Julie D. Anderson
Assistant Professor, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences
Certificate of Clinical Competence, Speech-Language Pathology
Ph.D., Vanderbilt University
M.A., University of Minnesota - Minneapolis
B.A., University of Minnesota - Minneapolis
Sociology (major) & Psychology (minor)
I chose an academic/research career because: I have always been intensely curious about why and how things work the way they do. A career in academics allows me to put this inquisitiveness to work in an intellectually challenging and stimulating environment. I enjoy working on research problems in the field of stuttering, in particular, because we know so little about this disorder. It is truly "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" (Winston Churchill, 1939), and I hope that my research might one day shed some light on this most intriguing disorder.
What do you do in your career as a teacher, scholar, and/or researcher? Indiana University-Bloomington is an R1 research institution, meaning that there is a very high emphasis on research activity-publishing scholarly manuscripts and securing external grant funding. My responsibilities include research, classroom teaching, and service. My research focuses on examining the interaction between spoken language production and fluency development, as well as the influence of linguistic factors on stuttering. I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in stuttering, neural bases of speech and language, speech anatomy and physiology, and speech and language diagnostics. I also mentor students in research. My service activities include advising master's students and reviewing scholarly manuscripts.
How did you get to the position you have today? I obtained a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis in sociology (major) and psychology (minor). I had a strong interest in pursuing a doctoral degree early on in my undergraduate career. Thus, after I graduated, I researched careers and graduate programs in a variety of disciplines, such as psychology and genetics, while working as a medical secretary. I finally decided to pursue a career in speech-language pathology, because I liked its mix of science and liberal arts, and entered the master's program at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis. I began with a master's degree program rather than directly entering a doctoral program, because I didn't have a background in the field and, thus, was uncertain about my interests and whether I'd even want to pursue a doctoral degree in this discipline.
Upon obtaining the master's degree, I worked as a speech-language pathologist serving adults with neurogenic communication disorders. However, after a few months, I quickly realized that what really interested me about the profession-namely, the why and how behind communication disorders-did not translate as well to the clinical world, where the focus was largely on function. So, I decided to pursue a doctoral degree in fluency disorders. I chose this area of study because I was fascinated, as a master's student, by the myriad of factors and many "unknowns" associated with stuttering. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to obtain my PhD under the tutelage of a highly accomplished fluency researcher, Dr. Edward Conture, at Vanderbilt University.
What were the key factors in your academic/research career decision(s)? I've always been very curious, which has nourished my desire to consume and produce knowledge. I also enjoy reading and writing.
What do you like most about your career? I enjoy my research and colleagues, as well as the flexibility of an academic career. I can honestly say that I really enjoy my career!
What do you like least about your career? The amount of time I spend working, the pressures of having an R1 tenure-track position, and dealing with the occasional difficult academic personality. It can also take a lot of time to get your manuscripts through the peer review process and published in a reputable journal, which can be a humbling, frustrating, and arduous process.
Who are your heroes/heroines? One of the people whom I most admire is Dr. Gerald M. Siegel, an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders at the University of Minnesota. He has always been very inquisitive, creative, and thoughtful in his thinking about stuttering-a true inspiration.
What advice would you give to an undergraduate or master's student who expressed an interest in an academic/research career in communication sciences and disorders? My advice would be to (a) know what you're getting yourself into, (b) obtain research experience in the form of an undergraduate and/or master's thesis, and (c) thoroughly research prospective PhD programs and mentors.
What was the best thing about your PhD program? The best thing about my PhD program was my mentor, Dr. Edward Conture. His vast knowledge and experience in training PhD students helped me get through the PhD program and gave me the skills I needed to get started in the academic world.
If you did your PhD program or your early career years all over again, what would you do differently? I honestly can't think of anything I would do differently!
How do you find balance between your professional activities and your personal life? What do you do to relax? I am, admittedly, not very good at achieving balance in my professional and personal life, as I tend to be rather singularly focused. However, I do enjoy cuddling with my seven cats, volunteering for animal/wildlife groups, running, and reading (non)fiction books.
What will you be doing 5 years from now? 10 years from now? I hope to continue engaging in scholarly pursuits and embracing the life of the mind.