2020 Academy Honors Recipients

2020 Academy Honors Recipients

The American Academy of Audiology would like to congratulate the 2020 Academy honorees. These luminaries have made significant contributions within the audiology profession or hearing sciences.

With the cancellation of AAA 2020 in New Orleans, winners will receive recognition at the AAA 2021 Virtual conference, April 14-16. 


Honors of the Academy Award

Paul Pessis, AuD

Paul Pessis, AuD, is the owner and founder of North Shore Audio-Vestibular Lab. He is also an instructor at Rush University and is a sought-after speaker on private practice and coding and reimbursement issues. Dr. Pessis has additionally served on the Academy Board of Directors and as president of the Academy.

Dr. Pessis’ wisdom and foresight assisted in the creation of the Academy’s Coding and Reimbursement Committee, the Coding and Practice Management Committee, the Academy’s Practice Policy Advisory Council, the Academy’s involvement in Audiology code development and valuation via participation in the CPT Editorial Panel and RUC processes, and the representation of the profession with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Always, at the forefront of his efforts is his belief in Audiology as an autonomous profession deserving of professional reimbursement. Dr. Pessis’ leadership and persistence ensured a successful petition to garner Audiology seats at both the AMA CPT and RUC Health Care Professionals Advisory Committees, for which he serves as the Academy’s RUC HCPAC representative.

Additionally, he is the sole audiology representative to the Hearing Instrument Manufacturer’s Software Association (HIMSA) Board, an international board comprised of the six hearing aid company leaders, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE).

From creating standards for new professionals to his role in maintaining appropriate valuation of the diagnostic services we provide, Dr. Pessis’ leadership spans all realms of the profession. The Academy is pleased to bestow its 2020 Honors of the Academy to Dr. Paul Pessis, in recognition of his significant contributions to the field audiology.

Jerger Career Award for Research in Audiology

Linda J. Hood, PhD

Linda J. Hood, PhD, is the quintessential audiologist and hearing scientist, having made significant contributions to both clinical and basic science research over her 40-plus year career. After earning her PhD at the University of Maryland, College Park, she completed a three-year NIH post-doctoral fellowship at the Kresge Hearing Research Laboratory studying auditory anatomy and physiology.

Over the course of her academic career, she has held faculty positions at Louisiana State University Departments of Otolaryngology, Communication Disorders, Neuroscience, and Genetics, before taking her current position as a faculty member in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Hood’s has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles in top audiology and medical journals. She is an outstanding scholar and clinician scientist who has provided foundational insights into the diagnosis of auditory disorders and their genetic bases. Her research in the areas of hereditary hearing loss, novel assays of afferent and efferent neural function, and the clinical diagnosis and management of auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder have had a lasting and meaningful impact on the profession of audiology. 

She has been consistently funded by NIH and is currently modeling auditory responses and behaviors in pre-term infants. In addition, Dr. Hood has been an active research mentor to many future investigators, including her leadership on the NIH-NIDCD Developing Research Careers in the Hearing Sciences training grant for AuD students. 

As a founding member of the American Academy of Audiology, Dr. Hood is also a dedicated leader in the profession of audiology. She has held multiple leadership roles including past-president for the American Academy of Audiology, the American Auditory Society, and the International Society of Audiology.  

Dr. Hood’s nominators describe her as a “giving mentor” whose “strong expertise,” “strength and perseverance,” and “passion and enjoyment of our profession” clearly demonstrate the indelible impact she has had on her colleagues and the profession of audiology.

Outstanding Educator Award

Elaine A. Mormer, PhD

Elaine A. Mormer, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders at the University of Pittsburgh, where she has taught didactic and clinical courses, provided clinical education, and mentored students on research projects. She currently serves as the vice chair for clinical education for the department. In this role, she oversees clinical instruction and clinical placements. 

In 2013, Dr. Mormer received the Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. She was the co-recipient of the Provosts’ Innovation in Education Award for her role as co-director of an over-the-counter hearing aid certificate program for pharmacy students in 2019.

Dr. Mormer has facilitated continuing education activities on evidence-based teaching, through publications and presentations. In addition, she has served as the course coordinator and annual presenter at the University of Pittsburgh’s biennial Audiology Teaching Conference. 

She currently serves as the vice president for clinical education resource development for the Council on Academic Programs in Communication Science and Disorders (CAPCSD). She has worked with the Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE) and the Academy’s Academic Program Committee on the annual joint Clinical Education Forum, sponsored by CAPCSD and the Academy.

Early-Career Audiologist Award

David P. Jedlicka, AuD

David P. Jedlicka, AuD, began his graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Since his graduation in 2010, he has made numerous notable contributions to the profession of audiology through his outstanding clinical practice, teaching and mentoring, research, and service. 

Dr. Jedlicka currently works at the Pittsburgh VA Medical Center. While at the Pittsburgh VA, he has developed numerous evidence-based protocols for auditory processing testing and treatment, osseointegrated devices, and hearing aids. He has led 24 quality improvement projects in his department to improve patient care. In addition to his clinical duties, Dr. Jedlicka serves as principal investigator or co-investigator on numerous research projects about real-ear to coupler difference, self-perceived hearing loss in Veterans, and other topics. 

In addition to his clinical practice and research at the VA, Dr. Jedlicka teaches a lab for audiology students at the University of Pittsburgh. Furthermore, he serves as a mentor for students who are submitting their research to professional conferences, provides customized tutorials and practice sessions for students, volunteers on a grand rounds committee for students, and serves as a clinical preceptor for final year AuD students. His students comment every year that he goes above and beyond his required teaching duties to ensure that his students and prepared for their careers.

Dr. Jedlicka also volunteers in professional organizations. His extensive service to audiology has included an active role on more than 20 committees, several of which he has served as chair. He is also currently the president-elect of the Association of VA Audiologist (AVAA).

Clinical Excellence in Audiology Award

Robert M. DiSogra, AuD

Robert M. DiSogra, AuD, has dedicated the majority of his career to promoting an understanding of the pharmacologic effects on hearing and balance among audiologists around the world. While teaching at Rutgers University over 25 years ago he questioned why his patients had clinical complaints of hearing loss, yet their test data showed no evidence of peripheral loss. He then went beyond his clinical practice to initiate an unprecedented review of evidence that identified the influences of pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals on hearing loss and tinnitus.  

In a series of publications for audiologists over the past 20 plus years, Dr. DiSogra distinguished his audiology career by identifying over 400 adverse auditory/vestibular side effects related to more than 2000 drugs. He later developed and taught the pharmacology/ototoxicity distance-learning course while pursuing his own degree at Salus University.

By 2019, 25 AuD programs were offering a dedicated pharmacology course, in part, because of this pharmacological connection to hearing and balance disorders. He is a sought-after presenter at state and national audiology association meetings.

Dr. DiSogra has left a legacy for our field. He recently served on the Academy’s Pharmacology Task Force, which explored the requirements for prescriptive privileges for audiologists.  

Audiologists who have used his publications, or have been his students, or attended any of his presentations, have certainly benefited from Dr. DiSogra’s expertise in the field. 

Samuel F. Lybarger Industry Award

Claus Elberling, DSc

Claus Elberling, DSc, is being honored with the Samuel F. Lybarger Industry Award for his numerous contributions through research and engineering in the field of audiology. He began his career in Denmark with an MSc in electronic engineering and a doctor of medical sciences (DSc) from the University of Copenhagen. His early career focused on research in the area of electrophysiology. He developed tools for better testing and interpretation for electrocochleography (ECochG), auditory brainstem response (ABR), auditory steady-state response (ASSR), and otoacoustic emissions (OAEs).  

During his career, he has worked for Oticon where he made significant contributions in hearing aid research, development, and fitting including the development of the first fully digital ear-level hearing aid in the world (DigiFocus). After his retirement from the Oticon Eriksholm Research Centre, he worked as an executive scientist in the Demant Group—especially for Oticon and Interacoustics. 

In 1985, he published the first OAE-recordings from a group of newborns. Most recently his research has focused on the development of chirp stimuli for testing of newborns and infants. He has over 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals and numerous international presentations. His contributions to the field of audiology through basic and applied research and his time working in industry has made significant improvements to testing, treatment, and overall patient care.  

Marion Downs Pediatric Audiology Award

Jessica J. Messersmith, PhD

Jessica J. Messersmith, PhD, has been award the Marion Downs Pediatric Audiology Award which is given to those who demonstrate a commitment to improving the quality of care of pediatric patients. Dr. Messersmith started her career in Nebraska where she earned her PhD at the University of Nebraska and worked as a research assistant at Boys Town National Hospital. She then moved to the University of South Dakota (USD), where she has been faculty and now department chair. Her research and clinical area of interest are in cochlear implants, particularly pediatric cochlear implants. 

Dr. Messersmith has the desire to ensure that those children getting implants are receiving consistent care no matter where their care is housed which is why she also has worked on documents such as the Academy’s Cochlear Implant Guidelines

At USD she instructs AuD students in both the pediatrics class and the cochlear implants class, stressing evidenced based assessment and treatment for children with hearing loss. Clinically, she sees cochlear implant patients, particularly children, regularly as part of her academic duties. In addition, she also takes students to serve children who use cochlear implants in the rural and underserved areas of South Dakota, including tribal lands within the state. In addition, she has worked to improve outcomes of the early hearing detection and intervention program in South Dakota. 

Humanitarian Award

King Chung, PhD

King Chung, PhD, uses her expertise and her passion for teaching to tackle different needs in humanitarian audiology. As a professor and audiology program director at Northern Illinois University, she has led students onto 11 humanitarian trips and provided hearing services to more than 4,000 underserved children and adults in seven countries/governing regions in the past 10 years. 

Dr. Chung’s research instincts shine in her collaborations with international colleagues to disseminate the testing results, to increase the awareness of hearing health, and to advocate for better hearing services around the world. Their clinical findings provided key evidence for the high hearing service demand in many communities. Her advocacy also extends her to be a founding coeditor of the column, Audiology Without Borders, and the director of Best Practices of Coalition for Global Hearing Health. 

Additionally, Dr. Chung’s entrepreneurial spirit and her creativity in R&D have resulted in the development of a low-cost calibration system and automatic hearing test applications for children and adults. With the success of pilot testing in the United States, she received a 2019 Fulbright Scholar Award to verify the applications’ efficacy and accuracy in Brazil. These programs will be released for public use at a nominal cost soon.