James Madison University

Ruth Symposium in Audiology and Hearing Sciences Held

By: Lori News
Posted: October 31, 2014

PHOTO: Ruth Symposium

View more photos from the event

This year marks the fifth-annual JMU Ruth Symposium for Audiology and Hearing Sciences sponsored by the Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders. This two-day event is an educational conference hosted by professionals to discuss and learn about contemporary issues involved in the identification, diagnosis and management of hearing and balance disorders as well as the discussion of new technologies.

The symposium is a way to honor Dr. Roger Ruth, JMU faculty member and audiologist researcher who passed away in 2009. On October 17 and 18, students, faculty, professionals and invited guests had the opportunity to hear lectures from acclaimed researchers from all over the country.

This year’s symposium was a huge success with over a hundred people attending thanks to student coordinators, Aly McGrath and Ali Bove. McGrath and Bove are audiology graduate students and were responsible for planning the majority of the event. Starting a year in advance, they were in contact with the guest speakers, in charge of the production and distribution of marketing materials and took on other various tasks.

Dr. Brenda Ryals, a professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders for over 20 years, and a significant planning figure of the symposium, was responsible for inviting the speakers.

“I try to get a good mix of speakers, so we try to have people from the industry to talk about hearing aids and amplification, as well as people who are doing clinical research and those who are doing more basic research which will inform future clinical practice,” Ryals explains.

To kick off the symposium, there were presentations from nine hearing technology companies to represent hearing aids, cochlear implants and new testing and diagnostic devices. They shared news about their products and discussed the future of hearing technology.

The keynote speaker this year was Dr. Andrew Oxenham from the University of Minnesota. His presentations’ topics included pitch perception in normal, impaired and electric hearing and the role of temporal fine structure in acoustic and electric hearing.

Other invited speakers included John Nelson, the Vice President for Audiology Global Relations at GN ReSound, who spoke about wireless hearing aid systems. Dr. Carmen Brewer, Chief of the Audiology Unit in the Division of Intramural Research at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the National Institutes of Health, spoke about the rare audiological diseases in patients.

“The variety of speakers were great,” Ali Bove, student co-coordinator said.
Ryals believes this event is very beneficial for students interested in the audiology and hearing sciences field.

“For students it’s great because I think it is right on par with national symposiums, the level of speakers is as good and this is a great place for students to present their dissertation work,” Ryals said.

This year four doctoral students were awarded the Roger Ruth Memorial Student Research Award for their upcoming dissertation research. Four other Au.D. students also had the opportunity to present their dissertation posters and answer questions about their specific research topic.

As the symposium continues to be a great success, students, faculty and practicing audiologists can stay up to date with new technologies and provide the best patient care and practices.

As Ryals explained, “We are the only audiology training program in the state, so I feel both obliged and pleased to be able to provide continuing education to practicing clinicians and students.”