Welcome to Kate!

Hello! I am thrilled to be fully joining the team, having loved my time at UWE as an associate lecturer this past year. Here’s a bit of an intro to me and the work I do…

I’m a forensic linguist, which (broadly) means that I study the use of language in investigative and legal contexts. My current research focuses on first response police officers’ interactions with victims of domestic abuse at the scene of reported incidents. First response ‘call-outs’ are high-pressure, often high-emotion scenarios in which communication can easily break down. Yet the success of these encounters hinges on communication on both evidential and relational bases: officers need to find out what happened and victims need to feel supported. This is an un(der)studied setting because of the complex but crucial privacy measures involved. My research relies on police body-worn video (BWV) and the participation of the people it shows.

Because so little is known about talk in this context, I take a highly inductive approach to uncover the micro-level interactional features that contribute to what goes wrong (and right) during call-outs. Building on my PhD research at Cardiff University, I’m about to start work on some new BWV footage, with the ongoing aim of feeding these insights into police training. Beyond this, my wider research activities centre on spoken interaction in a variety of institutional contexts, with a focus on power, gender and vulnerability. I’m therefore really keen to explore some of the interdisciplinary research opportunities at UWE.

Originally from the north coast of Ireland, I caught the linguistics bug with an MA at Queen’s University in Belfast, before a job opportunity in Fiji whisked me away (as you can imagine!). I then spent ten jam-packed years working throughout the South Pacific Islands, Australia and Asia. The path back to this side of the world involved a distance MSc in forensic linguistics from Aston University, and a couple of babies…! I’ve now lived here in Bristol for the past five years and love this city.

This coming year (22-23) I’ll be teaching Language at Work, Studying Speech Communities, Constructing Languages, (Phonetics and) Forensic Linguistics, Nonverbal Communication and the second term of our shiny new module, Language, Environment and the Law. We have a brilliant community of Englist Lang & Linguistics students, and I look forward to seeing lots of familiar and new faces in September!

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