Resonating Legacies: James E. West’s Impact on Acoustics

We recently posted about past recipients of the James E. West Fellowship which provides funding to minority students in their pursuit of graduate-level degrees in acoustics. Today, we’d like to highlight some of the publications of the man who the award is named in honor of: inventor and past ASA President, James E. West.

Besides being President of the ASA from 1998 to 1999, he’s also a recipient of the Silver Medal in Engineering Acoustics and the Gold Medal. After a retiring from a career at Bell Labs, he went on to start a second career as a research professor at Johns Hopkins University. Over the years, his research has helped not only the acoustics community, but the world at large.

Perhaps West’s most well-known work is his 1966 publication with G. M. Sessler about the development of foil-electret microphones. This Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA) article revolutionized the microphone industry; these types of microphones have been used in everything from hearing aids and phones to GPS devices and underwater instruments. This invention actually got him inducted into The National Inventors Hall of Fame (You can read more about the impact of the electret microphone in this Reflection!)

James E. West Tuning Fork

ASA President Lawrence Crum (R) presents President-Elect James E. West (L) with the ASA President’s Tuning Fork. (June 1998)

But, of course, West continued to research and impact the acoustics community after this seminal work. More recently, he coauthored this JASA paper about noise in hospital emergency rooms with Douglas Orellana and Ilene J. Busch-Vishniac. He and Busch-Vishniac also wrote an early Acoustics Today article about attracting more undergraduate students to studying acoustics.

Want to learn more about this pioneer of acoustics research and his contributions? Check out “A History of Consumer Microphones” and “Being a Black Scholar” in Acoustics Today!

James E. West Silver Medal

ASA President Robert Apfel (L) presents the Silver Medal in Engineering Acoustics to James E. West (R). (Nov 1995)

James E. West Gold Medal

ASA President William Yost (R) presents the Gold Medal to James E. West (L). (June 2006)

New Across Acoustics Episode: Student Paper Competition – Chicago

Another meeting, another round of amazing student research! This episode, we talk to winners of the POMA Student Paper Competition from the 184th meeting of the ASA about their research into using machine learning to model concert hall reverberation time, the effect of clear speech on memory, noise from the Atlas-V rocket launch, the bridge force exerted on the string of a bowed instrument, and a new approach to underwater acoustic source localization.

Like the episode? Read the associated articles:

  • Jonathan Michael Broyles and Zane Tyler Rusk. Predicting the reverberation time of concert halls by use of a random forest regression model. Proc. Mtgs. Acoust.51, 015004 (2023).
  • Nicholas B. Aoki and Georgia Zellou. When clear speech does not enhance memory: Effects of speaking style, voice naturalness, and listener age. Proc. Mtgs. Acoust.51, 060002 (2023).
  • Logan T. Mathews, Mark C. Anderson, Carson D. Gardner, Bradley W. McLaughlin, Brooke M. Hinds, Megan R. McCullah-Boozer, Lucas K. Hall, and Kent L. Gee. An overview of acoustical measurements made of the Atlas V JPSS-2 rocket launch. Proc. Mtgs. Acoust.51, 040003 (2023).
  • Alessio Lampis, Alexander Mayer, Montserrat Pàmies-Vilà, and Vasileios Chatziioannou. Examination of the static and dynamic bridge force components of a bowed string. Proc. Mtgs. Acoust.51, 035002 (2023).
  • Dariush Kari, Andrew C. Singer, Hari Vishnu, and Amir Weiss. A gradient-based optimization approach for underwater acoustic source localization. Proc. Mtgs. Acoust.51, 022002 (2023).

And if you’re a student presenting at the latest meeting in Sydney, don’t forget to submit your POMA to the next Student Paper Competition!

Announcing the Winners of the Chicago POMA Student Paper Competition: 184th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America

Helen Wall Murray

POMA Manuscript Manager
The POMA Editorial Board is proud to announce that the 3rd society-wide student paper competition has come to completion with five papers chosen from the largest pool of POMA Student Paper Competition (PSPC) submissions to date.  The papers span across ten technical areas, ranging from Architectural to Signal Processing, Musical to Computational to Physical and Psychological Acoustics. The core purpose of the competition is to highlight the relevant and cutting-edge research happening across the many disciplines of the ASA, and to draw attention, specifically, to the achievements of young acousticians. Ultimately, we hope this initiative will continue to increase involvement with POMA across the membership and provide an efficient, speedy and valuable path to publication for many first-time authors.

According to POMA Editor Megan Ballard, “All the papers were quite good and also so different in terms of technical content and style. It was difficult to rank them because they were all high quality and excelled in different ways.”

POMA Student Paper Competition
Each winning student author will receive an award of USD $300 and the opportunity to appear on the ASA publications podcast, Across Acoustics. Additionally, a special designation will be added to the cover pages, articles will be be featured on ASA social media accounts, and the winners will receive a formal certificate signed by the ASA President and the POMA Editor.  In the near future, all of the winners from the three competitions and all subsequent competitions will be featured in perpetuity on the POMA Homepage.

We look forward to promoting all of the excellent papers submitted over the next several weeks in upcoming email and social media campaigns.

On behalf of the ASA and the POMA Editorial Board we congratulate the following student authors:

Speech Communication

When clear speech does not enhance memory: Effects of speaking style, voice naturalness, and listener age
Nicholas B. Aoki and Georgia Zellou
Proc. Mtgs. Acoust. 51, 060002 (2023)

Architectural Acoustics

Predicting the reverberation time of concert halls by use of a random forest regression model
Jonathan Michael Broyles and Zane Tyler Rusk
Proc. Mtgs. Acoust. 51, 015004 (2023)

Computational Acoustics

A gradient-based optimization approach for underwater acoustic source localization
Dariush Kari and Andrew C. Singer
Proc. Mtgs. Acoust. 51, 022002 (2023)

Musical Acoustics

Examination of the static and dynamic bridge force components of a bowed string
Alessio Lampis, Alexander Mayer, Montserrat Pàmies-Vilà and Vasileios Chatziioannou
Proc. Mtgs. Acoust. 51, 022002 (2023)


An overview of acoustical measurements made of the Atlas V JPSS-2 rocket launch
Logan T. Mathews, Mark C. Anderson, Carson D. Gardner, Bradley W. McLaughlin, Brooke M. Hinds, Megan R. McCullah-Boozer, Lucas K. Hall and Kent L. Gee
Proc. Mtgs. Acoust. 51, 040003 (2023)
Calling all Sydney-bound Students!

The next student paper competition will commence after the close of the 185th Meeting of the Acoustical Society in Sydney, Australia.  Student presenters are invited to submit a corresponding paper by the competition deadline, which is 30 days after the conclusion of the meeting.  In this case, 8 January 2024.  For more information about the POMA Student Paper Competition (PSPC), please contact the POMA Editorial Office – or review this recent blog post that details the qualifications and guidelines –

We look forward to receiving your Sydney submissions!

Outstanding Student Authors

The Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics (POMA) serves as a platform for showcasing acoustics research presented at Acoustical Society of America (ASA) Meetings. With the winners of the POMA Student Paper Competition from the 184th ASA Meeting soon to be announced, we would like to highlight some past winners. These outstanding papers delve into diverse areas of acoustics, ranging from directional acoustic structures and computational fluid dynamics to array deformations and transfer functions.

Lara Díaz-García, Andrew Reid, Joseph Jackson-Camargo, and James Windmill. “Directional passive acoustic structures inspired by the ear of Achroia grisella.” Proc. Mtgs. Acoust 50, 032001 (2022) doi:

This paper explores the fascinating concept of developing small and directional microphones inspired by the ear of the moth, Achroia grisella. The researchers employ bio-inspiration to overcome the challenge of achieving directional hearing in miniature microphones. By combining analytical equations, finite element modeling, 3D-printing, and experimental measurements, they demonstrate the feasibility of creating innovative microphones with improved directional hearing capabilities.


Mara Salut Escarti-Guillem, Luis M. Garcia-Raffi, Sergio Hoyas, and Oliver Gloth. “Assessment of Computational Fluid Dynamics acoustic prediction accuracy and deflector impact on launch aero-acoustic environment.” Proc. Mtgs. Acoust 50, 040001 (2022) doi:

This paper focuses on the assessment of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) in predicting acoustic environments during launch activities. The researchers investigate the accuracy of CFD simulations in predicting the aero-acoustic environment and the impact of deflectors on noise reduction. Through their study, they provide valuable insights into the use of CFD for optimizing launch vehicle design and reducing noise emissions.


Kanad Sarkar, Manan Mittal, Ryan Corey, Andrew Singer. “Measuring and Exploiting the Locally Linear Mapping between Relative Transfer Functions and Array deformations.” Proc. Mtgs. Acoust 50, 055001 (2022) doi:

This paper delves into the measurement and utilization of the locally linear mapping between relative transfer functions and array deformations. The researchers propose a novel approach to exploit the relationship between acoustic transfer functions and array deformations, enabling improved understanding and control of the acoustic field. Their findings have implications for various applications, including acoustic imaging, sound source localization, and beamforming.

Stay tuned for the announcement of winners from the 184th ASA meeting in Chicago!

To all the students reading this post, make sure to submit your abstracts by July 24, 2023, so that you can participate in the upcoming POMA Student Paper Competition for the 185th ASA Meeting in Sydney, Australia! Up to five student papers will receive an award of USD $300 and the opportunity to appear on the ASA publications podcast, Across Acoustics. Submitting to POMA is not only a chance to win recognition but also a great opportunity to boost a CV or resume with an editor-reviewed proceedings paper. For complete competition information, visit the ASA meetings page.

We encourage you to listen to all the student paper competition episodes on the podcast. These episodes offer valuable insights into cutting-edge research and highlight the achievements of young acousticians like yourself.

Acoustical Society of America Announces Winners of Science Communication Awards

Acoustical Society of America Announces Winners of Science Communication Awards

Acoustical Society of America (ASA) LogoMelville, June 28, 2023 – The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is pleased to announce the winners of the Science Communication Awards, recognizing excellence in the presentation of acoustics related topics to a popular audience.

Each non-ASA member award includes a $2,500 cash prize and a $1,000 reimbursement to attend the awards ceremony at the 186th ASA Meeting taking place in Ottawa, Canada, 13-17 May 2024. Each ASA member award includes a $1,000 cash prize. The winners of the 2023 ASA Science Communication Awards are as follows:

Non-acoustic Expert Multimedia Winner
In the SciShow episode, “5 Places with Amazing Acoustics from Thousands of Years Ago,” show host Hank Green captivates the audience with insightful exploration of acoustics in historical settings. Viewers are transported to ancient venues renowned for their exceptional soundscapes and learn about what acoustic phenomena are taking place. Through engaging storytelling and accessible explanations, this SciShow episode brings the wonders of acoustics to life, inspiring viewers to appreciate the acoustic marvels of the past.

Honorable mentions in this category go to Bartosz Ciechenowski’s interactive science blog, Sound and the Short Wave podcast episode, Experience The Quietest Place On Earth, hosted by Margaret Cirino, Regina G. Barber, and Gabriel Spitzer.

Acoustic Expert Multimedia Winner
The Rest is Just Noise Podcast stands out as a remarkable audio journey into the realm of acoustics. With deep knowledge and captivating storytelling, co-hosts Dr. Andrew Mitchell, Dr. Francesco Aletta, and Dr. Tin Oberman explore various acoustical phenomena and their impact on our lives. Through interviews with experts and immersive soundscapes, this podcast educates and entertains listeners, creating a space where the beauty and significance of acoustics are celebrated.

Honorable mentions go to the Listen Lab video, What should Ant-Man’s voice sound like when he changes size?, created by Matthew Winn and the documentary, Fathom, directed by Drew Xanthopoulos and featuring Ellen Garland and Michelle Fournet.

Long Form Print Winner
David George Haskell’s Sounds Wild and Broken: Sonic Marvels, Evolution’s Creativity, and The Crisis of Sensory Extinction emerges as a thought-provoking exploration of the intricate relationship between sound, nature, and human existence. Haskell masterfully weaves together scientific research, personal anecdotes, and philosophical reflections to highlight the urgency of preserving our sonic ecosystems. With eloquence and depth, this book challenges readers to reconsider their relationship with sound and the natural world.

Honorable mentions go to Karen Bakker’s The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technology Is Bringing Us Closer to the Worlds of Animals and Plants and Nina Kraus’ Of Sound Mind, How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World.

Short Form Print Winner
Ute Eberle’s captivating Knowable Magazine article, “Life in the Soil Was Thought to Be Silent. What If It Isn’t?,” shines a light on the often-overlooked acoustic richness beneath our feet. Eberle’s insightful exploration uncovers the hidden symphony of the soil, revealing the vital role sound plays in the ecosystem. Through her meticulous research and engaging prose, Eberle challenges preconceptions, opening a new realm of wonder and discovery.

Honorable mentions go to the Scientific American article, What Birds Really Listen for in Birdsong (It’s Not What You Think) by Adam Fishbein and Speaking in whistles by Bob Holmes, another Knowable Magazine article.

The 2023 award cycle reviewed content created between 2021 and 2022. A total of 73 nominations were received for the ASA Science Communication Awards, showcasing the breadth and depth of acoustics communication endeavors. The ASA extends its congratulations to the winners and honorable mentions for their exceptional contributions to acoustics communication. These projects have successfully bridged the gap between complex scientific concepts and the public, fostering a greater understanding and appreciation for the fascinating world of acoustics. The next award cycle will review content created between 2023 and 2024, with the call for nominations in the spring of 2025.

———————– MORE INFORMATION ———————–
The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its worldwide membership represents 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), JASA Express Letters, Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics, Acoustics Today magazine, and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. See