2018 Speaker Biographies

Debbie Abel, AuD

Debbie Abel, Au.D. received her Bachelor and Master's degrees from Kent State University and her AuD from the Arizona School of Health Sciences. Dr. Abel spent 13 years in private practice in Alliance, OH after moving an existing practice from the Alliance Eye and Ear Clinic, where she was employed for 14 years, taking the ENT with her. She recently became the manager of Coding and Contracting Services for Audigy and is also associated with Arch Health Partners in Poway, CA, where she provides audiologic services on a limited schedule.

Formerly the Academy's Senior Specialist, Practice Management, she was the Director of Reimbursement and Practice Compliance and served as an Academy Board member-at-large and as the chair of the Academy's Coding and Reimbursement Committee and a member of the Academy's Ethical Practice Board. She currently sits on the Practice Compliance Committee and is serving on the board of the American Academy of Audiology Foundation.Dr. Abel has authored several chapters in Plural Publication texts including the first and second editions of Strategic Practice Management: A Patient Centered Approach/Business and Procedural Considerations and The Essential Guide to Coding in Otolaryngology: Coding, Billing and Practice Management. The audiology companion book, The Essential Guide to Coding in Audiology: Coding, Billing and Practice Management, edited by Dr. Abel, was published in 2017.

Dr. Abel is an adjunct assistant professor at A. T. Still. She was the Alliance Area's 1994 Athena Award recipient, was awarded the first "Active Advocate of the Year" by the State Leaders' Network of the American Academy of Audiology in 2006, in 2012, the American Academy of Audiology's President's Award and in 2017, ADA's Joel Wernick Award.



Hammam AlMakadma, Au.D., Ph.D., CCC-A

Dr. AlMakadma is an assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Communicative Disorders at the University of Louisville. He earned his AuD in 2011, and his PhD in Audiology in 2017 from Syracuse University. His current research activities focus on refining wideband acoustic immittance measurements for clinical diagnosis of middle ear disorders in children and adults, and detection of conductive dysfunction in newborns' ears. In addition to research, Dr. AlMakadma assumes responsibilities in teaching and clinical supervision of AuD students at the University of Louisville. On his spare time, he likes to run, hike, and practice martial arts.



Torgen Alvstad

Torgen is one of Fuel Medica's seasoned Regional Managers and among the company's first employees.Prior to Fuel, he was a sales manager covering the Portland metro area, which he credits for the development of his interpersonal and organizational skills.Torgen was born, raised and lives in Oregon. During his free time, he enjoys trying new restaurants with his wife, running the many forested trails of Portland, and of course cheering on his alma mater. Go Ducks!



Kathy Dowd, M.Ed, AuD

Dr. Dowd has 40 years of audiology clinical experience in ENT offices, schools, state departments and private practice. She is currently Executive Director of The Audiology Project to advocate for audiology management of diabetes related hearing and balance problems.



Robin Harrington, PT, DPT, OCS

Education: Graduated from University of Louisville in 1997 with Bachelors in Science, minor in Exercise Science Sports Medicine. Continued at Uof L and received a Master's in Physical Therapy in 2001. Transitional Doctorate from Regis University in 2008. Professional: KORT for 16 years. Board certified Orthopedic Specialist from APTA since 2006. In 2009 helped build KORT Vestibular Rehabilitation program with training from American Institute of Balance, Dr. Richard Gans.



Patrick N. Plyler, Ph.D.

Patrick N. Plyler is a Professor and Program Director in the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. His research interests are in the areas of speech perception, the efficacy and effectiveness of advanced features in hearing instruments, and acceptance of background noise. Dr. Plyler has received external support for numerous research projects and has published in journals such as the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, International Journal of Audiology, Clinical Neurophysiology, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, and Journal of Speech-Language Hearing Research.