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Professor Colette McKay

Prof McKay is the Principal Scientist and Leader of Translational Hearing Research, and has an impressive academic and professional background.

After completing an undergraduate degree in mathematics and physics and a PhD in Physics at the University of Melbourne, Colette went on to study her Postgraduate Diploma in Audiology at the Department of Otolaryngology at the University. Colette’s decision to study audiology was largely due to the fact that further advancement in physics would have required a move overseas, which was not a priority at that time. It also provided an opportunity to forge a career working with people instead of equations!

Around 1983, Prof Graeme Clark AC approached Colette to work with him on the Cochlear implant. Colette’s area of expertise is psychophysics and signal processing, and she was directly involved with the development and evaluation of the spectral maxima sound processor (SMSP) in the late 1980’s; a strategy that was commercialised by Cochlear as SPEAK, and is the basis of the modern version, ACE.

Colette’s involvement with the University of Melbourne continued, and from 1989 to 2004, Colette held full time research fellow positions in the Department of Otolaryngology, in addition to teaching audiology.

The next stage in Colette’s professional journey involved a move to the United Kingdom in 2004 to take up the Chair in Auditory Science at Aston University in Birmingham. At Aston, she set up an auditory research program, and developed and implemented an undergraduate degree in Audiology. Colette moved to the University of Manchester in 2007, where she was appointed Chair in Applied Hearing Research and led the auditory research program.

Colette returned to Australia in 2013 when an opportunity became available to join the Bionics Institute. Colette has brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to her role, and has built an impressive team in Translational Hearing Research. Colette has been instrumental in bringing five students into the Institute to undertake research for their PhD. One of these students is now working at the Bionics Institute after graduating; Colette enjoys seeing her other ex- PhD students out in the world setting up their own research labs in the UK and Europe, and Malaysia. She derives a great sense of achievement to have provided mentorship for talented young people.

Colette’s one goal is to make life better for people with hearing loss. Most of her research has been to improve the cochlear implant, specifically in signal processing, and gaining an understanding of how electrical stimulation effects how people hear sounds.

I enjoy working with my great team at the Bionics Institute, who really support each other; team cohesion makes all the difference in the world to quality of work life. Prof Colette McKay

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