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Personal profile

Research Biography

A Speech Pathologist, and seasoned globetrotter, I have spent the last decade studying and researching swallowing disorders, their neuro-pathological correlates and socio-economic impact in Germany, New Zealand and Australia. After graduating in Germany in 2003, I undertook post-graduate study in the field of swallowing rehabilitation at the Department of Communication Disorders, Christchurch, New Zealand from 2005-2009. Until October 2012, I was an NHMRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the field of human neuro-motor control at the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute, before joining the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Flinders University. My research is driven by the detrimental impact of swallowing difficulties on both a patient's health and their quality of life. It aims to provide basic scientific data, as well as translational approaches toward novel swallowing interventions.

Research Interests

Imagine not being able to swallow! Dysphagia, or disordered swallowing, is a common consequence of brain damage with a reported incidence of up to 70% in stroke survivors alone. In addition to stroke, many neurodevelopmental or neurodegenerative conditions can cause swallowing disorders. Even in the ageing general population without acute neurological damage swallowing disorders are common. Dysphagia can lead to the development of serious health complications such as aspiration pneumonia, malnutrition, dehydration and choking. Individuals of all ages can be affected, from prematurely born infants to the elderly, both of which are vulnerable populations for which these health complications can be fatal.

Dysphagia also significantly impacts on the quality of life of patients and their carers: Imagine not being able to enjoy a meal with family and friends, or constantly having to spit your saliva into a bucket. Overall, Dysphagia results in significant medical, social and health care costs.

Although there is a general understanding of how the complex process of swallowing is orchestrated, many questions about the precise mechanisms of swallowing neuromotor control remain unanswered. This includes questions around the complex sensorimotor processes occurring during swallowing, the precise effects of rehabilitative interventions on swallowing function and neuromotor control mechanisms, and importantly, the changes induced in these mechanisms by nervous system damage.

My research examines some of these questions using assessment tools capable of investigating biomechanical measures of swallowing function and neurophysiological measures of swallowing neuromotor control, including:

  • pharyngeal manometry (measurement of pressure in the throat during swallowing)
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • transcranial direct current stimulation (both are techniques capable of painlessly stimulating neuronal tissue in the human brain through the intact skull)
  • Biofeedback in swallowing rehabilitation

Completed Supervisions

Associate Supervisions:
  • Speech Pathology, Swallowing Disorders (5)


  • Registered

Research Areas

  • Speech pathology

Supervisory Interests

  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • Swallowing disorders
  • Dysphagia
  • Pharyngeal manometry
  • Human motor control
  • Speech pathology
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Patient outcomes
  • Clinical decision making and case based reasoning


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