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Member Spotlight

The ARO External Relations Committee wants to highlight our members! They request that you share a little bit about yourself in the survey linked below so we can post on ARO social media platforms highlighting you & your work!

You must log in to your ARO member profile to complete the survey. This survey should take approximately 5 minutes. 

MEMBER SPOTLIGHTS

Dr. Lina Reiss Ph.D.

Dr. Lina Reiss Ph.D.

Oregon Health and Science University

How long have you been an ARO member?

Since 1998 - 24 years.

What do you enjoy most about being an ARO member?

The annual conference, and the inclusive community.The annual conference is always rewarding in the scientific content as well as connections made with colleagues.I also appreciate that ARO leadership is pro-active and at the forefront of promoting equity and inclusion.

Where has your favorite MidWinter Meeting (MWM) been?

St. Pete's Beach was my favorite. I also liked Denver, San Diego, and Baltimore.

Share one memorable experience from a past ARO MWM.

My first ARO as a graduate student, as well as first HI-ARO dinner in 1998. The HI-ARO dinner was with TIlak Ratnanather, Peter Steyger, Rob Raphael, Henry Adler, and his two sign language interpreters, at the Japanese steakhouse at St. Pete's beach. I also remember the ARO poster session which was outdoors-ish in a big tent behind the hotel, and walks along the beach with other students and postdocs from Eric Young's and Brad May's labs.

Tell us about your work, with a focus on research efforts.

I do research in two areas, auditory perception and cochlear implants. I work with both humans and animal models. My current focus in auditory perception is binaural fusion and binaural spectral integration, and how abnormal binaural fusion and integration with hearing loss affects the ability to segregate sounds, especially for speech perception in noise. With cochlear implants, my current focus is on how auditory nerve function changes over time after surgery and with electric stimulation, and how this affects speech perception outcomes.

Aside from research, what other activities do you participate in?

As a member of HI-ARO and BIPOC-CSD, I am involved in advocacy, outreach, and mentoring for those with hearing loss and who are BIPOC.In my free time, I enjoy reading novels, puzzles, swimming, and outdoor activities with my family and two dogs.

Dr. Hongzhe Li, Ph.D.

Dr. Hongzhe Li, Ph.D.

VA Loma Linda Healthcare System

How long have you been an ARO member?

I've been an ARO member since 2001, halfway upon my PhD training in auditory physiology, though later during that decade, I was academically exposed to radiation oncology and molecular immunology, thus briefly away from ARO for 3-4 years.

What do you enjoy most about being an ARO member?

Remain connected to the auditory research enthusiastic cohort, and stay current by getting first-hand understanding of the ongoing research focus in the field.

Where has your favorite MidWinter Meeting (MWM) been?

Probably the 2010 Anaheim meeting, my daughter was born shortly after that meeting.

Share one memorable experience from a past ARO MWM.

Interestingly, the due dates of both my daughters fell into the time frame of ARO MWM meetings, but both of them managed to come outside the time windows, allowing me attending both meetings, with one after the meeting and the other before the meeting.

Tell us about your work, with a focus on research efforts.

My research is primarily focused on inner ear protection, damage and repair, from a variety of ototoxic insults, including but not limited to noise, aminoglycoside antibiotics and antineoplastic cisplatin.Confounding factors such as age, genetic variation, implants, and disease conditions are considered. In particular, I am interested in the intracochlear trafficking routes/mechanisms of ototoxicants under normal and pathological conditions.

Aside from research, what other activities do you participate in?

Probably long-distance running, these days.

Dr. Jagmeet Kanwal, Ph.D.

Dr. Jagmeet Kanwal, Ph.D.

Associate Professor at Georgetown University

How long have you been an ARO member?

On and off for over 30 years.

Where has your favorite MidWinter Meeting (MWM) been?

Saint Petersburg Beach, Florida.

Share one memorable experience from a past ARO MWM.

Eating smoked salmon for lunch followed by sushi for dinner with colleagues and famous scientists.

Tell us about your work, with a focus on research efforts.

My research has focused on understanding the neural mechanisms for encoding and decoding of social communication sounds in bats. This involves neural recordings from the auditory and frontal cortex and the amygdala. My current work is focused on understanding attentional mechanisms using zebrafish as model organisms.

Aside from research, what other activities do you participate in?

Grant proposal and manuscript reviews. I have served on the ARO diversity committee and also teach about the auditory system to graduate and medical students.

Dr. Christopher Plack, Prof.

Dr. Christopher Plack, Prof.

Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness, University of Manchester, Manchester UK

How long have you been an ARO member?
I honestly can't remember! 25 years?

What do you enjoy most about being an ARO member?              
Discussing science at the MWM

Where has your favorite MidWinter Meeting (MWM) been?     
St. Pete's Beach

Tell us about your work, with a focus on research efforts.
I research the physiological bases of normal and impaired human hearing. My current interests include the effects of noise exposure, age, diabetes, and dementia on hearing, with a focus on sub-clinical deficits that are not revealed by conventional audiometry.

Aside from research, what other activities do you participate in?
I teach at undergraduate and post-graduate level. In my private life, I play acoustic and electric guitar, and enjoy walking and climbing.

 

Dr. Geoffrey Manley, M.A., Ph.D.

Dr. Geoffrey Manley, M.A., Ph.D.

Retired, Oldenburg University

How long have you been an ARO member?
Not sure, but the oldest abstract I still have is from 1987...

What do you enjoy most about being an ARO member?
Single meeting bringing virtually all colleagues together.

Where has your favorite MidWinter Meeting (MWM) been?
St. Petersburg Beach.

Share one memorable experience from a past ARO MWM.
My acceptance of the 2016 ARO award.

Tell us about your work, with a focus on research efforts.
I no longer have my own lab, so I cooperate with others to continue my work on otoacoustic emissions. That currently mostly involves the study of unusual mammals, including humans. I still maintain an interest in non-mammals, however, and have recently published further work, particularly on lizard emissions, e.g., a review of otoacoustic emissions in non-mammals (doi:10.3390/audiolres12030027).

Aside from research, what other activities do you participate in?
Events at the University of Oldenburg, including of the consortium "Hearing for All".

 

Dr. Joel Snyder, Ph.D.

Dr. Joel Snyder, Ph.D.

Professor University of Nevada Las Vegas

How long have you been an ARO member?

I've been a member for probably about 15 years, since I was a post-doc. I joined when I was getting into auditory scene analysis research because somehow I found out about all the great researchers in that area who were attending ARO.

What do you enjoy most about being an ARO member?

The conferences are amazing, especially the poster sessions. It's remarkable how a lot of members really engage you at your poster, and I before ARO I really didn't get that experience at other conferences.

Where has your favorite MidWinter Meeting (MWM) been?

I really liked ARO in Baltimore, mostly because of the amazing seafood and the Belgian beer bar near the conference venue.

Tell us about your work, with a focus on research efforts.

My lab uses behavioral and event-related brain potential (ERP) measures of auditory perception and cognition, with special interests in auditory scene perception and music perception. Projects that recently wrapped up were on identifying neural mechanisms of bistable auditory perception and understanding the development and neural correlates of musical beat perception. Right now I’m focused on several things: 1) mentoring NDSEG fellow Maggie McMullin who’s creating and acoustically analyzing natural auditory scene recordings and beginning to do behavioral and ERP experiments with the scenes to understand how we perceive objects in their natural settings and more global aspects of our acoustic surroundings, 2) working with Colleen Parks at UNLV using computational and ERP measures to understand why visual long-term memory is so much better than auditory long-term memory, 3) working with my colleagues Erin Hannon, Stephen Benning, and Solena Mednicoff on a foundation-funded project at UNLV to study how misophonia develops and how it’s related to other auditory emotional experiences like ASMR and musical chills. I’m also working with colleagues at UNLV on a non-auditory study funded by the Defense Department to use visual ERPs and eye-tracking to understand how amputees process videos of other amputees performing movements that they are trying to learn to make with their new prosthetic limbs. As you can see, I’m very fortunate to have amazing colleagues and trainees at UNLV, and it is a complete thrill to get to help so many different kinds of research projects get done. Now that I’ve been around a few years, I’m also amazed at the accomplishments of former trainees who have moved on to new post-doctoral and faculty positions positions. I can’t help but shout out a few them, like Melissa Gregg, Christina Vanden Bosch der Nederlanden, Nathan Higgins, and Brian Metzger who are now Assistant Professors, and Karli Nave and Samantha O’Connell who are now post-doctoral fellows. I’ve also been amazed with other former trainees like David Little, Vanessa Irsik, and Jessica Nave-Blodgett, who have seamlessly moved into the private sector, a move that would frankly scare the heck out of me if I were to try it. I don’t know what else I’ll get into in the future, but I’m pretty sure it will be a lot of fun discovering new things and helping younger scientists accomplish their career goals!

Aside from research, what other activities do you participate in?

I bake sourdough pretty much every weekend, and have been doing that for about 7 years. I also play basketball, and started lifting weights a few years ago. I live a pretty simple life, and highly encourage people to find joys outside of science to stay balanced and busy (but not too busy).

Dr. Elizabeth Olson, Ph.D.

Dr. Elizabeth Olson, Ph.D.

Columbia University, OTO/HNS and Biomedical Eng., Fowler Memorial Lab, NYC -- 2022 ARO President

How long have you been an ARO member?
I joined in about 1988, so about 34 years.

What do you enjoy most about being an ARO member?
The ARO conference and the terrific involvement of the ARO members in ARO.  I also like how international the membership is, and the combination of clinical and basic science that is presented at the meeting.

Where has your favorite MidWinter Meeting (MWM) been?
Tradewinds!  But I also did liked Baltimore because the travel was easy for me.  And San Diego was a great spot.  Looking forward to getting back to Florida this year -- I love hitting the Florida warmth in February, coming from the northeast.

Share one memorable experience from a past ARO MWM.
Going swimming in the rather chilly Atlantic with Heidi Nakajima and Mike Ravicz.   On the research side, I remember years ago coming down to my poster one morning and seeing that there was a chair set up so someone could sit and read the poster, I guess from the previous evening.  That was a very gratifying moment.  The posters at ARO have always been a feature of the meeting.

Tell us about your work, with a focus on research efforts.
I work mainly on understanding how the cochlear amplifier functions as a whole.  We know (or think we know) the pieces that go into producing the enhanced motion and tuning in the healthy cochlea.  However, how these pieces fit together to do the job is still a puzzle.  Now we have new tools to observe many more of the intra-organ motions than just a few years ago and that is exciting but with new observations come new puzzles.  It is exciting.  I'm also working on a totally implantable microphone with super smart and productive students and collaborators from MIT and MEEI, who are really moving that project forward.  In my lab we are currently working on how to adapt the microphone for a large animal trial.

Aside from research, what other activities do you participate in?
I garden at my apartment building, which has extensive green space.   I volunteer tutor in middle school math.  I serve as a Hearing Research section editor, and currently am president of ARO.  I like to bike around NYC with a friend, and walk my dog, go to museums and parks.  I pastel paint, mainly when I'm on vacation in Maine.  My three sons are adults but they still come to Maine for a week in August.

 

Hearing loss can significantly disrupt the ability of children to become mainstreamed in educational environments that emphasize spoken language as a primary means of communication. Similarly, adults who lose their hearing after communicating using spoken language have numerous challenges understanding speech and integrating into social situations. These challenges are particularly significant in noisy situations, where multiple sound sources often arrive at the ears from various directions. Intervention with hearing aids and/or cochlear implants (CIs) has proven to be highly successful for restoring some aspects of communication, including speech understanding and language acquisition. However, there is also typically a notable gap in outcomes relative to normal-hearing listeners. Importantly, auditory abilities operate in the context of how hearing integrates with other senses. Notably, the visual system is tightly couples to the auditory system. Vision is known to impact auditory perception and neural mechanisms in vision and audition are tightly coupled, thus, in order to understand how we hear and how CIs affect auditory perception we must consider the integrative effects across these senses.

We start with Rebecca Alexander, a compelling public speaker who has been living with Usher’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder found in tens of thousands of people, causing both deafness and blindness in humans. Ms. Alexander will be introduced by Dr. Jeffrey Holt, who studies gene therapy strategies for hearing restoration. The symposium then highlights the work of scientists working across these areas. Here we integrate psychophysics, clinical research, and biological approaches, aiming to gain a coherent understanding of how we might ultimately improve outcomes in patients. Drs. Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik are new to the ARO community, and will discuss neurobiology of the visual system as it relates to visual prostheses. Dr. Jennifer Groh’s work will then discuss multi-sensory processing and how it is that vision helps us hear. Having set the stage for thinking about the role of vision in a multisensory auditory world, we will hear from experts in the area of cochlear implants. Dr. René H Gifford will discuss recent work on electric-acoustic integration in children and adults, and Dr. Sharon Cushing will discuss her work as a clinician on 3-D auditory and vestibular effects. Dr. Matthew Winn will talk about cognitive load and listening effort using pupillometry, and we will end with Dr. Rob Shepherd’s discussion of current work and future possibilities involving biological treatments and neural prostheses. Together, these presentations are designed to provide a broad and interdisciplinary view of the impact of sensory restoration in hearing, vision and balance, and the potential for future approaches for improving the lives of patients.

Kirupa Suthakar, PhD - Dr Kirupa Suthakar is a postdoctoral fellow at NIH/NIDCD, having formerly trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School and doctoral student at Garvan Institute of Medical Research/UNSW Australia.  Kirupa's interest in the mind and particular fascination by how we are able to perceive the world around us led her to pursue a research career in auditory neuroscience.  To date, Kirupa's research has broadly focused on neurons within the auditory efferent circuit, which allow the brain to modulate incoming sound signals at the ear.  Kirupa is active member of the spARO community, serving as the Chair Elect for 2021.

 

 

I began studying the vestibular system during my dissertation research at the Università di Pavia with Professors Ivo Prigioni and GianCarlo Russo. I had two postdoctoral fellowships, first at the University of Rochester with Professor Christopher Holt and then at the University of Illinois at Chicago with Professors Jonathan Art and Jay Goldberg.

My research focuses on characterizing the biophysics of synaptic transmission between hair cells and primary afferents in the vestibular system. For many years an outstanding question in vestibular physiology was how the transduction current in the type I hair cell was sufficient, in the face of large conductances on at rest, to depolarize it to potentials necessary for conventional synaptic transmission with its unique afferent calyx.

In collaboration with Dr. Art, I overcame the technical challenges of simultaneously recording from type I hair cells and their enveloping calyx afferent to investigate this question. I was able to show that with depolarization of either hair cell or afferent, potassium ions accumulating in the cleft depolarize the synaptic partner. Conclusions from these studies are that due to the extended apposition between type I hair cell and its afferent, there are three modes of communication across the synapse. The slowest mode of transmission reflects the dynamic changes in potassium ion concentration in the cleft which follow the integral of the ongoing hair cell transduction current. The intermediate mode of transmission is indirectly a result of this potassium elevation which serves as the mechanism by which the hair cell potential is depolarized to levels necessary for calcium influx and the vesicle fusion typical of glutamatergic quanta. This increase in potassium concentration also depolarizes the afferent to potentials that allow the quantal EPSPs to trigger action potentials. The third and most rapid mode of transmission like the slow mode of transmission is bidirectional, and a current flowing out of either hair cell or afferent into the synaptic cleft will divide between a fraction flowing out into the bath, and a fraction flowing across the cleft into its synaptic partner.

The technical achievement of the dual electrode approach has enabled us to identify new facets of vestibular end organ synaptic physiology that in turn raise new questions and challenges for our field. I look forward with great excitement to the next chapter in my scientific story.

 

Charles C. Della Santina, PhD MD is a Professor of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery and Biomedical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he directs the Johns Hopkins Cochlear Implant Center and the Johns Hopkins Vestibular NeuroEngineering Laboratory.

As a practicing neurotologic surgeon, Dr. Della Santina specializes in treatment of middle ear, inner ear and auditory/vestibular nerve disorders. His clinical interests include restoration of hearing via cochlear implantation and management of patients who suffer from vestibular disorders, with a particular focus on helping individuals disabled by chronic postural instability and unsteady vision after bilateral loss of vestibular sensation. His laboratory’s research centers on basic and applied research supporting development of vestibular implants, which are medical devices intended to partially restore inner ear sensation of head movement. In addition to that work, his >90 publications include studies characterizing inner ear physiology and anatomy; describing novel clinical tests of vestibular function; and clarifying the effects of cochlear implantation, vestibular implantation, superior canal dehiscence syndrome and intratympanic gentamicin therapy on the inner ear and central nervous system.  Dr. Della Santina is also the founder and CEO/Chief Scientific Officer of Labyrinth Devices LLC, a company dedicated to bringing novel vestibular testing and implant technology into routine clinical care.

Andrew Griffith received his MD and PhD in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University in 1992. He completed his general surgery internship and a residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Michigan in 1998. He also completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Department of Human Genetics as part of his training at the University of Michigan. In 1998, he joined the Division of Intramural Research (DIR) in the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). He served as a senior investigator, the chief of the Molecular Biology and Genetics Section, the chief of the Otolaryngology Branch, and the director of the DIR, as well as the deputy director for Intramural Clinical Research across the NIH Intramural Research Program. His research program identifies and characterizes molecular and cellular mechanisms of normal and disordered hearing and balance in humans and mouse models. Two primary interests of his program have been hearing loss associated with enlargement of the vestibular aqueduct, and the function of TMC genes and proteins. The latter work lead to the discovery that the deafness gene product TMC1 is a component of the hair cell sensory transduction channel. Since July of 2020, he has served as the Senior Associate Dean of Research and a Professor of Otolaryngology and Physiology in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Gwenaëlle S. G. Géléoc obtained a PhD in Sensory Neurobiology from the University of Sciences in Montpellier (France) in 1996. She performed part of her PhD training at the University of Sussex, UK where she characterized sensory transduction in vestibular hair cells and a performed a comparative study between vestibular and cochlear hair cells. Gwenaelle continued her training as an electrophysiologist at University College London studying outer hair cell motility and at Harvard Medical School studying modulation of mechanotransduction in vestibular hair cells. As an independent investigator at the University of Virginia, she expanded this work and characterized the developmental acquisition of sensory transduction in mouse vestibular hair cells, the developmental acquisition of voltage-sensitive conductances in vestibular hair cells and the tonotopic gradient in the acquisition of sensory transduction in the mouse cochlea. This work along with quantitative spatio-temporal studies performed on several hair cell mechanotransduction candidates lead her to TMC1 and 2 and long-term collaborations with Andrew Griffith and Jeff Holt. Dr. Géléoc is currently Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, at Boston Children’s Hospital where she continues to study molecular players involved in the development and function of hair cells of the inner ear and develops new therapies for the treatment of deafness and balance, with a particular focus on Usher syndrome.

Jeff Holt earned a doctorate from the Department of Physiology at the University of Rochester in 1995 for his studies of inward rectifier potassium channels in saccular hair cells.  He went on to a post-doctoral position in the Neurobiology Department at Harvard Medical School and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where he characterized sensory transduction and adaptation in hair cells and developed a viral vector system to transfect cultured hair cells.  Dr. Holt’s first faculty position was in the Neuroscience Department at the University of Virginia.  In 2011 the lab moved to Boston Children’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Holt is currently a Professor in the Departments of Otolaryngology and Neurology in the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center.  Dr. Holt and his team have been studying sensory transduction in auditory and vestibular hair cells over the past 20 years, with particular focus on TMC1 and TMC2 over the past 12 years.  This work lead to the discovery that TMC1 forms the hair cell transduction channel.  His work also focuses on development gene therapy strategies for genetic hearing loss.