• | CMA 4.116 Austin, Tx 78712 | cl3@austin.utexas.edu | 512-232-8542
Lab Logo Banner; dark blue background with orange text; titled CL3 Lab, children's language, literacy, and learning lab

Children's Language, Literacy, and Learning Lab: People


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Dr. Mary Beth Schmitt (Director)

Hi! My name is Mary Beth Schmitt and I am the Director of the CL3 Lab. As a bit of background, I earned my PhD in Speech and Hearing Sciences from The Ohio State University with a focus on applied research. Prior to my doctoral work, I served as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in the public schools and university clinics, providing speech-language therapy to children with developmental language disorders (DLD). Through these clinical experiences, I was struck by the lack of evidence-based processes available to SLPs serving children with DLD. That awareness led me to earn a PhD and continues to be the catalyst for my research. After earning my PhD from The Ohio State University and completing post-doctoral work at OSU, I served on the faculty at TTUHSC for 4 years before joining the faculty at The University of Texas at Austin. So during football and basketball seasons especially, I am never lacking for teams to cheer for! When I am not working on grants, papers, or courses, I am playing in the backyard with my littles, making guacamole, taking long walks, and reading one of about 5 or 6 books on my Kindle that I have going at the time. My favorite aspect of our lab is the people. We have a strong, diverse team that makes the work we do possible and incredible community members who are our lifeblood. I am passionate about creating a culture where each lab member’s unique strengths and talents can be put to use for the good of children with DLD. Grateful for our team!

Lab Coordinator

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Dionne Heller

Hello! I am Dionne Heller and I joined the CL3 Lab in 2021 as the Research Coordinator after being a public educator for 14 years. I have learned so much during my time with the lab, but the thing I have enjoyed the most is working with this amazing team. Everyone is so driven and passionate about the work and they truly want to change the world for the better. To recharge you can usually find me reading a book, enjoying music (specifically, live music when possible), or outside with my family and two dogs.

Post-Doctoral Researcher

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Sonali Poudel

Hello! My name is Sonali Poudel. I am a postdoctoral researcher here at the CL3 lab and new in Austin. In my free time, I like to explore the city and its rich food scene with my partner. I also like to spend time and catch up with my friends and family, scattered all over the globe. My favorite part of working in the lab is the research and its impact on children with language disorders. I have also loved the people as much as the work- everyone is so helpful, compassionate, and driven. This semester, I am excited to dig deeper into the research, know the people and the city more, and have a beautiful, nourishing time.

Graduate Team

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Carrie Hutchins

My name is Carrie Hutchins. I am a CCC-SLP and PhD student at UT Austin. I support the CL3 Lab as a graduate research assistant and lead the social media team. Ten years ago, I would have never thought I’d be back in grad school, but my curiosity, experiences during clinical practice, and the lab’s culture led me to UT Austin! I am excited to dream big, ask hard questions, and collaborate with such an incredible team.

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Natalie Young

Hi everyone! My name is Natalie Young and I am a Master’s Speech Language Pathology student at UT Austin. I am a graduate research assistant mainly working as an interventionist in the CL3 Lab. One way I recharge is music. Sometimes it’s listening to my favorite songs during long drives in my car, other times playing guitar in my room! My favorite aspect of the lab aside from working with such wonderful, and supportive colleagues is getting to work with many different children. I feel so lucky getting to see children of all backgrounds learn and grow!

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Britney Guajardo

Hi! I’m Britney Guajardo and I’m in the Speech Language Pathology Master’s Program at UT Austin! I am a research assistant for the UT CL3 Lab where I serve as a member of the intervention team. One show that I watch on repeat (and urge everyone else to do so too) is New Girl! From working in this lab, I hope to learn how to become a better clinician and a better researcher. I’m excited to learn this by working with our amazing participants and our amazing staff!

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Kimberley Rendon

Hi! My name is Kim. I am a graduate student in the Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences department here at UT Austin. I am a research assistant for the CL3 Lab assessment team. When I recharge, I love to catch up with friends or watch a feel-good movie. A book I would recommend is “Braving the Wilderness” by Brené Brown. My favorite part about working in the lab is watching the kids learn and grow linguistically. It’s so incredible to see the ways they challenge themselves. As a future clinician interested in the pediatric population, I feel very honored to work with them.     

Undergraduate Team

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Hannah Fritsche

Hello! My name is Hannah Fritsche and I am a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences program at UT Austin. In the CL3 Lab, I am a research assistant on the intervention team. In my free time, I like to run, bake, and spend time with friends and family! I am on a mission to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe! My favorite part about the CL3 Lab is being able to interact with participants and watch them develop their language skills. The lab helps me grow personally in experience vital to me as a future pediatric speech pathologist.

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Rachel Rodriguez

Hi, I’m Rachel Rodriguez and I’m an undergraduate Research Assistant on the Assessment Team at CL3. My major is in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. I'm fascinated by the way anatomy and physiology affects every individual's communication differently, and I am also very interested in the social, cultural, and environmental factors which influence children's language development. I'm excited to see the participants' language development over time, and I'm thrilled to be working with such a wonderful team! A fun fact about me is that I love gardens, even though I don't know how to take care of plants (yet).