2021 Honors and Awards

2021 Honors and Awards

 View these videos to see more of how our recipients feel about their award.
Award Nominee Bio
Early Career Audiologist Award

Samantha Kleindienst Robler, PhD, AuD 

Population Health/Clinical Informatics Lead

Norton Sound Health Corporation

Samantha Kleindienst Robler’s well-rounded contributions in clinical practice, research, and patient care warrant the 2021 Early Career Audiologist Award.

Dr. Robler currently serves as a clinical audiologist and Population Health Informatics Lead with Norton Sound Health Corporation in Nome, Alaska, as well as Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Hawaii.

Dr. Robler’s accomplishments are diverse and extensive. She holds both AuD and PhD degrees with two post-doctoral fellowships, has 11 peer-reviewed publications and has contributed to over 50 lectures and posters at professional meetings in addition to numerous invited presentations. Her work has led to significant innovation and transformation—Dr. Robler has filed 13 invention disclosures and several patent applications. 

Dr. Robler has served on five ASHA committees, two Academy committees, and was recently elected to the Academy Board of Directors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she shared her knowledge of telemedicine and remote patient management solutions and volunteered to assist many audiologists get their clinics functioning in communities that were locked down.


Honors of the Academy 

Erin L. Miller, AuD

Professor of Instruction

NOAC Coordinator
School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
University of Akron 

A role model of integrity and leadership, the Academy is pleased to bestow its 2021 Honors of the Academy to Erin L. Miller in recognition of her significant contributions to the field of audiology.

Dr. Miller has maintained an unbroken record of professional service and leadership, working tirelessly in the public eye and behind the scenes. She has served on over 60 committees and councils.

Nationally, she served on the Academy Board of Directors, is a past president of the Academy, and chaired the 2019 AAA Annual Conference. She also served as president of the Ohio Academy of Audiology and as the representative for the Ohio Speech and Hearing Governmental Affairs Coalition for 15 years. Through her work, Dr. Miller brings a consistent and unruffled approach to leadership.

As coordinator of the Northeast Ohio AuD Consortium, Dr. Miller ensures The University of Akron, Kent State University, and Cleveland Clinic act as one entity to benefit their students. She teaches multiple courses, deftly weaving theory and practice from classroom to clinic, and precepts in the clinic.

Dr. Miller also teaches beyond the university, including multiple presentations and publications. She is especially renowned on the complex topic of professional ethics, advancing this issue as a mainstream value shaping our professional identity.


Jerger Career Award for
Research in Audiology

René Gifford, PhD

Professor, Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, Vanderbilt Director, Cochlear Implant Program, Vanderbilt School of Medicine

René Gifford is an active clinician/scientist who maintains a clinical practice in the cochlear implant clinic at Vanderbilt, seeing adults and children who use cochlear implants and hearing aids.

Her 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.

Dr. Gifford’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health for nearly 20 years and she has published over 120 peer-reviewed articles, multiple book chapters, and a book, now in its second edition, Cochlear Implant Patient Assessment: Evaluation of Candidacy, Performance, and Outcomes.

She was a featured scientist on National Public Radio, Science Friday broadcast, Breakthrough: Portraits of Women in Science—Hearing a Whole New World. 

Dr. Gifford has especially enjoyed teaching and mentoring the next generation of clinicians and clinician-scientists. She couldn’t have wished for a more fulfilling career and looks forward to many more years of scientific discovery, teaching, mentorship, and evidence-based practice ensuring that every individual can achieve their maximum hearing potential.


Marion Downs Pediatric
Audiology Award

Eileen Rall, AuD, ABAC

Senior Audiologist and Program Coordinator, Department of Audiology and the Center for Childhood Communication, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

During her impressive 33-year career in audiology, Eileen Rall has served as an exceptional educator, clinician, and leader in pediatric audiology.

Most recently, Dr. Rall served as the clinical coordinator at the Center for Childhood Communication of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In this role, she successfully improved multidisciplinary services for children and their families by creating a distinctive program with ongoing services for comprehensive coordinated assessment and intervention for infants and toddlers with hearing loss.

Dr. Rall is a highly sought presenter on a variety of pediatric topics, including the assessment of infants and children and how to support teens and families. She has published widely about the psychosocial development of children with hearing loss, pediatric amplification, and counseling. She also has taught courses in pediatric topics at Salus University for nine years.

Dr. Rall has been a productive volunteer for countless organizations and committees, including the Society for Ear, Nose, Throat Advances in Children; Knowledge Implementation in Pediatric Audiology; the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, the Pennsylvania Department of Health Infant Hearing Screening Advisory Committee; and many others. Most recently, she was the 2018-2020 Chair of the Taskforce for Audiologic Guidelines for the Assessment of Hearing in Infants and Young Children Revision.


 International Award

Suzanne C. Purdy, PhD

Head of School of Psychology, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Suzanne C. Purdy is a true international audiologist, having made substantial contributions to the profession of audiology in New Zealand and globally over her 30-plus year career.


After earning her PhD at the University of Iowa, she helped establish New Zealand’s first audiology master’s program and then spent three years as senior research scientist at National Acoustic Laboratories in Sydney, Australia.

She has held multiple academic positions at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, where she is currently head of the School of Psychology.

Dr. Purdy has published 160 peer-reviewed articles in top audiology and medical journals and is in high demand as an international speaker.

Her extensive research interests range from auditory processing disorders to the effects of socioeconomic deprivation on hearing loss and language delay in children. With colleagues, she has originated novel approaches to rehabilitation for neurological conditions, including Māori-led community initiatives.

Dr. Purdy’s professional service is extensive, but most notably, her ancestral links to the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand have led her to take a strong interest in Māori hearing health and wellbeing. She is held in high esteem and affection by her patients, students, and international colleagues, evidenced by supporters of Dr. Purdy’s awards nomination from six nations.


Clinical Excellence in
Audiology Award 

Richard Roberts, PhD

Associate Professor and Vice Chair Clinical Operations, Vice Chair of Clinical Operations and Assistant Professor in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Richard Roberts is a distinguished clinician whose expertise in vestibular assessment and management has resulted in improved quality of life for countless individuals. He regularly presents at professional conferences and has published numerous chapters and peer-reviewed articles on aspects of vestibular sciences.

He co-authored the clinical practice guidelines regarding positional vertigo, stemming from work on an expert panel with the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation.

In addition to his current administrative role, he has influenced the careers of hundreds of AuD students through his academic abilities in teaching vestibular courses, mentorship of student research projects, and preceptorship of students in their respected Balance Disorders Clinic.

Prior to Vanderbilt, he was director of clinical research at American Institute of Balance and, more recently, co-owner/director of Alabama Hearing and Balance Associates. In 2015, Audigy Group recognized his clinic with the Outstanding Practice Achievement Award. Dr. Roberts has served on the Academy Board of Directors, has been program chair for Academy’s annual conference, and has been a trustee on the Academy’s Foundation Board.