NIOSH researcher Dr. Mark Stephenson has been named "Outstanding Hearing Conservationist" by the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) for his noteworthy contributions to hearing loss prevention research and development of hearing conservation standards and practices, according to an NHCA press release. The annual award recognizes individuals for their outstanding contributions within the field of hearing conservation.

Dr. Stephenson, who served 20 years as an audiologist in the United States Air Force, is a senior research audiologist at NIOSH’s Hearing Loss Prevention Program in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has been appointed as the scientific research coordinator for NIOSH's noise and hearing loss research program, responsible for coordinating all strategic planning and program research proposals/evaluations for NIOSH in the area of hearing loss prevention.

"Mark's contributions are now shaping the future of hearing loss prevention," said Susan Griest, incoming NHCA president and awards task force chair. "The long-term impact of his research in hearing protector performance and noise exposures, along with his contributions to NIOSH practical guides and documents, will improve the health and wellness of people for years to come."

Dr. Stephenson spent most of his Air Force career at the Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, where he investigated the hazards of noise exposure, hearing protector performance and voice communication during noise. Dr. Stephenson is active in numerous professional organizations. He has served as a president of the Air Force Audiology Association, and vice president of the National Hearing Conservation Association. He previously served as the Chair of the American Academy of Audiology Task Force on Hearing Conservation. Dr. Stephenson is an adjunct professor at the Ohio State University and Miami University, where he teaches industrial audiology.

Dr. Stephenson contributed to the National Academy of Science's “Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Associated with Military Service from World War II to the Present” report, which provided recommendations to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on the assessment of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus associated with service in the Armed Forces. In his work at NIOSH, he contributed to "The 1996 NIOSH Practical Guide: Preventing Occupational Hearing Loss" and "The 1998 NIOSH Criteria Document" about recommendations on age corrections in audiograms. He is also a frequent speaker on the topic of hearing loss prevention in the construction / shipyard industries, and has appeared on PBS's "Ask This Old House" series as an expert on hearing protection.

Dr. Stephenson was presented the "Outstanding Hearing Conservationist" award at the NHCA's "Explore the World of Hearing Loss Prevention" conference in Orlando, Florida, on February 27, 2010.