For release: April 18, 2011
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901-678-2843
Dr. Robyn Cox, a professor of audiology in the School of Communication Sciences and
Disorders at the University of Memphis, has been awarded a grant from the National
Institutes of Health for $1.5 million over a five-year period. Her research will
compare the effectiveness of basic features and premium features in hearing aids used
by older adults, and examine the benefits of using hearing aids at different technology
levels and price points.
Dr. Robyn Cox
Cox said of her research, “We want to know more about when it is worthwhile to spend
what is needed to obtain hearing aids that are technologically advanced, versus when
that level of technology is not really needed by a particular individual.
“Practitioners and patients really want to know this, but there is very little independent
research they can refer to.”
Cox said she will recruit people from throughout the community who will use hearing
aids in the School’s laboratory, as well as in their daily lives. She and her colleagues
will measure the users’ performance with different hearing aids, and they will seek
the users’ opinions of the devices they use.
“In the end,” she said, “we hope to be able to offer guidelines to hearing-impaired
adults, and to practitioners who fit hearing aids, to help them choose the best technology
for each individual.”
Dr. Maurice Mendel, dean of the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, said
Dr. Cox is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities in the use and fitting
of hearing aids. “She has a very long and successful record of obtaining external
funding to support her research into ways that hearing aids can best be fit and into
ways that people can derive maximum benefit from the hearing aids they purchase” Mendel
said. “It is wonderful that the NIH has chosen to continue to support her pioneering
research. Her success serves as an inspiration to all our faculty.
Cox will be assisted in her research by graduate students Jani Johnson and Jingjing
Xu. Johnson, a native of Brewton, Ala., received a clinical doctorate in audiology
from the U of M in 2007. She is now studying for her Ph.D. degree in communication
sciences and disorders, with a research focus in audiology and hearing sciences, which
she will receive in August 2011.
Xu is also a doctoral candidate seeking the same degree, with the same emphasis; he
will graduate in May 2012. A native of Guangxi Province in China, he holds a degree
in civil engineering from China and a master’s degree in acoustical engineering from
Both graduate students will work with Cox in such aspects of the research as recruiting
participants, setting up equipment, collecting and managing data, and analyzing the
Xu said he expects the experience to be invaluable to him in learning how to conduct
his own research in the future. Johnson said she believes the experience will help
shape her future career path in an academic setting, where she will teach and conduct
Cox has taught at the University of Memphis since 1977. She has also worked in the
field with Indiana University, the University of South Alabama, and the City University
of New York. She holds a doctorate in audiology from Indiana University in Bloomington
and her bachelor of science degree in speech and hearing and her master of science
degree in audiology and psychology from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.
She also has a diploma in speech therapy from the University of Queensland in St.
She has received the highest faculty honor awarded by the University of Memphis, the
Willard Sparks Eminent Faculty Award, along with several awards for her research at
the U of M. The American Academy of Audiology has also recognized her for her research,
and she is a Fellow in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She has
published widely in refereed journals and other publications in her field.