Mabel Rice

Mabel Rice
  • Director, Child Language Doctoral Program
  • Director, Merrill Advanced Studies Center
  • Fed and Virginia Merrill Distinguished Professor of Advanced Studies

Contact Info

Dole Human Development Center, Room 3031
1000 Sunnyside Ave
Lawrence, KS 66045-7599


Mabel L. Rice is an international authority on language disorders in children and the genetics of language acquisition. She directs three programs in the Life Span Institute and maintains an active research lab, carrying out collaborative studies at international levels. She is best known for her research on Specific Language Impairment.

Mabel L. Rice is an international authority on language disorders in children and the genetics of language acquisition. In 2001, she was a Japan Society Fellow. In 2000, she was recognized as a Haydn Williams Fellow in Australia. She has been a visiting scientist at the Center for Cognitive Science at MIT, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Institut fur Linguistik at the University of Potsdam in Germany, and the Hopital de la Salpetriere in Paris. She is the former editor of the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. At the University of Kansas, she directs the Child Language Doctoral Program, one of the first interdisciplinary programs in the country to train child-language specialists. She also directs the Merrill Advanced Studies Center and the Biobehavioral Neurosciences in Communications Disorders Center. She maintains an active research lab where students address fundamental questions about young children's language acquisition and language impairments.

With Ken Wexler from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she developed the first test to successfully diagnose Specific Language Impairment (SLI) in children ages 3 to 8. The Rice/Wexler Test of Early Grammatical Impairment was released by the Psychological Corporation in 2001 and is being used by school districts and speech language professionals. Dr. Rice has investigated the disorder SLI and other language impairments with research funding from the National Institutes of Health. Currently, she directs a longitudinal study of a grammatical marker in children with SLI and their family members. This study includes a subcontract for genetics analyses with Shelley Smith at the University of Nebraska Medical Center - Omaha. She collaborates with Rebecca Landa of Johns Hopkins University in a study of children with autism. She also leads a collaborative team with investigators Steve Zubrick and Kate Taylor at Curtin University in Perth Australia, in a large-scale study of the language acquisition of twins compared to single-born children, and their families.

Research Interests

Language acquisition, language impairments in children, genetics of language

Professional Service

Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Beta Delta, Sigma Xi, numerous NIH review panels, Children’s Cabinet of Kansas (appointed by governor)


Honors, American Speech, Language & Hearing Association (recognition of career research accomplishments); Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Fellow, American Psychological Association


Ph.D. in Speech/ Language Pathology, University of Kansas
M.A., University of Northern Iowa
B.A., University of Northern Iowa