Science Communication Award 2017-2018

Science Communication Award 2017-2018

Category 1 (Long format):
Quincy Whitney for
American Luthier: Carleen Hutchins–the Art and Science of the Violin,”
published in Acoustics Today

Category 2 (Short format non-member):
Dallas Taylor and Kevin Edds for the episode
20,000 dBs Under the Sea
of their podcast, “Twenty Thousand Hertz”

Category 3 (Short format ASA member):
Noel Hanna for
Explainer: Why the human voice is so versatile,
published at




(Note: All press conference times are in Eastern Time)

Wednesday, Dec. 9th @ 11:00 am ET

  • Imitation Mosquito Ears Help Identify Mosquito Species and Sex
    Tim Ziemer – University of Bremen
    (Session: “A bio-inspired acoustic detector of mosquito sex and species” Dec. 7, 1:10 pm ET)
  • Outside Oz, GLINDA Reports on Tornado Acoustics
    Brian Elbing – Oklahoma State University
    (Session: “Infrasound measurement of tornadoes and other severe storm events at close range” Dec. 7, 1:10 pm ET)
  • Smarter Traffic Signs Ahead?
    Andrzej Czyzewski – Gdansk University of Technology
    (Session: “Comparing traffic intensity estimates employing passive acoustic Radar and microwave Doppler Radar sensor” Dec. 7, 10:15 am ET)

Thursday, Dec. 10th @ 3:00 pm ET

  • Masked Education: Which Face Coverings are Best for Student Comprehension?
    Pasquale Bottalico – University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    (Session: “Speech intelligibility in auralized classrooms when the talker is wearing a face mask” Dec. 9, 3:15 pm ET)
  • Lung Ultrasounds Could Help Determine COVID-19 Outcome
    Umberto Sabatini – Policlinico San Matteo
    (Session: “Is lung ultrasound a predictor of worsening in Covid-19 patients?” Dec. 10 at 12 noon ET)
  • How Loud Is Too Loud? Identifying Noise Levels That Deter Older Restaurant Patrons
    Pasquale Bottalico – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    (Session: “Lombard effect, ambient noise and willingness to spend time and money in a restaurant amongst older adults” Dec. 10, 1:10 p.m. ET)

Friday, Dec. 11th @ 10:00 am ET

  • Face Masks Provide Additional Communication Barrier for Non-Native Speech
    Rajka Smiljanic – University of Texas at Austin
    (Session: “Effects of face masks and speaking style on audio-visual speech perception and memory” Dec. 10, 3:35 pm ET)
  • Sounds, Smells Could Sway Our Self-Image
    Giada Brianza – University of Sussex
    “Understanding the impact of sound and smell on body image perception” Dec. 11, 12:20 pm ET)

For More Information:
AIP Media Line




Main meeting website:

Technical program:

Press Room:



ASA’s Worldwide Press Room will be updated throughout the conference with additional tips on dozens of newsworthy stories and with lay language papers, which are 300-500 word summaries of presentations written by scientists for a general audience and accompanied by photos, audio and video. You can visit the site during the meeting at



The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its 7,000 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (the world’s leading journal on acoustics), Acoustics Today magazine, books, and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. For more information about ASA, visit our website at

4aPPa4 – Perception of Vowels and Consonants in Cochlear Implant Users

Melissa Malinasky –

Popular version of paper 4aPPa4
Presented Thursday morning, December 10 , 2020
179th ASA Meeting, Acoustics Virtually Everywhere

Understanding individual phoneme sounds is vital to speech perception. While cochlear implants (CI) can improve speech understanding, they also introduce distortions to sound input due to the limits of technology versus the human ear. Understanding which phonemes are most commonly misunderstood, and in what context this occurs can lead to the development of better signal processing strategies in Cis and better audiologic rehabilitation strategies post-implantation. The objective of this study was to evaluate perceptual differences in accuracy of specific vowels and consonants in experienced CI users. This study looked at 25 experienced adult CI users that were a part of a larger study by Shafiro et al. Participants were presented with a word, and given closed-set responses that tested their ability to distinguish between individual consonants of vowels. To determine if they can make these distinctions, each multiple-choice response was varied by one phonemic sound (i.e. bad vs bat, hud vs hid).

Cochlear implant users achieved 78% accuracy overall for consonant sounds compared to 97% for normal hearing participants. This shows that CI users are quite successful at identifying individual consonants sounds. Consonants at the beginning of the word were identified with 80.5% accuracy, while consonants at the end of the word were identified with 75.4% accuracy. This is not as great of a variation as we would have predicted.

For correct identification of vowels, cochlear implant users had 75% accuracy, while normal hearing users had 92% accuracy. Vowels were analyzed based on accuracy, as well as other vowels they were confused with. Some vowel sounds had over 80% accuracy, while others had as low as 45%.

Overall, this study shows that CI users have fairly good consonant and vowel recognition. These results are consistent with what has been previously reported by Rodvik et al. (2018). While CI users do perform quite well, they are still outperformed by their normal hearing, age-matched peers. The presence of a single consonant can affect someone’s entire understanding of a word, and it is important to understand where the most difficulty lies for CI users. Improvement in identification of some of these more difficult consonants can give this population greater access to language understanding. These findings can also help tailor auditory training programs, and help improve speech intelligibility in CI users.


Hillenbrand, J., Getty, L. A., Clark, M. J., & Wheeler, K. (1995). Acoustic characteristics of American English vowels. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 97(5), 3099–3111. doi: 10.1121/1.411872

House, A. S., Williams, C. E., Hecker, M. H. L., & Kryter, K. D. (1965). Articulation testing methods: Consonantal differentiation with a closer response set. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 37(1), 158–166.

Peterson, G. E., & Barney, H. L. (1952). Control Methods Used in a Study of the Vowels. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 24(2), 175–184. doi: 10.1121/1.1906875

Rødvik AK, von Koss Torkildsen J, Wie OB, Storaker MA, Silvola JT. Consonant and Vowel Identification in Cochlear Implant Users Measured by Nonsense Words: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2018 Apr 17;61(4):1023-1050. doi: 10.1044/2018_JSLHR-H-16-0463. PMID: 29623340.

Shafiro V, Hebb M, Walker C, Oh J, Hsiao Y, Brown K, Sheft S, Li Y, Vasil K, Moberly AC. Development of the Basic Auditory Skills Evaluation Battery for Online Testing of Cochlear Implant Listeners. Am J Audiol. 2020 Sep 18;29(3S):577-590. doi: 10.1044/2020_AJA-19-00083. Epub 2020 Sep 18. PMID: 32946250.

1aBAd2 – Pilot studies on zebrafish echocardiography and zebrafish ultrasound vibro-elastography

Xiaoming Zhang, PhD –
Department of Radiology
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN 55905

Alex X. Zhang, Xiaolei Xu, PhD
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN 55905

Popular version of paper 1aBAd2
Presented Monday morning, December 7, 2020
179th ASA Meeting, Acoustics Virtually Everywhere

Zebrafish are increasingly being used as animal models for human diseases such as cardiomyopathy and neuroblastoma.  Like humans, zebrafish have a near-fully sequenced genome. However, the body of a zebrafish is only about 1.5-2.5 cm in length, which is much smaller than a person. To extrapolate results from zebrafish to humans, reliable quantitative measures on zebrafish are needed.

In this pilot study, we develop two noninvasive measurement techniques in zebrafish. One is to measure the heart function of zebrafish using echocardiography. Another is to measure the elastic property of zebrafish tissues using ultrasound vibro-elastography.

In zebrafish echocardiography, an adult zebrafish was anesthetized for three minutes in a tricaine solution. The zebrafish was then taken out of the anesthetic solution and positioned in a specially designed holder. The high-frequency Vevo 3100 ultrasound system with a MX700 ultrasound probe (29-71 MHz) was used to measure the heart function of the zebrafish. Figure 1 shows the experimental setup. Ultrasound imaging was used to measure heart volumes at the end of systole and diastole. The ejection fraction of the heart was analyzed. Pulse-wave Doppler was also used to analyze the heart function. We developed a technique to improve zebrafish echocardiography by removing the surface skin tissue near the heart of a zebrafish, which significantly improved the resolution of ultrasound images for analyzing heart function in zebrafish. All zebrafish recovered from this procedure and the subsequent echocardiography exam.

Another pilot study was to measure the elastic properties of zebrafish using ultrasound vibro-elastography. A 0.1 second gentle harmonic vibration was generated on the tail of a zebrafish using a sphere tip indenter with a 3 mm diameter. Shear wave propagation in the zebrafish was measured using another ultrasound system with a high frequency 18 MHz ultrasound probe. High frame rate ultrasound images were obtained using this ultrasound system to measure the generated wave propagation (300-500 Hz) in the bodies of the zebrafish. Figure 2 shows the experimental setup. Video 1 shows the wave propagation in a zebrafish. A region of interested (ROI) was used to analyze the sheer wave speed map. The ROI covered the most central area of the zebrafish surrounding the heart. The wave speed was 3.13 ± 1.20 (m/s) in the ROI at 300 Hz. It was found that wave speed increased from 300 Hz to 500 Hz as it passed through the zebrafish. All zebrafish recovered from this experiment. We will improve this technique for measuring elastic properties of the heart of zebrafish. It is feasible to develop this technique for measuring the elastic properties of zebrafish for phenotyping various diseases.

zebrafish echocardiographyFigure 1. Experiment setup of zebrafish echocardiography.

zebrafish ultrasound vibro-elastographyFigure 2. Experimental setup of zebrafish ultrasound vibro-elastography.

5pAAa4 – The clapping circle “squeak,” finally explained

“The clapping circle “squeak,” finally explained”

Elspeth Wing –
Steven Herr –
Alexander Petty –
Alexander Dufour –
Frederick Hoham –
Morgan Merrill –
Donovan Samphier –
Weimin Thor –
Kushagra Singh –
Yutong Xue –
Davin Huston –
Stuart Bolton –

Purdue University
610 Purdue Mall
West Lafayette, IN 47907

Popular version of paper 5pAAa4 (your paper version)
Presented Friday morning, December 11, 2020
179th ASA Meeting, Acoustics Virtually Everywhere

Ask any member of the Purdue University community about the “Clapping Circle,” and they will eagerly tell you about the unforgettable squeak that appears to materialize out of thin air when you stand in the middle of it and clap your hands. In 2019, the Purdue student chapter of the Acoustical Society of America gathered a team of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty to conduct a study to establish, once and for all, the specific acoustic mechanisms behind “the squeak.”

An aerial photo of the Clapping Circle

An aerial photo of the Clapping Circle


A recording of the clap and subsequent squeak

The Clapping Circle is a circular plaza consisting of sixty-six concentric rings of stone tiles, and with stone benches on its edges. This architectural feature has led to numerous theories from acoustics experts about the cause: from reflections off the ground tiles, to the surrounding benches, or even the surrounding trees and buildings.

The members of the Purdue student chapter of the ASA decided to thoroughly investigate. They set up a multidirectional speaker in the middle to simulate a clap at different heights, and then recorded the results through a microphone. They even covered the entire circle in moving blankets to act as a control.

A photograph of the speaker and microphone in the middle of the circle during testing

A photograph of the speaker and microphone in the middle of the circle during testing

The experiments confirmed their theory: two phenomena known as “acoustical diffraction grating” and “repetition pitch”  combined to create the effect.  Acoustical diffraction grating refers to the reinforcement of certain frequencies produced by a reflection, which they theorized was coming from the progressively more distant bevels between the ground tiles. “Repetition pitch” refers to the ear’s processing of repeated percussive sounds as a pitch. Put both of these together, and you get a rapidly descending pitch which sounds like a squeak.

When they covered the circle with hundreds of moving blankets, the squeak disappeared – ultimately proving their theory correct.

While similar studies have been performed at stepped architectural features (such as the pyramid at Chichen-Itza), this is the most completely researched explanation of the “clapping circle” phenomenon.  And now, thanks to these diligent acoustics students, the tour guides at Purdue University will have a proper scientific explanation for “the squeak!”

Some of the investigation team at the site

Check out the video link below to a promotional video about the project created by Purdue University


More information: