspects of classification and identification models of dyslexia, (e) legislative efforts to aid in the identification of dyslexia, and (f) teacher knowledge of literacy.
Executive Assistant, Chair of Excellence in Dyslexic Studies
Kimberly Haag is the Executive Assistant at the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia at Middle Tennessee State University. She has over fifteen years of experience in professional executive assistant positions. As Executive Assistant, she provides support to the Dyslexia Center's team members, ensures the smooth operation with her efficient handling of the parent/educator inquiries, plus assists with the coordination of the budget, conferences, and educator workshops. In her free time, Kimberly likes to hike, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, and spend time with her family.
Graduate Assistants Pursuing a PhD in Literacy Studies
Katy Kloberdanz, M.Ed., LDT, CALT
Katy Kloberdanz is a first year Ph.D. student in the literacy studies program and a Literacy Fellow within the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia. She is a Certified Academic Language Therapist and a Licensed Dyslexia Therapist in the state of Texas, and working towards becoming a Qualified Instructor. She most recently served as an Education Consultant for Dyslexia and Related Disorders at Education Service Center – Region 20 in San Antonio, Texas, where she provided technical assistance and training for 91 districts and charter schools in 19 counties of central and south Texas. Her direct feedback was incorporated into the Texas Dyslexia Handbook, 2021 Update, helping shape the state’s dyslexia guidance document. Having taught in both private and public school settings, Katy has worked with diverse student populations and served in a variety of roles. She has worked as a classroom teacher, instructional specialist, data analyst, and dyslexia specialist, and she served as the dyslexia coordinator of a large urban district. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the University of North Texas and a M.Ed. in educational administration from Lamar University. Her research interests center around early dyslexia screening and identification, particularly for English Learners and twice exceptional students.
Ifeoluwa Popoola, M.Ed.
Ifeoluwaluwa Ayokunmi Popoola is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the literacy studies program. She has a bachelor's degree from the Obafemi Awolowo University, ile- Ife, Nigeria and a M.Ed. from University of Lagos in physics education. Her research interest is identifying students with reading difficulties among races where these traits are undermined and proffering both short- and long-term remedies.
Pamela Shewalter, M.A.
Pamela Shewalter is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the literacy studies program. She has worked as a special education teacher in a K-8 school where she served as a reading interventionist and case manager. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in special education from MTSU in 2011 and a M.A. from Ball State University in autism and applied behavior analysis in 2016. Her research interests are testing validity in struggling readers, best practices for interventions, generalization of intervention methods, and the use of appropriate accommodations.
Graduate Assistants Pursuing Degrees in Psychology
Michaela Cormier, B.S.
Michaela Cormier is a first year student in the M.A. school psychology program. She received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Central Arkansas in psychology with minors in Spanish, addiction studies, and honors interdisciplinary studies. She plans to become a school psychologist for a public school district in the elementary setting.
Denise Ealy, B.S., MSc.
Denise Ealy is a second year student in the M. A. experimental psychology program. She serves as the lab coordinator within the research laboratory at the Center. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia in psychology with an emphasis in neuroscience and a master's in cognitive and clinical neuroscience from Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research interests include creativity, cognitive aging, and the development of cognitive processes.
Lauren Hunsicker, B.S., M.A.
Lauren Hunsicker is a second year student in the school psychology graduate program. Lauren previously served as the lab coordinator and is currently a graduate assistant at the Center. She received her Bachelor's degree from MTSU in psychology with an emphasis in mental health services. She has already received her Master's degree in school psychology and is working toward her Ed.S. in curriculum and instruction/school psychology. Her research interests are related to school psychology, specifically how educational experiences and socioemotional factors impact reading ability and mental health. She aims to become a school psychologist for a public school district in Middle Tennessee.
Student Worker Specializing in Graphic Design
Andrew Moore is a senior graphic design major pursuing a Bachelors in Fine Arts (B.F.A.).