Kelly Tremblay

Photo: Kelly Tremblay
Speech & Hearing Sciences
College of Arts & Sciences
Interview Date: 
Tue, 08/26/2014

Dr. Kelly Tremblay is a Professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. Growing up, Dr. Tremblay found she gravitated towards the fields of anthropology and medicine—fields in which she could study both social and biological contexts of human behavior—and it led her to a career as an Audiologist. She later earned her doctorate in Neuroscience and joined the faculty in UW’s Speech and Hearing Sciences. During her upbringing and education, she had very little access to female scientists. It was not until Dr. Tremblay met her PhD advisor, Dr. Nina Kraus, at Northwestern University that she professionally and personally connected with women in her field. Dr. Kraus was instrumental in her learning to become a world-class scientist while simultaneously raising children with her husband. Dr. Kraus demonstrated so many practical, and often unconventional, examples of work/life balance that Dr. Tremblay later adopted into her own family. For example, Dr. Tremblay’s husband chose to work from home so he could have a flexible schedule for their infant children. That flexibility helped Kelly prepare for tenure during her early career as a professor. While she sites work/life balance as a continuous struggle, her credits creativity and adaptability as strategies that allow her to juggle her many demands and thrive as a scientist.

Q&A:Dr. Tremblay’s Work on Hearing Loss and Recently-Published Book

Q. What are you currently working on?

A. I’ve spent the last decade or so trying to understand how the human brain processes sound. I’ve also studied how age-related hearing loss and the use of devices such as cochlear implants and hearing aids affect the brain. Now I’m trying to get back to my clinical roots by relating new discoveries in neuroscience to clinical communication problems that older adults experience. Until you work or live with people who have hearing loss, it’s easy to over simplify the issues by merely assuming that a hearing aid will solve the problem. But that hasn’t proven to be true. Hearing aids make sounds louder but they do not compensate for deteriorations in the brain responsible for transmitting sound from the ear to the brain.

Q. What is your proudest accomplishment?

A. The book series I edited; called, Translational Perspectives in Auditory Neuroscience. There are many scientists who try to help people through basic science like cellular and molecular biology. There are also many people who work with patients by trying to apply knowledge in ways to work with them. Those two groups don’t often work together but I belong to both groups. I have a clinical degree and I do basic science. I’m trying to bring these two communities together through this book so science may be advanced in a way that merges knowledge from both sides of the research continuum so we can have new perspectives.

Learn more about Dr. Tremblay via her lab website: