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American Academy of Audiology honors Gifford, Roberts

May. 6, 2021, 9:26 AM


by Emily Stembridge

Two faculty members from the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences — René Gifford, PhD, and Richard Roberts, PhD — were recognized for their work in the field at the 2021 American Academy of Audiology (AAA) convention.

René Gifford, PhD

“Both of these clinician scientists have made enormous contributions to our field,” said Anne Marie Tharpe, PhD, chair of the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences and associate director of the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center. “It is most fitting that they have received this national recognition for their work that has helped so many patients and clinicians.”

Gifford, professor of Hearing and Speech Sciences, director of the Vanderbilt Cochlear Implant Program, was awarded the Jerger Career Award for research in audiology. Gifford received the award for her innovative research contributions in the field of audiology, with groundbreaking impacts on the practice of audiology.

Richard Roberts, PhD

As director of the implant program, Gifford frequently works with adults and children with cochlear implants. Her current research interests include combined electric and acoustic stimulation (EAS) with cochlear implantation, speech and auditory perception for adults and children with hearing loss, and spatial hearing abilities of individuals combining hearing aids and cochlear implants.

Gifford’s research has been NIH funded for nearly 20 years. She has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles, multiple book chapters and a book, now in its second edition, titled “Cochlear Implant Patient Assessment: Evaluation of Candidacy, Performance, and Outcomes.”

“As an audiologist and hearing scientist, I get to work alongside the very best interdisciplinary team of professionals, and most importantly, I get to work with patients and study participants to help them reach their maximum hearing potential,” said Gifford.

“On top of this, I have the privilege of educating and mentoring our next generation of clinicians and clinician-scientists. Receiving the Jerger Career Award is a tremendous honor, and I am so very grateful for my fulfilling career and this award.”

Roberts, vice chair of Clinical Operations and associate professor of Hearing and Speech Sciences received the Clinical Excellence in Audiology award for his clinical work, which has resulted in improved quality of life for individuals with hearing and balance dysfunction.

As an expert in the assessment and management of vestibular dysfunction, Roberts helped develop the auditory test of temporal resolution (ATTR), a psychoacoustics tool available for free to researchers around the world. Roberts has served on the board of directors of the American Academy of Audiology and the Alabama Academy of Audiology, and he is currently a trustee of the American Academy of Audiology Foundation.

“This award completely caught me by surprise,” said Roberts. “I’ve had the good fortune of working with so many remarkable audiologists, including the 50 I work with at VUMC daily. We all make such an impact on the lives of people every day that any one of them is deserving of this recognition.”

“Throughout my 27 years as an audiologist I’ve always remained a clinician at heart, so accepting the clinical excellence award is very meaningful to me,” he said. “I feel so fortunate to have received this recognition.”

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