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UNC Faculty Member Receives Prestigious Award for Audiology Research

April 1, 2022

The American Academy of Audiology (AAA) recently granted UNC Professor Deanna Meinke, Ph.D., the 2022 Jerger Career Award for Research in Audiology.

The Jerger award recognizes individuals whose innovative research contributions in the field of audiology/hearing and balance sciences has had groundbreaking impacts on the field and/or practice of audiology. As described on the AAA website, Meinke’s research “has been innovative and influential, and she is known for her seminal contributions to the field of hearing loss prevention.”

"I am humbled and honored to be selected for this award from my peers and colleagues,” said Meinke. “My name will be listed among others whose research I read as a young student and relied upon for my clinical practice and academic teaching. It is hard to imagine that I am recognized amongst such distinguished company.”

Meinke has had a long and illustrious career working in the field of audiology. She began her work as a clinical and occupational audiologist before she became a researcher in academia. 

“Receipt of this award reinforces my decision to pursue research later in life and demonstrates that becoming a researcher does not have to be a linear path from undergrad to a Ph.D. If anything, my professional work as an audiologist informs my research and has contributed to my successes,” Meinke says. 

A further reflection of her research contributions, Meinke was also selected as UNC’s A.M. and Jo Winchester Scholar in 2018, an award that recognizes demonstrated continued excellence in scholarly activity at the university. She has authored several book chapters, government publications and peer-reviewed articles and has received numerous accolades throughout her career in recognition of her work.  

Much of her research has centered around hearing loss prevention. Meinke is the co-director of the Dangerous Decibels program, which is dedicated to preventing noise-induced hearing loss through research and education. She is past-president of the National Hearing Conservation Association and is an expert consultant to the World Health Organization’s Make Listening Safe initiative, which portrays her dedication to the profession and public health.  

“Audiology is a profession primarily focused on the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss, not prevention. Receiving this award means that applied research in hearing loss prevention has been acknowledged as a respected research track worthy of recognition within the field of audiology,” said Meinke. “It means that audiology has an important role to play in public health.” 

Meinke is currently working on two research projects, each of which is focused on the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) prevention. One of these projects, titled, “STEM game to educate and promote hearing health and science for 4th to 7th grade,” involves the development of a STEM-based computer game intended to be used in and out of the classroom to educate young students on the science of hearing and how they can maintain their hearing health. The other is to develop new wireless hearing testing technology that can be integrated into telehealth. 

“I hope that the award will further support my efforts to obtain external research grant funding and mentor other early-career UNC faculty in their research endeavors. I am also hopeful that the award will illustrate and motivate my undergraduate and graduate students to consider research as an outgrowth of their professional clinical experience in the future,” said Meinke. 

Meinke was presented with the award at the AAA Honors and Award Dinner on March 31 in St. Louis, Mo. 

According to their website, the AAA serves as the collective voice of audiology and is committed to advancing the science, practice and accessibility of hearing and balance health care. 

- written by Alani Casiano, a junior English major at UNC

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