Susan Scollie Awarded 2018 AAA Marion Downs Award

Scollie Wolfe

Dr. Susan Scollie and Dr. Jace Wolfe

The American Academy of Audiology held its annual conference in Nashville this year, welcoming thousands to Music City for continuing education, exposition, and its annual Awards and Honors Banquet. Each year, the Academy honors individuals for their unique contributions to the profession in a range of categories including humanitarianism, education, research, and pediatrics. This year’s ceremony awarded Susan Scollie, PhD the Marion Downs Award for her significant contributions to pediatric audiology.

Scollie was nominated by Dr. Jace Wolfe, Director of Audiology and Research at Hearts for Hearing in Oklahoma. His nomination focused on her contributions in hearing aid prescription, verification of hearing aids with advanced signal processing, bone conduction hearing aids, and protocols for the application of these through collaboration with clinicians, programs, and industry. Dr. Wolfe attests to the impacts of Scollie’s work in his nomination letter: “I can personally attest that Oklahoma children with hearing loss have benefitted from the fact that Dr. Scollie’s contributions and publications have shaped clinical care in our region. I can also say that I and other professionals around the world continually look to Dr. Scollie and her team for guidance in the provision of modern, evidence-based practice for infants and children with hearing loss.”

Marion Downs was widely regarded as a founder of pediatric audiology, and also as an inspiring and active role model. The Academy initiated an award in her honour in 2016, with awards given to both Anne-Marie Tharpe (2016) and Jane Madell (2017). In her acceptance speech, Scollie highlighted a recently-produced biography that tells the story of Marion Downs’ life, including her unexpected entry into the world of pediatric audiology (view the video here: http://www.cogreatwomen.org/project/marion-downs/). Reflecting on her own journey to pediatric audiology, Scollie thanked the pediatric audiology community for being a source of professional inspiration and ongoing collaboration: “These people were just amazing to me. Some of them were the great researchers, clinician-scientists, and friends. Many, many others were the hardworking, big-hearted pediatric audiologists that I met from all over the world – they would move mountains to provide better services for babies and kids who had hearing loss. To all of you: you amaze and inspire me and if anything I have done helps you in your work, then I am a happy audiologist.”

Collaborations are essential in Scollie’s work, as acknowledged by both Wolfe and Scollie. Naming her many collaborators, Scollie expressed her gratitude for widespread collaboration not only in research, but in efforts to make research innovations available for clinical use through program policies and in the hearing industry: “You have helped straighten and smooth the bumpy road of pediatric hearing aid fitting through your innovation and implementation.”

The American Academy Awards and Honors banquet of 2018 saw six other awardees, including Laurie Eisenberg, who received the Jerger Career Award for Research in Audiology, and Ora Büerkli-Halvey, who received the Samuel F. Lybarger Industry Award. Past awardees from Canada include Bill Cole, who received the Industry Award in 2014, and Richard Seewald, who received the International Award in Hearing in 2007.

Industry Pioneer, Andy Rihs Dies at 75

Andy Rihs, one of the founders of Phonak, died of complications from leukemia on April 18. He was 75 years old. Known for his tremendous foresight, creative spirit, and entrepreneurial passion, Rihs, along with Beda Diethelm and his brother “Jöggi” Rihs, joined AG für Elektroakustik. The three of them developed and shaped the company into Phonak, now part of Sonova.

A colorful figure in the industry, Rihs oversaw the development of Phonak into one of the world’s most successful hearing aid manufacturers.

“We all knew Andy as a very approachable person with a great sense of humor, grand visions, and ambitious goals. He knew how to inspire and motivate his business partners and colleagues and offer them attractive prospects. He was never scared to take necessary risks in business if it meant moving up to the next level. He was never the kind to set his sights low. And if an idea failed to take off at the first attempt, this gave him precisely the incentive he needed to try again – and to successfully overcome any obstacles this time round.”
–Sonova Board Chair, Robert Spoerry

During Rihs’s tenure at Phonak, the company grew from a small, backwater hearing aid manufacturer to a global player that now boasts sales of more than CHF 2.5 billion and a global workforce of over 14,000 employees. In addition to his work at Phonak, Rihs was the owner of the BMC Racing Team, a professional bicycling team.

Source: Sonova, Reuters