UNC Audiology Student Earns $5,000 Student Research Award

Pictured from left to right: Vishahka Rawool, president of the NHCA Foundation; Beth Cooper, president of the NHCA; Alyssa Lerner, UNC graduate student; Deanna Meinke, UNC professor and research adviser.

The National Hearing Conservation Foundation awarded University of Northern Colorado graduate student Alyssa Lerner a $5,000 Student Research Award.

Lerner, a second-year graduate student studying Audiology, received the award during the National Hearing Conservation Association's annual conference March 13-15 in Las Vegas, Nev. The award is designed to assist student research studies, such as special projects, theses or dissertations relating to hearing loss prevention and hearing conservation.

"This is a highly competitive scholarship and included competition from Ph.D. students from other disciplines and universities; both nationally and internationally," said UNC Professor of Audiology and research adviser Deanna Meinke, who also co-directs Dangerous Decibels, an award-winning public health campaign to reduce the incidence and prevalence of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.

Lerner is researching how ear impressions taken in open and closed jaw positions affect noise reduction in custom-fit hearing protection devices for individuals. Lerner will return to the association's meeting in 2015 to present her findings.

"I am truly honored that I was chosen to receive this competitive research award and I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity to present my research at 2015 NHCA meeting," Lerner said. "I could not have accomplished this without the support of my research advisor, Dr. Meinke, and I am so thankful that I have had such an extraordinary mentor throughout this process."

As a graduate assistant in the Audiology and Speech-Language Sciences program, Lerner coordinates and performs hearing screenings for the Weld County Headstart program. She also assists the mobile occupational hearing testing services. She's a certified educator of Dangerous Decibels.

In addition, she is actively engaged in community outreach efforts using educational mannequins that are equipped with sound-level meters to measure the sound-pressure levels produced by personal music players. The mannequins educate kids about the often-overlooked topic of noise-induced hearing loss and the long-term effects that can come from too much time with the volume up too high on personal music players.