John Casali and Kichol Lee at SIS Award

John Casali and Kichol Lee at SIS Award
(left) Dr. John Casali giving the award acceptance speech; (right) Award presentation: (from left) Lt COL Kristy Casto, PhD, NHCA President; Dr. Kichole Lee; Dr. John Casali; Dr John Howard, M.D., NIOSH Director.

(Update on June 3, 2016) This story was featured under the title "Virginia Tech laboratory to receive Safe-in-Sound Innovation Award" on the Virginia Tech News.

(March 18, 2016) Virginia Tech's John Grado Professor Dr. John G. Casali has won the Safe-in-Sound Award for Innovation in Hearing Conservation, which is considered to be a top U.S. Award in hearing/hearing conservation given jointly by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA). The award is given based on a rigorous committee review by both NIOSH and NHCA. The 2016 award also recognizes the many contributions of ISE’s Auditory Systems Laboratory, founded by Dr. Casali in 1983 and of which he currently serves as Director, as well as the efforts of Dr. Kichol Lee, Research Assistant Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

The award was presented at the 41st Annual Conference of the National Hearing Conservation Association in San Diego, CA on February 19, 2016. NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard, M.D., came from Washington, DC to present the award in person to Dr. Casali and the other recipient, 3M Abrasive Systems Division. The Safe-in-Sound award has primarily been given to corporations or government agencies, as well as two university educational programs in music and audio engineering. However, the Auditory Systems Laboratory at VT is the first academic research laboratory to receive the award for Innovation. In making the award presentation, Dr. Howard stated that 

"The work of the Auditory Systems Laboratory is unique in that it combines human factors engineering with acoustics and audiology to solve research questions in many aspects of auditory perception and hearing health. ... Their initiatives to study the user's ability to hear, perceive, and respond to important auditory stimuli in their environments -- that is, the ability to maintain "Auditory Situation Awareness," are recognized as innovative and broad reaching, and are considered critical to the improvement of hearing protection devices and the safety of their wearers. The ultimate beneficiaries of this work are primarily military personnel, but also workers in jobs which impose hazards that stem from not being able to hear important signals and communications. John Casali’s example and leadership instills a culture of scientific rigor, precision, and attention to detail that contributes to practical solutions in the real world of hazardous noise exposures."

Over the past two years, Drs. Casali and Lee developed a comprehensive, objective test battery for the U.S. Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence, and delivered it in November, 2015. This test battery, inclusive of psychophysical instrumentation and human subject protocols, enables formal evaluation of hearing protectors and tactical headsets as to their impacts on a soldier's auditory situation awareness. It is known as the Virginia Tech "DRILCOM" test, in view that it evaluates 4 elements of hearing-related situation awareness: Detection, Recognition/Identification, Localization, and COMmunications. This test battery comprised one of the innovations that led to the Safe-in-Sound award, along with several patents and seminal publications.

For more information, please visit the following web sites.


2016 Winners:

Dr. John G. Casali's Acceptance Presentation for the Innovation Award (Adobe Flash Required)

A Historical Overview of Research by the Auditory Systems Laboratory, Virginia Tech (Adobe Flash Required)

"NIOSH announces ‘Safe-in-Sound’ award winners," a recent article in Safety+Health, the official magazine of the National Safety Congress