PhD in audiology grad earns one of five research scholarships

Kaleigh Cooper Browning, a Georgia native who this spring earned her Doctorate in Audiology from Louisiana Tech, was one of only five students to win a 2021 Student Research Forum Scholarship Award in May for her ambitious research and presentation at the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) annual conference.

Each year, Plural Publishing supports the AAA Foundation by underwriting the Student Research Forum scholarship awards. Current graduate students in audiology (as Browning was at the time) and recent graduates were invited this year to submit proposals for presentation of their original research in audiology at the AAA 2021 Virtual Conference.

Browning was one of the five selected student presenters who each received $500.

“The main reasons Kaleigh was in the running for this award is because the project was well done from inception to implementation,” said Tech Audiology Program Director Dr. Melinda Bryan, “and because her project was clinical applicable.”

Browning’s research entailed gathering a specified amount of individuals with some specific criteria — in this case, symmetrical hearing loss in both ears ranging from mild to moderately-severe — and taking a measurement on how well a patient is able to repeat back single syllable words at a certain level based on their hearing loss.

“The reason we do this clinically,” Browning said, “is to determine if hearing aids will help the patient and to see where the site of lesion is for hearing loss.”

Bryan said her winning research student’s project was “ambitious” for an audiology student because most of them complete capstone projects or projects in groups, and many students don’t test subjects as part of their research.

“Kaleigh, on the other hand, developed this project, recruiting and testing subjects,” Bryan said. “Furthermore, this project is hugely clinically applicable as it is a part of every hearing examination completed worldwide… word recognition scores are completed as a part of a standard test battery for every patient that presents for a hearing examination. So if a better way of determining presentation level can be determined, it would help all audiologists complete their testing in a more efficient manner.”

The work was a labor of love for Browning, who knew “from a very young age” that she “wanted to be in the helping profession.”

“I am hard-of-hearing and have been wearing hearing aids since I was 4, so I was exposed to the world of audiology at a young age,” she said.

From Acworth, Georgia — part of the Atlanta metropolitan area — Browning completed her undergraduate degree in Communication & Science Disorders from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia in May, 2016. Dr. Browning recently accepted a job as an audiologist, specializing in vestibular/balance evaluations and rehabilitation, at Advent Health in Daytona Beach, Fla.


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