Assistant Professor, Division of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck
Surgery, Department of Surgery
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Certificate of Clinical Competence, Speech-Language
2001 PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1992 MS, State University of New York, Buffalo
1989 BS, University of Western Ontario, London,
I chose an academic/research career because:
It offers a challenging environment that gives me the opportunity
to make novel discoveries in the basic science realm and be able
to translate these discoveries to the clinical setting.
Additionally, my career allows me to collaborate with both
researchers and clinicians who are at the cutting edge of their
What do you do in your career as a teacher, scholar,
I am a researcher at a large university. I work in a Division of
Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and I am an adjunct in CSD.
Ninety percent of my job involves research activities, and 10% is
teaching. I teach medical students, residents, and graduate
students in CSD. My research is focused on the molecular
characterization of the vocal fold lamina propria and its impact
on the biomechanics of the vocal fold in normal development and
disease. This involves studying normal and abnormal voice
processes with genetic and cellular techniques. I am particularly
interested in the genetic characterization of altered
viscoelasticity of the vocal folds (i.e., scarring), with focus
on tissue engineering as a mechanism for future
How did you get to the position you have today?
I completed an undergraduate degree in biology and then a
master's degree in CSD. I always liked research, but I wanted
some clinical experience. I worked in the acute-care adult
setting working with dysphagia and voice disorders for 4 years
before going back to school to get my PhD.
Once in my PhD, I was guided to my area of specialization
through good mentorship. I had a background in biology, and it
seemed like a good fit. Through my PhD, I worked with the few
people who were studying this area and went to The University of
Utah as an Assistant Professor to work in one of the few
laboratories in the country that studied vocal fold biology.
At the University of Utah, I continued to study and take
classes. One is constantly learning. I have just recently left
Utah and am now at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
What were the key factors in your academic/research
I think it is important to know what you want and know what you
want to learn. It is easy to be distracted by everything around
you and wanting to "learn it all." It's not
possible, so you need to focus. Once I knew what I wanted, I
found the best places to do this and the best scientists with
whom to do this. I also felt that it was important to learn other
specialties (i.e., genetics, molecular biology) and to bring this
into CSD. The way CSD is going to grow is for us to learn other
areas well and apply these to CSD. This will make you different
from others and your research more exciting.
What do you like most about your career?
My colleagues. The variety and the flexibility to study what I
find most interesting. There are never-ending questions that need
to be answered. It is always fun to look at a new data set and
figure out what is going on for the first time.
What do you like least about your career?
Once you get a grant and start to employ people, you always have
to be thinking about the next grant because you want those people
you employ to stay with you.
Who are your heroes/heroines?
I have been lucky to have had amazing mentors throughout my
training. They all have been exceptional people who have
extraordinary character, who have been generous with their time
and support, and who have challenged me in my
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?
Go for it, it is a great career. Surround yourself with good,
ethical, smart, hardworking people who you really like.
What was the best thing about your PhD program?
The variety and number of doctoral students in the program was
good. You learn so much from fellow students. These students also
become your network as you finish and move out across the
If you did your PhD program or your early career years
all over again, what would you do differently?
How do you find balance between your professional
activities and your personal life? What do you do to
Balance is tough. I prioritize what is ultimately the most
important and don't waiver from that. Then I prioritize the
smaller details. I establish deadlines and think that
organization is crucial. I am also flexible and expect
flexibility from others, particularly when it comes to my
family's needs. I also realize that sometimes it just all
can't be done and lower my expectations in regard to
productivity. I also recognize that certain things will have
varying degrees of focus at varying times. Lastly, I think it is
important to have a good support network, particularly when you
have children, so when you need extra help, you have it.
I think it is important to have as normal a home life as
possible. Once home, with two small children, I rarely work. I
relax by being with and enjoying them.
What will you be doing 5 years from now? 10 years from
I hope more of the same. I would like to develop a laboratory
that has opportunities to train undergraduate, graduate, and