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Anusha Sundarrajan, PhD ('16)
Dr. Sundarrajan received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology in India. She earned her PhD in Speech Language Pathology and a minor in Gerontology at Purdue University in 2016. Her research interests center around understanding the physiology of aging voice using aerodynamic and acoustic measures. She is specifically interested in understanding how the healthy young and old larynx responds to the effects of unhealthy, and the excessive use of the laryngeal mechanism. She has extensive clinical experience working with children with developmental disabilities in schools and private practices both in the U.S. and in India.
What do you remember best about your time in the Gerontology Program?
What I remember best about my time in the Center on Aging and the Life Course are the different opportunities we had to interact and learn from the network of faculty and students from different disciplines who all shared a common interest in Gerontology. Specifically, we were encouraged to share and present our ideas at various platforms such as the “Students in the Spotlight” during the CALC symposium. As a young and a budding researcher, these opportunities helped me shape my skills on presenting, speaking about my research to an audience with individuals outside of the field of Speech Language Pathology.
Who were your mentors and what attributes did they have that helped you?
My mentors during my PhD included Drs. Preeti Sivasankar (my primary research mentor), Anne Smith, and Susan deCrane. Dr. Kenneth Ferraro also played a large role in mentoring and guiding me on the path of completing the Gerontology minor. I am grateful for all their wonderful mentorship and how they have shaped me to what I am today.
How did you get interested in aging?
In Fall, 2013 my major professor recommended the course “Aging and the Life Course” with Dr. Ferraro for my plan of study. My PhD research was focused on understanding the physiological bases of the aging voice, it was a natural interest for me to learn more about aging. The course on “Aging and the Life Course” with Dr. Ferraro was one of the best courses that I took at Purdue and it prompted me to complete the Gerontology minor.
What experiences did you have at Purdue that helped form your current career?
I was fortunate to be part of the SLHS department and CALC at Purdue. At Purdue, I was able to learn from mentors such as Dr. Jessica Huber, who taught me different techniques to test the speech system, specifically the respiratory system. Aside from the laryngeal system, knowledge about the respiratory system helped me formulate my research questions in depth. My primary research mentor, Dr. Preeti Sivasankar, has been a constant source of guidance and support. Purdue has given me an opportunity to learn from experts whose mentorship, guidance, and experience have instilled in me the confidence to advance in my career.
Anything else you would like to add?
Being at Purdue for 5 years, not only did it teach me how to be academically successful, but taught me how best to be a true professional. I would credit 100% to SLHS department and CALC for providing me a holistic training.