Executive Director

Dr. Peggy Nelson is a Dean's Medal Professor and former Chair of the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences (SLHS). Her work bridges auditory psychophysics, speech perception, and sensory aids. She has had NIH funding since 1992, completing a K08 mentored scientist award, an R03 small grant, and two different R01 research grants. Her work originally focused on the psychophysics of hearing loss, but has moved into translational work on sensory aids, both hearing aids and cochlear implants. She has had a number of subcontract awards from small business grants, which have led to fruitful collaborations between her students and local industries. She has mentored a number of PhD and AuD students, as well as post-doctoral fellows. She has served as a mentor for other NIH K08 and K23 awards. She has also served as Chair of the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, with her current term ending in Summer, 2015.

Scientific Co-Directors

Dr. Gordon Legge is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor and former Chair of the University of Minnesota's Department of Psychology. He is a leading scientist in vision research and was the recent winner of the Helen Keller prize for vision research from the Helen Keller Foundation and the BrightFocus Foundation. Dr. Legge's research deals with visual perception and cognition. Currently, projects focus on the roles of vision in reading, object recognition, and spatial navigation. In all of these areas, there is a special focus on the problems encountered by people with low vision. The lab has been widely recognized for applying the principles and methods of basic visual science to explain the difficulties encountered by people with low vision. Other areas of include studies of binocular vision (including stereopsis) and contrast coding.

Dr. Andrew Oxenham is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Otolaryngology. He is an expert in human auditory perception and neuroscience, bridging both the basic and applied branches of auditory science. He has had continuous NIH funding since 1998 and has authored 120 peer-reviewed papers since 1994. His focus has been on perceptual consequences of hearing loss and on improving sound perception through cochlear implants. He is a past winner of the Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences and of the R. Bruce Lindsay Award from the Acoustical Society of America. He also serves on the Executive Committees of the Psychology Department and the Center for Cognitive Sciences.

Scientific Advisory Committee

Dr. Meredith Adams is an Assistant Professor and surgeon in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head, and Neck Surgery. Her primary clinical interest is neurotology, the surgical and medical management of disorders of hearing, balance, and facial movement. She studies and treats auditory and vestibular disorders from the periphery to central neural mechanisms. She has published in the areas of auditory neuropathy, vestibular disorders, and disorders such as Meniere's disease and superior canal dehiscence.

Dr. Juergen Konczak is a Professor in the School of Kinesiology (CEHD). His research focuses on biomechanics, haptics, movement neuroscience, movement disorders, neurorehabilitation, proprioception, and somatosensation.

Dr. Hubert Lim is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. His research focuses on neurophysiology and perceptual studies in animals and humans to better understand sound processing within the central auditory system. This research guides the development of new stimulation devices for hearing restoration and tinnitus suppression. One project to test a new midbrain auditory prosthesis in deaf patients is currently funded by NIDCD U01DC013030 (Lead PI) and is in collaboration with the largest cochlear implant company, Cochlear Limited. Since arriving in Minnesota in 2009, Dr. Lim's lab has continued to perform translational research with clinicians and several companies, including one of the leading medical device companies in the world, Medtronic (located in Minneapolis).

Dr. Linda McLoon is a Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Neurosciences. Dr. McLoon's work focuses on developing pharmacologic treatments for a number of diseases of the eye and orbit. She studies craniofacial muscles and their innervation with a focus on extraocular muscles (EOM). Eye movement disorders affect the ability of the visual system to process the visual world correctly. Her lab was the first to demonstrate that direct muscular injection of insulin growth factors I or II results in significant increase muscle force generation and myofiber size. Sustained delivery of these and other muscle signaling factors results in significantly altered muscle size and force generation that continues for several months after treatment ends. Her work has generated over 90 publications in peer-reviewed journals and has been funded by the NIH since 1991.

Dr. Sandra Montezuma is a surgeon and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Neurosciences. Her current work includes retinal implants, age-related macular degeneration, and angiogenesis research. Dr. Montezuma is working on a new device, designed to restore some sight in patients blind due to retinitis pigmentosa, now being offered at the University of Minnesota. Designed by Second Sight Medical Products, Argus II is the world's first FDA approved artificial retina. Known as a "retinal prosthesis system," the Argus II is designed to partially restore vision in people with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic condition severely damaging photoreceptors in the eye, causing blindness. Argus II replaces electrical pulses meant to be sent by photoreceptor cells in the eye, which are damaged by the disease. A stimulator is implanted inside the eye and connected to an external device, including a video camera and processing unit. The scene is captured and processed, then sent wirelessly to the implanted device for translation into electric pulses for the brain to receive. The device is designed to help patients see outlines and shapes, detect light, and help with simple day-to-day tasks. Some also report being able to read large print, a major advancement.