For five decades, Laura Ann Wilber, PhD, has contributed to every aspect of the profession of audiology. Her early research, begun at Northwestern University with Raymond Carhart, built on the developing scientific foundation of our fledgling discipline. At the time, standards and procedures in diagnostic audiology were just being developed, borrowing from older disciplines like acoustics and psychophysics. Dr. Wilbur was one of the first to apply this knowledge to the clinical evaluation of hearing. Her background as a teacher of the hearing impaired and speech pathologist provided a clinical perspective that guided her work toward relevant issues.
Upon completion of her doctoral work, Dr. Wilber held faculty positions at UCLA, Albert Einstein School of Medicine, and Northwestern University; and adjunct and visiting appointments at many more universities. She has held certification as a teacher of the hearing impaired, speech pathologist, audiologist, and an occupational hearing conservation program instructor.
Perhaps even more important than her published scientific contributions, Dr. Wilber represented our profession to agencies that have significant influence over our profession. These include professional organizations (AAA, ASHA, ASA, AAS, ISA, ARA, AAO and many state and local organizations), standards organizations (ANSI, ISO), government agencies (NIH, Illinois Department of Public Health), and professional boards (NBME, ABESPA). This work continues in what she inaccurately calls retirement. Her participation in these organizations has contributed enormously to our profession by representing the field as one solidly founded in science and committed to providing the highest level of education for our students and care of our patients.
Among these activities with external agencies, Dr. Wilber’s contributions to U.S. and international standards deserves special mention. She has served on writing groups pertaining to standards governing audiometry, acoustic immittance, loudness scaling, and noise measurement. This is important and often thankless work. She has always recognized the critical need to get these standards right, for the benefit of the public in general and the hearing-impaired in particular.
Dr. Wilber has taught audiology at 10 universities. Because of her solid foundation in the science of our field, her understanding of clinical issues, and her clear and well-organized approach to communicating to students, her teaching contributions have touched countless students over the course of her career.
The profession of audiology is better for having the pioneering and sustaining efforts of Dr. Laura Ann Wilber. The Academy’s Distinguished Achievement Award is a well-earned acknowledgement of her significant contributions.