Travelling around the world (pre-COVID-19) to work on research or projects to support children with hearing loss is usually just another day at work for Dr Kate Crowe.
The Newcastle-raised speech pathologist is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Iceland – a place her mum says is about as far away from her roots as she can get.
But Dr Crowe’s career hasn’t just taken her to the land of fire and ice – a charming coincidence given she is a talented figure skater – she’s also held postdoctoral positions in the US and Denmark.
It was her decision to study a PhD in speech pathology at Charles Sturt University, after completing several qualifications with the University of Newcastle in NSW, that led her to embark on a global career.
“I did not choose Charles Sturt University, it chose me,” Dr Crowe said.
“I was hoping to embark on a PhD at some time in the future when I was awed by Professor Sharynne McLeod (pictured left) giving a presentation at a conference.
“I approached Professor McLeod after her presentation and asked a question and I honestly cannot remember what happened next.
“She whisked me away, bought me hot chocolate, and suddenly I was on track to becoming her newest PhD student … and I have to say that my entire life changed for the better in that moment.
“Professor McLeod said to me on my first day that throughout my PhD journey she was training me to be her colleague and peer, so she would treat me as such, and that is how it has been for the past 13 years.
“Rarely does a day go by when I do not feel gratitude for her support, guidance, and encouragement, and the places that this has taken me.”
It was through her PhD study and work with Professor McLeod that Dr Crowe started to focus on research and projects that would support multilingual children with hearing loss.
Today, she is a world leader in this field and works with speech pathologists and teachers around the world to support their use of culturally responsive practices for the assessment and support of children with hearing loss.
“The most rewarding part of my job is when I see that my research is making a difference to the people who matter the most – the kids and their families,” Dr Crowe said.
“My research focus is multilingual children who are Deaf or hard of hearing, and I take care to make sure that my work is accessible, comprehensible, and useful to the parents of these children and the professionals who work with these children and their families.
“When someone tells me that they have changed how they work with children because of something I have done, or a parent tells me that they can better understand their child’s development because of something I have said, that is as meaningful as it gets for me.
“I want my work to contribute to a change in the world where being deaf is a difference in ability, not a disability, for Deaf and hard of hearing learners.”
In addition to her work to support children who are Deaf or hard of hearing, Dr Crowe has broad experience with research in children and adults with sensory loss and children and families who are multilingual.
She has worked as a speech pathologist, academic, and researcher in a range of early childhood, school-age, and tertiary settings.
She is currently a member of the International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children’s Speech, and associate editor of the journal Speech, Language and Hearing.
The invaluable contribution Dr Crowe has made to her field has garnered her several awards and accolades.
In March this year, Dr Crowe was accepted as a member in the Global Young Academy (GYA). Members are selected for their scientific excellence and their commitment to service, and they serve five-year terms with the academy.
She received a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship in 2016, and was announced as a Postdoctoral Awardee at the University of Iceland in 2018.
In 2020, Charles Sturt – where Dr Crowe currently holds the position of Adjunct Research Fellow – proudly announced she was winner of its inaugural Alumnus of the Year – Professional Achievement (Research) award.
Dr Crowe also currently holds the position of Associate at the Center for Education Research Partnerships at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in New York.
She was previously a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Copenhagen and Rochester Institute of Technology.
To hear Dr Crowe speak about her work, listen to the first episode of the upcoming Charles Sturt Alumni Podcast Series airing on SoundCloud on Thursday 22 April.