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June 1, 2004

'Notable Woman' of 2003

From: Knoxville News Sentinel, TN - Jun 1, 2004

June 2, 2004

Can you hear me now?

If a teacher's ever asked you that in a crowded, noisy classroom and you've been able to answer yes, you might just owe a thanks to Dr. Anna Nabelek, the University of Tennessee's Notable Woman of the Year for 2003.

Nabelek, a professor of audiology and speech pathology, officially retired from UT in 1996 but continues to conduct research funded by the National Institutes of Health. She also mentors students in studies of classroom acoustics, hearing aids, and the effects of noise and reverberation on those who have hearing impairments.

Her research is used in designing classrooms and lecture halls, particularly for those with impaired hearing. Nabelek's research has also led to the improvement of hearing aids and other assistive listening systems.

"Even the most newly educated researchers in our field know what an honor it is to work alongside Dr. Nabelek," said Dr. Ashley Harkrider, an assistant professor of audiology.

In her nomination of the professor, Harkrider wrote, "Dr. Nabelek officially retired in 1996 but no one studying acoustics in the United States, internationally, or in our department would ever guess it."

Nabelek continues to write grants and receive research funding and serve as a mentor to students and the department's junior faculty."

One of her extraordinary achievements is the amount of research grants she has received, fellow audiology professor Dr. Sam Burchfield said, pointing out that, for more than 20 years, Nabelek raised enough research funds to more than pay her own salary.

A native of Warsaw, Poland, Nabelek lost a brother in World War II. Her husband, fellow audiology professor Dr. Igor Nabelek, was a soldier in the Slovakian army and was jailed for resisting the German occupation during the war.

The couple came to the United States in the mid-1960s to conduct postdoctoral research at the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, Mo. During their stay, the couple made the decision to bring their teenage sons to the United States. The Nabeleks joined the UT faculty in 1973. They live in the Riverbend area of West Knoxville.

UT's Commission for Women recognized its first notable UT woman in 1995. The idea came from university historian Dr. Milton Klein, who recommended that outstanding women associated with the university be honored on an annual basis. Women are selected in December from a slate prepared by the Notable UT Women Committee. A plaque in the Brown Lounge of the University Center also honors award recipients.

The award recognizes women from three rotating categories: administrator, alumnae, and faculty or staff.

Former UT Notable Women include: 1995, Angie Warren Perkins, UT's first dean of women; 1996, Ann Tanner Taylor, radio broadcaster and UT alumna, 1997, Lida K. Barrett, mathematics department head; 1998, Mary Douglas Ayres Ewell, a pioneering women's basketball coach from 1919 to 1920; 1999, Margaret N. Perry, chancellor of UT-Martin from 1986 to 1997; 2000, Nathalia Wright, English professor from 1949-1982; 2001, Lorayne Lester, dean, UT College of Arts and Sciences from 1996-2002; 2001, Anne Mayhew, vice provost for academic affairs; 2002, Shirley B. Underwood, juvenile court judge and 2002 UT alumna.

Marti Davis may be reached at 584-5234 or martidav@

Copyright 2004, Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.