Our History




The HARL originated in 1984 under the direction of Dr. Robyn Cox as part of the University of Memphis Center for Research Initiatives and Strategies for the Communicatively Impaired (CRISCI). At that time the CRISCI was designated a Center of Excellence and was granted over $600,000 from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for its establishment.

Robyn developed the HARL with the mission to find better ways to fit hearing aids for adults with hearing impairment.


Research and Funding

Early in her career, Robyn was granted funding from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Research Rehabilitation and Development (RR & D) Service to investigate issues related to hearing aid selection and fitting. Because of a lack of existing research about hearing aid fitting outcomes, Robyn and her HARL colleagues were confronted with difficulties determining what qualified as a better hearing aid fitting. As a result the HARL began to conduct outcomes research for hearing aid fittings. In 1987 the Connected Speech Test (CST) was developed. Since that time the HARL has produced a variety of applications designed to assess the objective and subjective outcomes of hearing aid fittings. Many of these applications are considered staples for hearing health care providers and are used the world over. Outcomes research continues to be important to the HARL. Studies designed to develop new clinical applications and to refine existing measures are ongoing. Our newest outcome application, the Device Oriented Subjective Outcome (DOSO) Scale, was developed in 2009.

In 2004 funding for research in the HARL was granted by the National Institutes on Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD). At this time research once again focused on optimizing hearing aid fittings for older adults. Specifically, research was conducted that investigated the preference for bilateral versus unilateral hearing aid fittings, and benefits of traditional versus modified hearing aid fitting procedures for typical hearing aid candidates diagnosed with cochlear dead regions.

In 2010, the HARL successfully obtained funding from NIDCD to examine the effectiveness of different hearing aid technologies for older adults. This results of this reseach are in the publication process.


HARL Alumni

The HARL’s history of excellence in research can be attributed in part to a commitment to teamwork. The culture of the HARL has been shaped by its key team members. Genevieve (Ginny) Alexander was an integral member of the research team from 1986-2008. Along with her dedication to hearing health care and research, Ginny’s prolific organization and technical skills helped to facilitate early and continued successes of the HARL. Ginny’s contributions to HARL research resulted in 33 published papers, 1 book chapter, and 26 presentations/posters that she coauthored. Her passions for innovation, efficiency, and amusement helped to establish a fun and caring laboratory environment. The effects that Ginny had on the HARL continue to be enjoyed today.


Jingjing Xu is a hearing scientist with a background in acoustical engineering. He received his Ph.D. in Audiology from the University of Memphis in 2011, and completed postdoctoral training as a Research Assistant Professor in the HARL from 2011-2016. Jingjing had a huge impact on the HARL during his 10 year tenure. In addition to his technical expertise and research strengths, Jingjing's professional interactions exemplified collegiality and productive teamwork. These characteristics are core values in the HARL and members strive to meet the standard set by Jingjing during his time in the lab.


We also have had the benefit of working with several CRISCI Research Associates. For example, our longest-employed CRISCI researcher, Ginger Gray, worked with us from 1991-2005. Ginger coauthored 9 published papers and 7 presentations/posters based on research from the HARL.

Robyn also has mentored 8 successful Ph.D. candidates, and has directed several Au.D. and M.A. student research projects at the University of Memphis. All of these students have produced research that has contributed to the mission of HARL.