Jeff Searl

Jeff Searl

Associate Professor

  • Communicative Sciences & Disorders


Jeff Searl comes to the MSU Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders with a combination of clinical experience and research that can prepare students for the practice of speech and language pathology as well as research in clinical populations.

Searl served for more than a decade as full-time faculty in the Hearing and Speech Department at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC). He also served five years on faculty at Bowling Green State University, and about seven years as a practicing speech-language pathologist at KUMC.

Searl’s faculty roles have focused almost exclusively on graduate student training at the Master’s degree level (training clinicians) and Ph.D. level (training research scientists). As a researcher, his primary areas of interest relate to understanding effort in communication in adults with head and neck cancer or with neurodegenerative diseases.

Searl relocated to mid-Michigan from Kansas City. He has two college-age children as well as two dogs. He enjoys family time, gardening, and cooking most anything—with sushi and Italian cuisine being his favorites.


Searl engages in a mix of teaching, research and service within his role at MSU. His teaching spans the undergraduate and graduate curricula, and draws on his primary areas of expertise: medical aspects of speech-language pathology. His research is focused principally on alterations to tongue and lip function in adults with head and neck cancer or with neurodegenerative diseases.

Searl enjoys interacting with students from undergraduate to masters to doctoral students. He looks forward to collaborating with colleagues within the department, and across the college and university to build knowledge and improve the diagnosis and treatment of people with communication disorders.

Research and Teaching

Searl’s research focuses on two main areas united by a common theme: effort in communication. His first area of interest is to broaden the understanding of the role of fatigue and effort in behaviors, abilities and communication choices of people with head and neck cancer who have undergone surgery. His ultimate goal is to optimize the clinical practice of medical personnel and speech-language pathologists who care for these patients, and to improve patient quality of life.

Searl’s second area of research focuses on understanding how lip and tongue weakness from neurological diseases (such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) manifests during speech production. His research has led to the development of a system that can index strength of articulation by the tongue and lips as speech is produced. The system allows researchers to inform on the relationships between tongue and lip strength and speech production in neurological disease, examine the relationship between altered speech movements and effort and fatigue, and guide specific instructions that therapists might give such as, ‘exaggerate your articulation,’ ‘be louder,’ and ‘slow down.’

Contact Information

404 Wilson Rd, Room
Communication Arts and Sciences Building
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824