In memoriam: Susan Small


It is with deep sadness that we share the news that our dear colleague and esteemed scholar, Dr. Susan Small, passed away on January 11, 2022. On behalf of the School of Audiology and Speech Sciences, I wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to Susan’s beloved family, friends, students, and colleagues at this difficult time.

At the School, Susan was an Associate Professor and Hamber Professor in Clinical Audiology since 2014, and an Assistant Professor from 2007 to 2014. Prior to her professorial appointment at UBC, Susan was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Psychology at UBC (2007) and completed her Doctoral degree in the School with Professor David Stapells (2001-2007). During her doctoral studies, Susan served in various instructional capacities, including Teaching Assistant, Lab Instructor, and Sessional Instructor. Preceding her doctoral training, Susan completed a B.Sc. Honours degree in Zoology at UBC (1986), an M.Sc. degree in Biological Sciences from SFU (1988), and a Masters degree in Audiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1991). Susan then practiced as an audiologist in the lower mainland from 1993-2006 at Sonus-Fraserview Hearing Clinics, and British Columbia Children’s Hospital. As a practicing audiologist she was a valuable clinical educator for a number of audiology students in the School.

Susan’s teaching and research in the School focused on pediatric audiology. She advanced students’ and colleagues’ understanding of the maturation of hearing through her work on peripheral and central auditory processing in infancy and early childhood. Susan was particularly interested in early assessment of hearing loss using brainstem auditory evoked potentials and behavioural measures to air- and bone-conducted stimuli. She also investigated ways to assess discrimination of speech sounds at the level of the auditory cortex using physiological measures. Susan’s vigorous research program received continuous federal funding from NSERC over the years. As a mentor, Susan enjoyed working with many undergraduate, masters and doctoral students throughout her years at the School. She was also committed to providing students with interprofessional training opportunities, both through her leadership role in UBC Health’s Health Care Team Challenge and Health Mentor’s Program, and by collaborating with other School faculty in developing virtual cases that bridged audiology and speech-language pathology practice.

In recognition of Susan’s substantial scholarly contributions to hearing science and audiology, she was invited to present her research findings and provide workshops at numerous local, national, and international meetings and venues. She also shared her pediatric audiology expertise with the British Columbia Early Hearing Program since its inception in 2005, was a Board member and research collaborator with the BC Family Hearing Resource Society since 2014, and served as Council Member and Treasurer for the International Evoked Response Audiometry Study Group (from 2009).

Susan’s sharp intellect and passion for research and her dedication to training students and serving the School and professional communities have left a lasting legacy at the School. On a personal level, the ease, kindness and warmth with which Susan welcomed others into conversation will be profoundly missed by all who knew her. Susan gifted us with a few favourite memories of her time at the School during our School’s 50th Anniversary in 2019:

We welcome everyone to contribute your memories and celebration of Susan’s life and work by posting below.

49 responses to “In memoriam: Susan Small”

  1. Barbara May Bernhardt

    It was a great pleasure to know Susan and share many conversations with her about family, life in general and the crossover between audiology and speech-language pathology as it concerned people with hearing loss. I especially enjoyed working with her to create virtual cases together for crossover projects for students in AUDI 528 (Aural Rehabilitation) and AUDI 570 (Phonological Intervention with the Hearing and Hearing-Impaired). I would like to express my deepest sympathy and condolences to her family and friends and will remember with fondness the times we got to chat last summer in her living room after her diagnosis.

  2. Stefka

    Susan was an esteemed, conscientious, and diligent colleague and mentor. She will be missed!

  3. Ruth Warick for the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, BC Chapter

    We have lost a committed and valued professional who made a difference in the lives of persons with hearing loss. We are the better for her contributions. Her loss is deeply felt by many and we pass on our condolences.

  4. Miron Gazda

    Susan was my Audiologist many years ago. She also attended the CHHA (Canadian Hard of Hearing Association) W2H (Walk 2 Hear) event several times.

  5. Laurie Usher

    The field of infant hearing has lost a key contributor. My sincere condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.

  6. Valter

    Susan was a colleague who was passionate about her research and about making sure that students in our program learned about best practice and the latest developments in her field. She was professional and respectful in her interactions with colleagues. She always had a welcoming smile. Susan had also inner strength and courage as she faced health challenges in her family, and lately her own health issues. On a personal level, I will fondly remember our casual conversations in the School lounge. We lost a colleague who made excellent contributions to her profession, and to our School. She will be sorely missed.

  7. Kelly T

    Susan was the first to volunteer to help and put others before herself. She will be remembered as a generous mom, colleague, mentor and master of Audiology. My heart and sympathies go out to her two sons and husband Oscar.

  8. David Stapells

    Words escape me. Such a terrible and unfair loss!

    Susan was a great Ph.D. student and, subsequently, a very, very, valued colleague. My research collaborations with Susan were extensive and continuing (and still going on, as she watches on). She is highly thought of in her field. Indeed, she is considered one of only a couple world experts in maturation of bone-conduction hearing.

    Most importantly, Susan was a truly good person. Always time for people; only good things to offer.

    I miss her greatly (as do so many others).

    Michelle and I offer our sincere condolences to Susan’s family.

  9. Paola Colozzo

    Susan accomplished so much in a life that was cut too short, managing to successfully juggle her family and work responsibilities and become a respected scholar and leader in her field.
    Susan was a valued colleague whom I trusted completely. We had many many conversations over the years, trying to find at least partial solutions to complex work and life problems. We also talked about how proud she was of her children and how lucky she felt to have met Oscar and have someone to share this phase of her life. And we laughed a lot. I recall one work dinner in particular where Susan entertained us with hilarious stories from her childhood and I could not stop laughing—although I knew I probably should tone it down!
    I will remember Susan fondly and sorely miss her presence at the School. Her legacy will live on through the many people she taught and trained, and with whom she collaborated.
    I offer my heartfelt condolences to her family and close friends.

  10. Linda Rammage

    Susan was always a friendly, helpful colleague at SASS. I enjoyed sharing a plane ride with her to Montreal several years ago, which provided an opportunity to learn more about her many passions, including her family, her clinical life and her devotion to her research. I am sure the world is a better place because of her many contributions. Condolences to all! Linda

  11. Ronald N Adjekum

    The demise of my Professor, Susan Small is a huge loss for which I can not fully express in words

    She was a great supervisor/mentor who particularly helped me to climb a steep academic ladder in my Ph.D. program. She was
    very compassionate and doubled as a parent figure to me and my family. Knowing her good heart and warm personality, I believe she is resting in paradise. Indeed, her vision and work on infant hearing will be carried on.

    I am eternally grateful to Susan.
    My sincere condolences to her family and colleagues.

  12. Professor Robert Cowan

    Susan was one of those people who achieved the wonderful balance of being internationally successful in a highly competitive academic environment and clinical field, while retaining her warmth, humour and willingness to meet all with a smile! In her international work as IERASG’s Treasurer and council member she offered sound and thoughtful advice. She was a wonderful colleague. My deepest sympathies to her family.

  13. Hadeel Ayyad. Assistant Professor, Kuwait University

    Will never forget Susan. She will remain in my heart, thoughts and prayers. Hope her sole rests in peace. I pray for the wellness of her beloved ones. I learned from Susan more than Audiology. The giving smiling face, the loving compassionate mother and daughter. You are in a better place Susan. My deepest sympathy to her family and the Faculty members of SASS.

  14. Jeffrey Shaw

    Sorry to hear such sad news. Susan taught me electrophysiology and pediatric audiology courses back when I was a student in 2007-2009. Every day I use the knowledge she taught me and apply it to my clinical practice in Ontario. She was always upbeat, friendly, and passionate about the field. My deepest sympathy to her family, friends, and colleagues.

  15. Janet Werker

    I had the pleasure of working with Susan as her PDF advisor, for a brief 6 months as she then got the job in SASS. And, for years after that she remained part of my lab, joining us for get togethers and such – bringing spirit and fun to all. I also had the pleasure of writing wth her, and of being on committees for one another’s students. It’s hard to fathom that she is now gone. A bright and beautiful light has been extinguished way, way too early.

  16. Prof. Martin Walger

    This is really very sad news at the beginning of the year! Susan was a wonderful friend and colleague whom I first met at the wonderful symposium of the International Evoked Response Audiometry Study Group (IERASG) in Vancouver in 2001. For many years she supported the work of the IERASG Council, serving as Treasurer since 2009. We will miss her greatly and express our deepest condolences to her family and friends. Martin

    Prof. Martin Walger, Cologne, Germany
    IERASG Council Member and Secretary

  17. Zachary Rothman

    I worked with Susan on a series of educational films a few years ago. She was kind, supportive, funny and insightful. I’ll remember her for her warmth and the way she listened intently to every person’s ideas. I’ve never thought of her as a consummate listener before now, but i think that’s how i’ll remember her.

  18. Penelope Bacsfalvi

    Penelope Bacsfalvi, PhD, SLP

    It is with great sadness that I learned of Susan’s illness and now her early parting. I have known Susan many years- while completing our PhD’s at SASS and throughout our careers. She was a passionate advocate in her field and we had many interesting discussions about work and the intersection of our fields over the years. I also had the opportunity to know Susan as a neighbour in my community and discuss renovations, baking and gardening. Susan was always open for discussion and knowledgeable about so many things. The last few years we had had less chance to connect, and this I regret. My deepest condolences to Susan’s inner circle. You will be missed Susan.

  19. April Tian

    Susan was both a friend and a mentor to me. I have worked with her since my 2nd year of undergraduate studies. She has always been a kind and compassionate mentor with many charming anecdotes that brightens the day. When I hit a road bump in my studies, she was always there to encourage me. I am eternally grateful to have had her be a part of my life. I will miss her greatly. My deepest condolences to her family.

  20. Charlotte Tai

    I was a student of Susan’s in the last year that she taught at UBC. She was my introduction to pediatric audiology. I will remember Susan as being generous with her time and her anecdotes, both professional and personal. She was always willing to entertain my questions, share her expertise, and have a nice long chat about any topic within or outside the realm of audiology. My condolences to Susan’s family and friends.

  21. JB Orange

    Faculty, staff and students from our School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Western University, London Canada extend our sympathies to Professor Small’s family, and to her and to our colleagues in the School of Audiology and Speech Sciences at UBC. We grieve your loss and the loss to the larger academic and clinical professional communities.

  22. Dana

    Susan was so kind when our daughter got her hearing tested. She helped her through the process with a smile. Your caring ways will be missed, Susan.

  23. Charles Laszlo

    I have known and worked with Susan both in the academic environment and ‘on the field’ delivering services to deaf and hard of hearing children and their families. For her, academe was not an ivory tower and through her volunteer work on the Board of Directors of the BC Family Hearing Resource Society she has made an outstanding contribution to the delivery of communication services to the youngest children with hearing loss.

    Susan was always the consummate professional, and a warm, generous and friendly human being. She was a great colleague and, for me and many others, a good friend. We will greatly miss her calm advice, her infectious energy and warm smile.

    Speaking for myself and in the name of the Board of the BC Family Hearing Resource Society, I offer my condolences to Susan’s family.

  24. Wendy Duke

    Horribly sad news. One of the people I most enjoyed chatting with in the corridor between our offices. Best to get family.

  25. Terry Picton

    Susan was a conscientious and perceptive scientist. She was also a kind and considerate colleague. I will remember her stories and her laughter. May her memory be a blessing to all who have interacted with her.

  26. Foong Yen Chong

    Words couldn’t express my sadness. I am grateful to be able to meet Susan during my MSc and PhD studies in Vancouver, Canada. I first met Susan during the MSc program at UBC. Then, Susan became one of my committee members during the early stage of my PhD program at UBC. She was always being so kind and helpful. I remembered her as a friendly person. It was always a pleasant to chat with her about the PhD journey, the challenges and tips on how to keep ourselves motivated during the PhD years. We also talked about how my career path would be when I return to my home country. Her passion on maturation on bone-conduction hearing was so inspiring that I even brought my baby to her lab as a research participant. It is such a great loss to the Audiology field. My deepest condolences to Susan’s family and friends.

  27. Marlene Bagatto

    I have known Susan most of my career. We shared many conversations about infant hearing loss and compared notes about the programs in BC and Ontario. I got to know her through the many conferences she attended. It was always nice to see a friendly face in a far off land and review the daily conference activities. In the small world of pediatric audiology, Susan made a big impression with her scientific contributions and collaborative, friendly nature. Her passing is a big loss for the field and she will be missed.

  28. Shannon MacLean

    I am stunned to learn of Susan’s passing. Such exuberance extinguished? It doesn’t seem possible. She radiated such a warm, bright light.

    We first connected as students sharing interests in auditory electrophysiology, having both made that harrowing leap from practicing audiologist to doctoral student. Susan was completing her studies as I was beginning mine and so could offer loads of insight to the path ahead.

    Although our careers took different paths I frequently encountered Susan in the halls of UBC and at conferences where she continued to light the path….

    Goodbye, Susan, torchlight. The world was a brighter place with you in it.

  29. Lisa Fong

    I am so saddened to hear this news. Susan and I worked together at Sonus, and she was so encouraging to me as a new audiologist. We went to LA together for a AAA conference with many good memories. We then went our separate ways, but always ran into each other in the “audiology world” and I always enjoyed our conversations, catching up on our lives. It was evident that she had a deep love for her family. She will be greatly missed.

  30. AJ Hildebrand

    I don’t have the words I’m trying to find to share how sad and shocked I feel in this moment… I only knew Susan for a brief time while a student with the School, but I appreciated our chats and her sharp sense of humour whenever we spoke. I don’t know what’s happened but I feel for her family at home and for her family at school who will all miss her even more greatly.

  31. Janet Jamieson

    Susan was a dedicated and conscientious scientist and practitioner, always aware of the impact of her work on both the field of infant hearing and individual infants and their families. I appreciated her warmth and friendliness whenever we spoke. My condolences to her family (of whom she spoke with such pride and affection), friends, and colleagues.

  32. Darlene Hicks

    I am thankful that I had the opportunity to work with Susan at UBC. She always had a friendly, welcoming smile, a good story to tell and knowledge to share. She cared very deeply about her students and her research. Her contributions to the field of infant hearing assessment have had impact on early treatment for countless numbers of people. She will be greatly missed.

  33. Jeff Small

    I will remember Susan as a colleague who was always willing to listen. She was approachable, genuine, and funny, which meant that she put others at ease. There wasn’t a topic you could broach with Susan on which she didn’t have some insights and experiences to share (“That reminds me of…”). As Director, I could always count on Susan being willing to serve on a committee, or provide feedback or advice, even when her workload was heavy. On one particular day despite having just recovered from an illness, and having had to take her family member to the hospital in the morning, she nevertheless took over work for another sick colleague, and proceeded to attend a committee meeting the same day. She seemed to have an endless reserve of energy and determination to make sure things got done! Susan’s considerate, generous and indomitable spirit will continue to be an inspiration and fond memory for me. I will miss her.

  34. Erin Hansen

    Very sorry to hear this sad news. Susan was my thesis supervisor during my studies at UBC. She was a very talented, kind and dedicated professor. My deepest condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.

  35. Allison Mackey

    Susan was my thesis supervisor during my masters. She was an exceptional supervisor and mentor. After learning I wanted to pursue a career in academia, Susan went above and beyond to ensure I left Vancouver with all doors wide open. She sent me to my first international conference to present on our study, supported me during the writing and publication of my two first manuscripts, and encouraged me to teach a course soon after I graduated. She believed in me even when I doubted myself.

    I learned so much from Susan – research methods, critical thinking, scientific writing… the list goes on and on. One fond memory I have is laughing together when she commented “nicely written!” in the margin of our manuscript, not recognizing the passage was one she herself had written many drafts prior. The ease at which she wrote so clearly and eloquently impresses me still today, and I continue to strive to her standard.

    I am forever in debt to Susan for the opportunities I have had because of her and for the wealth of knowledge I have gained, not only about research but also about what it means to be a mentor. Susan truly cared about her students and did everything in her power to see them succeed. I hope to one day pass that on!

  36. Henry Lam

    I took over Susan’s AUDI 528 in Aural Rehabilitation when she started her leave in the Fall of 2020. We had a really good chat as she was passing the torch over to me. She reminisced with me how we were kind of classmates. When she was doing her PhD, I was doing my M.Sc. She audited a few of our classes. She also happened to be the first audiologist I observed during my first semester in the program. She was still working at Sonus at the time.

    I am so happy that I was able to have such a long and meaningful conversation with her in 2020. I didn’t realize that it would also be my last conversation with her. However, it is a precious memory of Susan that I wanted to share with you all.

  37. marie pigeon

    I was lucky to have a chance to collaborate with Susan in our shared work in pediatric audiology. Gosh we are going to miss her. Susan was talented, and smart, and dedicated, and had a wonderful quirky sense of fun. My deep condolences to her family and friends and colleagues

  38. Priya Kandhadai

    Very sad news. Susan was always excited to talk about research. The thing that always stood out was how kind she was, and how easily she established a connection with you. She will be dearly missed!

  39. Hope Valeriote

    What a tremendous loss that is felt throughout our community. Susan will be missed. She was an exceptional mentor to me as my thesis supervisor who brought much positivity, encouragement and wisdom. The impact she has had on shaping my career will not be forgotten. Her love for her work was inspiring for so many. My condolences to her family and loved ones.

  40. Lori Bell

    Susan was a strong advocate of the BC Early Hearing Program (BCEHP) on a local and international level. She is a world leader in the area of bone-conduction hearing in infants and children. Her significant contributions that have directly impacted BCEHP include publications in the field that have advanced our understanding of auditory-evoked potentials and have been incorporated in BC’s ABR protocols.

    A list of some of her publications may be found here: and

    Susan’s involvement in continuing education and mentorship opportunities for Public Health Audiologists, her presentations at BCEHP provincial training workshops and her role as an ABR-CQI panel member have improved clinical knowledge and the expertise of clinicians providing pediatric ABR services in BC. Susan was always willing to help the BCEHP and we collaborated annually to prepare her students for a meaningful career in pediatric audiology. It was a pleasure and honour to be part of Susan’s class.

    As a program we are deeply grateful to her for all of her contributions and we keep her, and her family, in our thoughts.
    ~Diane Bremner, Alison Beers, Lori Bell and Jenny Hatton, on behalf of the BCEHP

  41. Barbara Purves

    I first met Susan when she was a doctoral student at SASS, where I was on faculty. Although I didn’t know her well then, I soon learned that she was a great person to have on one’s team. In 2003, she volunteered to join a quickly-formed crew to help me (for the first and only time) to skipper a sailboat in a race. Even now, nearly twenty years on, I can picture her working happily with everyone to get the boat across the finish line. Those early impressions were confirmed many times over in later years, as I had the privilege and pleasure of working with Susan on faculty before my retirement in 2015. Although our areas of research and teaching were very different, I had many occasions to appreciate and benefit from her expertise, her knowledge, her commitment, and, no matter how much she was already doing (and it was always a lot!) her willingness to help out with whatever more needed doing. More than that, she was a warm, lively, wonderful person. My very deepest condolences go to her family, her friends, and her colleagues.

  42. Charles Fontaine

    My condolences to Susan’s family and friends.
    We overlapped in the HAPLAB when I was doing my M.Sc. research and Susan was working on her Ph.D. Susan’s help in the lab was invaluable – I learned so much from her. I have fond memories of our chats about research and life in general, which continued when we ran into each other at UBC or at conferences.
    Susan will be greatly missed.

  43. Sandy Taylor

    Susan and I often had an opportunity for a work update and a visit over lunch. She loved a good conversation! Susan always prioritized her students, her office and lab doors were open, and she welcomed anyone who came by. She would coo and tickle the babies and then ask everyone if they had any more babies who might want to come by for a visit.
    Her other equally favorite topic over lunch was her family and she shared warm stories of her home life, with pride. My thoughts are with you all, I miss her.

  44. Marcia Choi

    Susan was amongst the first to welcome me in 2015 when I arrived to join the School. While I admire her accomplishments and stature in her work, it is the loss of her as a person I will grieve. Being only one office door away, it was not unusual for her to stand in my doorway after work hours and share our respective parenting and family care stories. My memories are recent but indelible, which is a sign of how uniquely kind Susan was to people. When I was prevaricating about which car should be my first new car purchase, Susan insisted I drive her Subaru Forester home to our shared neighbourhood, chortling about all its features, e.g. “I can sleep in the back and I am not a small woman!” When my father was having trouble walking, she gave me her dad’s old walker even though she commented that her dad was twice the size of mine but “At least it would not go to waste”. Meeting her and her wonderful Oscar at the Bay before their wedding, she was so proud and happy to introduce him, and still had time for a self-deprecating joke about the store not having much in her size. Susan always went out of her way to talk to my quiet 6’6″ son during his visits to my office, and how much that meant to me ( and him.) She was one of a kind, and the School was better for it. My sincerest condolences to Oscar and her sons.

  45. NZAS Paediatric Technical Advisory group

    We are greatly saddened to hear of Susan’s passing and the great loss to the Audiology profession. Susan was always willing to share her expert knowledge and information in ABR test protocols from the BCEHP. The NZ Audiological Society Paediatric Technical Advisory Group will always be grateful for Susan’s support to enable the development of paediatric protocol for use in NZ.

  46. Naomi Smith

    I am saddened to hear about Susan’s passing. She contributed significantly to the profession of audiology, but it was her warmth and kindness that I will always remember. Condolences to her family and friends.

  47. Ieda Ishida

    Susan was probably my 1st friend in Canada.

    We met when I was starting my post-doc with David Stapells, and she was finishing up her PhD with him.

    Unnecessary to comment on her intelligence and technical skills.

    Susan was anything but small … huge determination facing gracefully each obstacle that life would place on her way.
    She was a really well-rounded person! Sharp mind, kind heart, down to Earth person, genuine friend. She could literally carry on a conversation about anything: from electrophysiology to house renovations, world news, family, foreign cultures, gardening, and the best restaurant in town.

    She introduced me to the PNE junk food, we would host dinners to celebrate each other’s life events, go for brunch and even a few concerts together. Always a pleasant company whether we were discussing serious matters or just hanging out.

    I remember trying to convince her to ditch her flip phone for a smartphone. She did not see the point and contested that it was too much for her, but started considering the idea when I explained: “when in doubt, just swipe the screen”, for which she responded: “that, I can do”. 😀

    We were planning to get together and catching up the next time she would come visit family in the East coast. Unfortunately, that never happened.

    She was so incredibly proud of Nicholas and Christopher, the young men they have become, finding their way to independence!
    She had shared that her concerns raising them went beyond them being healthy and happy kids. It was also important that they would become caring husbands and considerate citizens who can make smart life choices. She knew she had succeeded in that, too.
    That was her: always thinking of others, the community, before herself.

    I hope she knew that, beyond her incontestable legacy in audiology, she also left meaningful marks on the lives of those she crossed paths with. I feel privileged to have been one of them.

    Rest in peace, my friend! You will be greatly missed.

  48. Linda

    So sorry to hear of Susan’s passing. Knew her all her life from babyhood and watched her grow up and become an amazing mother and academic. Our whole family will be thinking of her family during this hard time. Love Linda Allardyce (and Elizabeth and family)

  49. Diana Lamare

    I just heard the news about Susan and am feeling so heavy in my heart. I have come and gone to and from SASS for the past 12 years, first as a student and then in other roles. Although I have not been a “regular” around the school, every time I crossed paths with Susan, our conversations picked up from wherever we had left off weeks, months or years prior. I will always remember her kindness, her laugh, and her ability to tell a great story. My heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, clients and colleagues – and to Susan, may you be at peace wherever you are.

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