UW-Madison OT Program - 2012 OT Matters - Alumni Profile - Assistant Professor Karla Ausderau

OT student doing research with child
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2012 Alumni Profile: Assistant Professor Karla Ausderau

In August, Karla Ausderau, an alumna of UW-Madison (BS 1997), not only returned to her alma mater—she returned to the program where she got her start, joining the Kinesiology Department’s Occupational Therapy Program as an Assistant Professor.


Karla Ausderau headshotKarla is one of a record 18 new faculty members that the School of Education welcomed this year. 

As Dean Julie Underwood said recently, “Our academic departments have attracted a tremendous pool of new talent. Each candidate brings an exceptional record of teaching, research and service, and I am confident that they will be valuable assets to the school, our students and our partners."

Most recently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Karla’s research focuses on the daily occupations among families and children with autism spectrum disorder.

We asked Karla to tell us a bit more about how she returned to UW, her research and herself:

WHAT WAS YOUR PATH TO THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN?

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with an undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy.  My fieldwork placements took me to Albuquerque, New Mexico and then Los Angeles, California.  I stayed in Los Angeles for 13 years, where I practiced as a pediatric occupational therapist and went on to get my Masters and PhD at the University of Southern California.  During my time in Los Angeles, I met my husband, Todd, and we were blessed with our son, Jackson. We then traveled to North Carolina where I spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  When I accepted the faculty position at the UW in the Occupational Therapy Program, I had made a complete circle and came home.

WHAT IS THE FOCUS OF YOUR WORK AND RESEARCH?

My research program focuses on families and child with autism spectrum disorder. I study daily occupations, specifically eating and mealtimes, to elucidate the impact on the child’s health, family wellness, and overall daily participation.  I also study sensory features in children with autism spectrum disorder, including their development, characterization, and impact on daily participation. 


WHAT IMPACT DO YOU HOPE YOUR WORK WILL HAVE?

I hope to have an impact on the daily life of families with children with autism by further understanding the behaviors that influence the child’s daily participation.  Also, with better characterization of feeding and sensory behaviors, we will be able to develop more effective assessment tools, targeted treatment strategies, and improved outcomes for children and families. 

WHAT'S ONE THING PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU?

My son and I love to go fishing together.  We were able to enjoy the beautiful weather recently while fishing on Madison’s Lake Wingra.


DO YOU KNOW ALL THE LYRICS TO VARSITY?

Of course, UW alumni never forget the lyrics to Varsity!

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