School of Health Professions

Dr. Giselle Carnaby is new director of PhD in Health Sciences program

Dr. Giselle Carnaby, director of PhD in Health Sciences program

An academic research career was not what PhD in Health Sciences Program Director Giselle Carnaby, MPH, PhD, envisioned for her future when she began practicing as a speech-language pathologist.

But several years into practice, she found herself frustrated by questions she could not find answers for in the literature.

“Although I’d been exposed to research as an undergraduate and a little in my professional career, I didn’t think I had the tools to really follow a systematic line of inquiry to answer the questions,” she recalled.

A neurologist she met while working in an acute care hospital who would become one of her mentors encouraged Dr. Carnaby to pursue her MPH, a decision that launched a decades-long career steeped in interdisciplinary research and collaboration.

A speech pathologist and public health scientist with more than 30 years of clinical practice with adult communicative, voice and swallowing impaired patients, Dr. Carnaby has worked in acute, rehabilitative and community settings within health care systems in her native Australia as well as in United States. She joined UT Health San Antonio in October to serve as program director of the PhD in Health Sciences program, with an academic appointment as professor in the Department of Health Sciences and a cross appointment in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. She holds both Fellow and Honors awards from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a lifetime Research Scholar for the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Carnaby has worked in health-related higher education since 1995, most recently at the University of Central Florida, where she was appointed in 2015 as an Eminent Research Scholar and tenured professor jointly in communicative sciences and internal medicine (population health). She also has served as director of the PhD program in public health at the University of Florida. Her field experiences include conducting stroke trials within a stroke research unit, developing clinical trials in neurology and head/neck cancer and providing research mentoring at the graduate, post-graduate and faculty levels.

“I have a passion for mentoring and in particular, a passion for PhD studies,” Dr. Carnaby said. “I see PhD students as the best young minds — the best and brightest. They are interested in inquiry, whether it’s leadership, teaching or research. They bring these unbridled spirits to these meetings, classes and interactions.”

Students in the School of Health Professions’ PhD in Health Sciences program bring valuable perspectives from their respective clinical backgrounds, she said.

“They are bringing the clinic with them,” she explained. “What they are doing is truly at the core grassroots level of what patients need, want and will accept. I think if you lose sight of that, you lose touch with who you are doing the research for.”

Dr. Carnaby plans to build an environment of mentorship in her new role.

“I think the best experiences in PhD programs come from having really great mentors and partnerships with numerous people as you go through your journey,” she said.

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