Awarded to an individual who has made important contributions to research, engineering, or other technological achievements within the field of audiology. He or she should have been or should be, employed by a company or corporation in the hearing/balance health-care field but must have made contributions that extend beyond their service to the company by furthering the field of audiology.
How to Nominate
The Academy Honors and Awards Committee encourages all Academy members to identify those colleagues they believe have made significant contributions to the audiology profession. If you know someone who should be recognized for his or her efforts, please take the time to submit a nomination packet to the committee for review. Read more about the nomination requirements and committee policies here.
Michael Santucci, AuD, merits the 2023 Samuel F. Lybarger Industry Award for his innovative contributions in engineering, technology, and advocacy for promoting hearing health among musicians, their crew, and music enthusiasts.
As a young audiologist and musician in the 1980s, Dr. Santucci saw an unrecognized appreciation for protecting the hearing health of performers working in the unregulated music industry. He then founded Sensaphonics and dedicated his life to increase acceptance of effective hearing loss prevention approaches, without compromising musical experiences. He has now pioneered multiple products that meet those targets.
He was the first audiologist to work with professional musicians, using the custom high-fidelity ‘musicians ear plug,’ the ER-15 filter, embedded in medical-grade silicone. Dr. Santucci developed unique in-ear monitors (IEM) with drivers that improve bass response without requiring high-volume inputs. His line of IEMs with ambient in-ear mikes allow performers and engineers to mix ambient sound without removing one “ear” to reconnect with audiences or other performers during a loud concert.
Beyond his technological achievements, Dr. Santucci has extended himself with public outreach and education in national and global hearing-related initiatives. He chaired the Academy’s 2020 task force that produced our consensus for recommended audiology-best practices targeting musicians and music-industry personnel.
While serving on the Academy’s Foundation Board, he inspired the Music and Hearing Research Grant Program for research in music-induced hearing disorders, and he secured contributions from guitars autographed by famous musicians. He is internationally respected and recognized by the World Health Organization, National Hearing Conservation Association, and Audio Engineering Society for his efforts regarding safe listening practices and promoting the safe use of personal audio devices.
He has truly championed audiology’s recognition of the opportunities in, and importance of, preventing hearing loss among musicians and their audiences.
Dr. Bankaitis is an invaluable resource to audiology. She is a pioneer who pushed practice management boundaries to advance infection control. At a time when the need for infection control in an audiology setting was virtually unrecognized, she generated awareness and was the influencer of change. Dr. Bankaitis self-published the first books specifically outlining infection control implementation in the audiology clinic and helped create the Academy’s infection control guidelines in audiology.
Beyond infection control, Dr. Bankaitis applies her experiences as a medical audiologist, researcher, and business executive to offer solutions for the benefit of the profession and the patients we serve. Throughout her career, she has created free resource information on different clinical issues including hearing instrument considerations for amplified stethoscope users and on-ear capabilities of personal sound amplification products through her blog (aubankaitis.com) or the resource section of the Oaktree Products website. She is recognized as the “go-to” person for a wide range of topics and had the trust of the profession.
The Academy is pleased to bestow its 2022 Samuel F. Lybarger Award to Dr. A.U. Bankaitis in recognition of her significant contributions that have positively impacted the profession of audiology.
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.
Ora Büerkli is receiving the Academy’s Samuel F. Lybarger Industry Award for her outstanding contributions to the field of audiology over the past 30 years. As vice president of global audiology for Phonak, she has been instrumental in ensuring a strong audiological perspective in the development of new products and fitting tools, and among the first to initiate controlled clinical trials of product performance -now the standard in our field.
Beyond being an advocate for patient benefit through hearing technology within the industry, her passion for audiology education and service delivery models led her to create a series of white papers known as “Phonak Focus.” Clinical topics include acoustic factors in hearing aid fitting and speech intelligibility in complex listening environments, among others, and were well-received globally.
She initiated the Phonak Pediatric Research Advisory Board which identified the most urgent research and education needs in pediatric audiology from an international perspective. In concert with Drs. Seewald, Gravel, and Bamford, she developed, “Sound Foundations.”This international conference series educates clinicians on new research findings and evidence-based strategies. These conferences and their published proceedings and educational materials have had a significant and positive impact on pediatric health care around the globe. Most recently, Ora has put forth an initiative on family-centered care in adult hearing rehabilitation.
In all, Ora’s leadership and passion for audiology has linked teams at Phonak with the scientific and clinical audiological communities internationally, transforming clinical practice around the world and improving the quality of life of those who have hearing loss.
Jim Patrick’s undergraduate and graduate education included training in physics, communications engineering, and biomedical engineering. His degrees include BSc, MSc, DEng, and CPEng(Biomed). He is also a fellow of Engineers (Australia) and a fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. Early in his career, Jim developed an interest in how electrical stimulation might be used to help people with hearing loss. It was at this stage that he joined Professor Graeme Clark’s research team at Melbourne University in 1975.
When the Australian government decided to support the commercial development of cochlear implants, Mr. Patrick transferred to the Cochlear company to work on the development of a clinically applicable cochlear implant. He was responsible for systems engineering and the digital aspects of the implantable stimulator, playing a key leadership role in the development of this new medical implant. Two important features of the instrument were a large number of electrodes (22) in the stimulator, and the use of pulsatile stimulation allowing for precise temporal interleaving of electrode stimulation thereby reducing inter-electrode interaction. These innovations allowed for the development of advanced signal-processing strategies for significant improvements in speech understanding.
Jim rose rapidly within the company, and he was given broader responsibilities, including managing Cochlear’s global research program, exploring how novel forms of signal processing can improve the performance of the cochlear implant, and how advances in biology and electro-neural interfaces can be applied to future implant designs.
Dr. Patrick has also been involved in several projects that seek to apply this technology in other medical bionic fields such as the
- Treatment of spinal cord injuries
- Use of an implanted stimulator to provide sensory feedback for people using artificial hands
- Use of an implanted stimulator to provide pacing vestibular stimulation to relieve Meniere’s symptoms
He retired from Cochlear at the end of December 2016, with a subsequent appointment as chief scientist emeritus.
During his 35 years as a leading researcher in the hearing health industry, Jim acquired a growing list of honors for his many substantial contributions in improving the efficacy of cochlear implants. Here is a brief listing of his many awards:
- 2007 “”Australia’s Most Influential Engineers”” for Engineering Expertise
- Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children – Jim Patrick Audiology Centre
- Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering – Engineering Icon for the cochlear implant
- Patrick Meeting Room at Australian Hearing Services
- Winner of the 2014 David Dewhurst Award for Biomedical Engineering
- Jim Patrick Meeting Room at Australian Hearing Hub
- ATSE Clunies Ross Lifetime Achievement Award for the application of science and technology for the benefit of Australia in 2015
- Order of Australia for distinguished service to science through the development of Cochlear implant technology, to biomedical research and engineering innovation, and to education and professional associations in 2015
These awards are tangible evidence of Jim’s industry-based, game-changing contributions to audiology. By this means, Jim has improved the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people with hearing loss. In short, James F. Patrick is a most worthy recipient of The Samuel F. Lybarger Award for Achievements in Industry.
Dr. Staab is an internationally recognized expert in the hearing health-care field and is a most deserving recipient of the American Academy of Audiology’s Samuel F. Lybarger Award for Achievements in Industry. He is president of Dr. Wayne J. Staab and Associates, a marketing, research, educational, publishing, manufacturing, and consulting organization. He is also a founding partner/editor of Hearing Health and Technology Matters, an International blog site for hearing. He specializes in hearing and hearing aid related issues.
Dr. Staab has a master’s degree in audiology and doctoral degree in hearing science. His career is focused around teaching and he has taught audiology-focused courses at the University of North Dakota, Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, Arizona State University, and Arizona School of Health Science. He has also managed and supervised university and hospital hearing clinical programs, both diagnostic and hearing aid-related. Dr. Staab has also been involved in the hearing aid manufacturing sector since 1972 in positions ranging from director of education at Telex Communications Incorporated, vice president of marketing at Audiotone, and corporate vice president at Dahlberg/Miracle Ear.
As a leading spokesperson within the hearing health-care profession, and considered an expert on hearing aids and devices that fit into the ear canal, Dr. Staab has lectured and written extensively on hearing-related topics and rehabilitation, within the United States and internationally. He has written in excess of 80 articles in professional and trade journals, given more than a thousand invited presentations, authored five books, and contributed chapters to 13 other major texts in audiology and hearing aids. He is co-owner and an editor of hearinghealthmatters.org, which is dedicated to hearing health and technology.
Dr. Staab continues to serve the hearing health-care profession through education, new product development, research, manufacturing, and marketing. His varied background allows him to intertwine the manufacturing and business with the science of acoustics to meet the specific needs of the hearing-impaired population. As a result, he is involved in programs that have brought many new innovations, applications, and products to use in the hearing industry.
Dr. Staab is an active and past member of numerous organizations relating to hearing and hearing aids. He is a past president and past executive director of the American Auditory Society; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; past editor of the Bulletin of the American Auditory Society; a past fellow of the International Collegium of Rehabilitative Audiology; a past fellow of the American Academy of Audiology, as well as other organizations. He continues to serve as a consultant to commercial businesses and corporations, including hearing aid manufacturing and hearing-related enterprises. He also serves as an expert on hearing to a wide range of local, state, medical-legal and national organizations, commissions, and the press. He has received numerous recognitions and awards for his work in hearing rehabilitation and continues to inspire the profession.
Since receiving his bachelor of science and master of science degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1971 and the electrical engineer professional degree from MIT in 1972, James M. Kates’s accomplishments as a research engineer in both industry and academia demonstrate his profound influence on the hearing aid industry. He has held positions at Siemens Hearing Instruments, AudioLogic, Cirrus Logic, and GN ReSound, developing and contributing to key advancements in digital hearing aids and advanced signal processing features. Most notable is his research into multiband compression and advanced feedback cancellation algorithms, features that almost every hearing aid in the world now uses. In 2012, after retiring from GN ReSound, Kates continued his work in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder as a scholar-in-residence and a professor of hearing engineering research practice. Most recently, he has turned his attention to developing objective metrics for predicting hearing aid sound quality and speech intelligibility and is recognized as one of the leading experts on sound quality and the development and testing of signal-processing algorithms to improve the quality of sound delivered through hearing aids.
Kates’s willingness to share his expertise with others is evident in much of his work. Whether teaching graduate courses in hearing aid signal-processing concepts, providing computer code so that others can implement, learn from, and use his methods, or capturing more than 40 years of knowledge in his textbook Digital Hearing Aids, his expertise has benefitted audiologists and engineers around the world. Indeed, most digital-signal-processing engineers working for hearing aid companies today have his book on their shelves.
Over his distinguished career, Kates has authored or coauthored more than 75 professional papers, trade journal articles, and book chapters and holds 26 U.S. patents. He is a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and of the Audio Engineering Society. His research and scholarly achievements and his service to the industry and audiology community make James M. Kates a most deserving recipient of this award.
In 1983, Mr. Cole founded Etymonic Design, manufacturer of Audioscan portable hearing aid analyzers, and has been president since then. The company developed the first digitally programmable in-the-ear hearing aid with a handheld programmer in 1985, the integrated circuit (IC) for the Telex Adaptive Compression circuit, and the first head-worn cochlear implant processor for the House Ear Institute. In 2001, the Audioscan Verifit was introduced as the first desktop hearing aid tester/real ear measurement system that utilized digitized speech signals instead of traditional tone and noise signals. The Verifit amplification test results could be compared directly to behavioral measures of hearing—the first “speech map” measurements on hearing aids that displayed gain and signal processing for speech at different input levels compared to the listener’s dynamic range. Included also in current Audioscan analyzers are tests for real-time directionality for adaptive directional hearing aids, noise reduction, feedback suppression, and a simulation of pediatric hearing aid fitting performance as predicted by the real-ear-to-coupler difference (RECD).
Prior to his Audioscan affiliation, Mr. Cole was a pioneer in low voltage, low current-drain hearing aid circuit design. While he was at Westinghouse, Canada, his designs included the first hearing aid ICs with compression and a high-performance push-pull output stage. Later, when the company essentially became LTI/Gennum, Mr. Cole designed several IC amplifiers that were widely used in millions of hearing aids. In the early 1970s, while at Unitron, Mr. Cole designed the first behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid with input compression and a directional BTE hearing aid that had a variable polar pattern that was adjusted by a moving slider.
Mr. Cole has been called an exceptional clinical scientist who happens to be an engineer. He has dedicated his career to excellence and innovation in the field of audiology, which has led to the implementation of user-friendly, clinically applicable solutions. Objective indices of speech intelligibility are now in the hands of clinicians. In 2007, a William A. Cole Award for Excellence in Audiology was established at Western University (previously known as the University of Western Ontario), at which Mr. Cole is an honorary professor of audiology.
Mr. Cole is also a prolific author, having written many articles on hearing and technology, as well as coauthoring chapters on hearing aids and their assessment in the last two editions of the Handbook of Clinical Audiology, edited by Jack Katz.
Mr. Cole has been very active in the development and harmonization of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) hearing aid-related performance measurement standards, a labor of love that often involves weekend work. He currently chairs both the Acoustical Society of America (ASA)/ANSI and IEC/ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards working groups on probe tube measurements of hearing aid performance and is an active member of both the ASA/ANSI and IEC working groups on hearing aid standards and the IEC working group on audiometer standards. In this capacity, Mr. Cole often contributes clear and logical reasoning to standards-development discussions and has shown a unique ability to achieve consensus among committee members having widely differing interests and opinions.
Curran has a masters of science degree in communicative disorders from the University of Wisconsin, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Audiology from 1991 to 1995 and a member of the Executive Committee of the American Auditory Society from 1989 to 1995. He has been membership chair for the American Academy of Audiology from 1993 to 1995, and a founding member of the Minnesota Academy of Audiology. He was one of the first audiologists to dispense hearing aids, opening his private practice dispensing office in 1967. He was also one of the first of a group of pioneering audiologists to be employed in the hearing aid industry, beginning in 1970 with the primary goal of educating and training hearing aid dispensing professionals.
Early on, Curran taught techniques for systematic hearing aid selection and fitting, as well as verification techniques for assessing the amount of hearing aid benefit. Since that time, it has become routine for all major hearing aid manufacturers to employ audiologists working in research, development, customer service and sales. Through the years, he has been a prolific author of numerous articles and textbook chapters about hearing aid technology. Curran has also given many presentations, seminars, workshops, and short courses about hearing aid technology at state, national and international meetings. Among his early interests was making known the benefits of open hearing aid fittings for reducing occlusion and shaping the frequency response to reduce low frequency noise. Open fittings are a significant percentage of hearing aid fittings today, but not all audiologists know that they have been utilized since the 1970s. Curran has written many early and seminal articles about various aspects of earmold acoustics and earmold modifications for fine-tuning hearing aid frequency responses. He has deep knowledge and perspective about the interrelationship of important historical events and technological advances in our field. To obtain an appreciation of the depth of the historical perspective that he commands, please see, as an example, his recent article in Innovations Magazine, vol. 1, #2, 2011.
For over 40 years, Curran has been a highly effective educator and an ambassador of good will for the hearing aid industry. He has been a fine example of the benefits an audiologist can provide to the industry, bringing deep experience and well-founded advice for younger audiologists and company executives. He is uniquely qualified to receive the Samuel F. Lybarger Award to acknowledge his many significant contributions to the hearing aid industry. Our congratulations to James R. Curran.
A true pioneer in audiology, Dr. Earl Harford’s efforts have helped shape the profession for the past 60 years. Dr. Harford is well known for his academic career that began at McGill University and then continued at Northwestern University where he originally served as a graduate assistant to Dr. James Jerger. Harford returned there in 1959 as a colleague. During his 17 years on the faculty, he taught, mentored, and published with Drs. Carhart and Jerger, Bill Rintelmann, Fred Bess, Joe Barry, Richard Wilson and many other historic and current leaders in the profession.
From Northwestern, Dr. Harford moved to Vanderbilt University where he became the director of the Wilkerson Center. After two years there, he was invited to join the staff of the University of Minnesota Medical School where he was the first audiologist in the state to openly dispense hearing aids.
His ingenuity prompted the evolution of the CROS and BICROS hearing aids. At the time of that invention, it was believed that persons with one normal ear had normal hearing. Dr. Harford was working with Dr. George Shambaugh who encouraged him to explore the idea of developing a hearing system to assist patients with unilateral hearing loss.
Dr. Harford was among the earliest researchers to introduce tympanometry, acoustic reflex measurements, and real-ear measurement in the United States. In fact, Dr. Harford has been referred to by his colleagues as the “father of real ear measurements.”
Following six years operating his own private practice, Dr. Harford joined Starkey Laboratories as Director of University Services. During his tenure at Starkey, he worked with Dave Preves on microphone technology for in situ measurements of the ear, where they completed over 8000 measurements in the early 1980s. This clinical experience proved that real-ear measurements had the potential to verify the performance of the relatively new ITE hearing aids being introduced at that time. This work led to the commercial development and introduction of real-ear measurements in the United States. While employed at Starkey, Dr. Harford originated and directed the Audiology Internship Program where more than 150 audiologists, many of whom became leaders in the profession, completed the program.
A prolific publisher and skillful teacher, Dr. Harford was one of the early advocates of the AuD degree. He delivered the Carhart Lecture at the combined meeting of the American Auditory Society and the American Academy of Audiology in 1993. It was there that he provided a rationale for an independent profession including the foundation for changing the existing model of master’s education to becoming a doctoring and autonomous profession.
Dr. Harford’s contributions to the profession and clinical research are well known and remain the foundation of many current clinical practices. He remains active today teaching classes on hearing loss in his retirement community; he continues to serve as a resource for Starkey Laboratories and Starkey Hearing Foundation; and, he serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council for Better Hearing. Dr. Harford currently lives in Colorado with his audiologist wife, Jennifer.
Dr. Elaine Saunders is a leader in the development of new technologies for cochlear implants and hearing aid. Her academic qualifications include a BS (Hon) in Chemical Physics and an MSc. in Clinical Audiology from the University of Manchester, U.K. After completing her PhD at the University of Southampton, she continued working in England as a clinical audiologist and lecturer in audiology until she moved to Australia in 1984 where she continued her career as a clinical and research audiologist.
In 1996, she became a project leader for commercialization of new hearing-related technologies at the Co-operative Research Center for Cochlear Implant and Hearing Aid Innovation, in Melbourne. As an example, Dr. Saunders was part of the team that developed and patented a shaped implantable cochlear implant electrode which was subsequently commercialized as the Nucleus® Contour ElectrodeTM. She has participated in the publication of several scientific articles regarding this device. Her most recent business responsibility was as the CEO and Director of Dynamic Hearing Pty (Australia) which develops sound processing and DSP technology for hearing aids and headsets. She has recently left this position and is now on the faculty of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.
Dr. Saunders is the co-author of a audiology textbook with one of her mentors, Dr. John Bamford. Their book is titled Hearing Impairment, Auditory Perception and Language Disability, published in its second edition by Whurr Publishers. She was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study pediatric audiology in selected U.S. audiology centers. In 2008, she was awarded the Outstanding Service Award by Audiology Australia. In 2003, she shared a Commercialization Award with Cochlear Pty. for the commercialization of ADRO, which is now used in some hearing aids and cochlear implants. In 2004, Dr. Saunders was awarded the Government and Corporate Sector National Telstra Business Woman of the Year. Under her leadership, Dynamic Hearing has become a worldwide leader in digital signal processing applications for hearing instruments and head-sets which provide improved speech recognition to users of these devices around the world.
Dr. Elaine Saunders exemplifies this award with her outstanding career and she is a well deserving recipient.
Dr. David Preves has followed in Sam Lybarger’s footsteps as one of the great industry leaders. His contributions to the profession of audiology and the hearing aid industry are legion. Of special importance are the innovations he has brought to hearing aid design. He performed pioneering work in directional microphones, integrated circuits, and feedback management. His writings include more than 500 reports, published articles, and patent teachings. In addition to his many engineering contributions, Dr. Preves’ long-term service as chair of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Working Group on Hearing Aids has had a significant impact on the quality, reliability, and utility of hearing aid measurements. This challenging task requires the skills of an expert in acoustics, psychoacoustics, signal processing, and solid state electronics, as well the social skills to deftly manage a committee with divergent interests. Dr. Preves took over this role from Sam Lybarger himself. For over two decades, he has successfully mediated the differing needs of a globalized, rapidly changing hearing aid industry, the hearing aid dispensing community, consumers and regulators. He continues to play a pivotal role in producing standards on which the industry depends, and he represents the United States in international meetings with the IEC and ISO. Currently, Dr. Preves is a DSP Research Engineer at Starkey Laboratories.
Dr. Singh holds two doctoral degrees, one patent, and one trademark; has been on the faculty of four universities; has published over 50 scientific articles and eight books; and last year founded his third publishing company. His first publishing company, College Hill Press, was started in a garage behind his house while he was on faculty at University of Texas Health Science Center. Under his direction, 250 different titles in the area of speech and hearing were published. Ten years after founding College Hill Press (and later selling it) he founded his second publishing company, Singular Publishing and oversaw the publication of over 350 titles and seven journals. He has just entered the publishing world again with his third publishing company, Plural Publishing, but not before developing a literature search program (ContentScan) for the internet. Dr. Singh’s name is synonymous with publishing many books used by students and clinicians alike. He understood the need to share the knowledge held by many. Through his encouragement to academicians, researchers and practitioners, he created a forum to share their knowledge with others. Dr. Singh has created a library within and outside our profession for all to share.