School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

Staff Profiles

Dr Julie Morris

Head of School

Background

Background

I am a Reader and Head of the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences (ECLS) at Newcastle University. I work with a vibrant and passionate group of colleagues, with a dual focus on excellence in teaching and research, with my own work and interests contributing to improved outcomes for people with communication difficulties. Within the University, I am an elected member of Senate (from 2018). 

My particular area of interest is acquired communication difficulties and, in particular, aphasia. I am part of the Tavistock Aphasia Centre (http://research.ncl.ac.uk/aphasia/), a centre of excellence for aphasia teaching and provision. This interest in aphasia is reflected across my research and in my teaching.

My research focuses on comprehension of language, particularly  in reading (with a recently completed project funded by the Stroke Association) and word retrieval, with a funded project completed looking at intervention (NIHR funded project: SemaFoRe: Semantic Feature and Repetition Therapy in aphasia: a pilot RCT). These research themes link to recent PhD supervision, with students via the IDEALAB programme conducting studies in these areas.

I welcome interest from other potential PhD students who have an interest in profiling and treatment of aphasia, particularly word retrieval and comprehension. With colleagues who have interests in this area (see particularly the profile of Janet Webster and Christos Salis) I can support interested students to apply for doctoral funding (for example from the Stroke Association or ESRC).

I am a qualified Speech and Language Therapist, graduating from City University in 1990 and completing my DPhil in Psychology at York University in 1997. I have held a variety of clinical, research and lecturing posts, specialising in adult acquired aphasia. My doctorial work focused on word deafness and the evaluation of its treatment, working with Andy Ellis and Sue Franklin. Previously I was involved in the PATSy project, an Internet based teaching and research resource (www.patsy.ac.uk). Using this resource I was part of a large multi-centre ESRC TRLP project examining the role of vicarious learning in clinical education.


Research

Research Interests

My research interests relate to aphasia and other adult acquired communication difficulties, particularly the processes involved in understanding language, across both spoken and written modalities. How is this affected in aphasia, and what does this mean for models of language processing? What are the most effective ways of working with people with aphasia who have problems of comprehension? This spans auditory, written word, and semantic processing.

My research in aphasia draws on a range of theoretical models, including models of single word processing, sentence processing and text/discourse processing but also includes application of social models. We need to understand the underlying linguistic impairment but, in designing and evaluating treatments, need to consider the impact for the individual in their everyday life. Relating our understanding of linguistic impairment to the person’s real life is a current challenge in the field, and one that my research strives to contribute to. In evaluating the efficacy of therapy, there is a challenge of measurement. How do we best measure impact for the individual?

In taking my research forward, people with aphasia are at the centre . The research needs to have an impact for the individual, but the wider aphasia community needs to be involved further. This is achieved in several ways, including via consultation and evaluation of services (Aphasia Centre), via involvement with people with aphasia in NETA (North East Trust for Aphasia; http://www.neta.org.uk/), a local charity of which I am a trustee, and via the Aphasia Research User Group (ARUG; https://www.ncl.ac.uk/ecls/research/speechlanguage/arug/).

My aim is that my research will contribute to the knowledge base for Speech and Language Therapists working with people with aphasia, as well as to academics, in terms of informing on language processing. My research aims to directly impact on the quality of service and treatment of people with aphasia and other adult acquired communication difficulties.

 

Teaching

Speech and Language Sciences has a deservedly excellent reputation for its teaching and learning. In my role as Head of Section, I lead the team, working with a fantastic group of colleagues to deliver this excellence and to continue to innovate in our teaching.

I am module leader for our Advanced Aphasiology (stage 4 undergraduate)  module and lead on a case based learning module, which focuses on speech and language pathology. In addition to leading and coordinating this important module, I lecture on one part of it, linked closely to be area of expertise, with a focus on spoken word production. I am also involved in learning and teaching of clinical education, supervising students within the Aphasia Centre each year.

I work with our undergraduate and masters students to support their acheivements within their dissertation work.

Until recently (Jan 2019) I was Chair of Board of Studies and continue to chair our Programme Strategy group (curriculum review). I attend both our BSc and MSc Student Staff Committees, allowing close dialogue with the student groups. I Chair SPEC, which is a regional consultation group with SLT managers, reviewing and monitoring the programmes and a key engagement activity, underpinning the section's strengths.

One of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of my role is the close working with our students. Our students are passionate about Speech and Language Therapy, and active in raising the profile of the profession, via the Giving Voice campaign.

Publications