Professor Gail Gillon (Ngāi Tahu iwi) is the Director of the University of Canterbury Child Well-being Research Institute and is also a Co-Director of the Better Start National Science Challenge ($34M), A ten year programme of research focused on ensuring all young children have a successful start to life. Gail’s area of research focuses on understanding the relationship between spoken and written language development and, in particular, the importance of children’s phonological awareness to early reading and spelling success.
Her background is in speech and language therapy and education. She has worked as a researcher at the University of Canterbury for over 20 years and has held several leadership positions including the Dean of Science, Dean of Education, and Pro-Vice Chancellor, of the College of Education Health and Human Development a position she held for eleven years. She has published extensively in the area of the effectiveness of phonological awareness interventions in facilitating early literacy success in children who enter school with known challenges for learning including those with speech and language difficulties.
Gail was made a Fellow of the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) in 2007 for recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field including winning the ASHA’s Editor Award for research article of highest merit on three occasions. She was made a life member of the New Zealand Speech Language Therapy Association in 2018 . Gail has been an advisor to the New Zealand Government through several committees and advisory groups including recently being a member of the Prime Minister’s reference group for our country’s first Child and Youth Well-being strategy.