Celebrating Women’s History Month with ASA Gold Medalists

ASA Gold Medal - women's history monthMarch is Women’s History Month, a time to highlight the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. In recognition of Women’s History Month, let’s turn our spotlight to the remarkable women who have been honored with the prestigious ASA Gold Medal, awarded by the Society for exceptional contributions to acoustics.

ASA Gold Medalists

Dr. Katherine S. Harris

In 2007, Dr. Katherine Harris received the Gold Medal for pioneering research and leadership in speech production and dedicated service to the Society. Beyond her scientific achievements, Dr. Harris’ global leadership in speech science has served as an inspiration to the next generation of researchers. Dive deeper into Dr. Harris’ remarkable journey in this enlightening encomium, and explore a selection of her noteworthy ASA publications:

H. Betty Kollia, Vincent L. Gracco, Katherine S. Harris; Articulatory organization of mandibular, labial, and velar movements during speech. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 September 1995; 98 (3): 1313–1324. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.413468


Susan Nittrouer, Kevin Munhall, J. A. Scott Kelso, Betty Tuller, Katherine S. Harris; Patterns of interarticulator phasing and their relation to linguistic structure. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 November 1988; 84 (5): 1653–1661. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.397180


Fredericka Bell‐Berti, Katherine S. Harris; Anticipatory coarticulation: Some implications from a study of lip rounding. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 May 1979; 65 (5): 1268–1270. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.382794

Women's History Month - Katherine Harris

Past ASA President Anthony Atchley (R) presents the Gold Medal to Katherine Harris (L). Photo by Kenny Crookston. Image source: https://doi.org/10.1121/1.2776667

Dr. Patricia K. Kuhl

In 2008, Dr. Patricia K. Kuhl received the ASA Gold Medal for contributions to understanding how children acquire spoken language and for leadership in the Society. She made history as the first female ASA President in 1999. Through her commitment to science, she continues to inspire and shape the ASA landscape. Gain insights into Dr. Kuhl’s experiences in this interview and peruse some of her ASA publications:

Fernando Llanos, T. Christina Zhao, Patricia K. Kuhl, Bharath Chandrasekaran; The emergence of idiosyncratic patterns in the frequency-following response during the first year of life. JASA Express Lett. 1 May 2022; 2 (5): 054401. https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0010493


Patricia K. Kuhl, Andrew N. Meltzoff; Infant vocalizations in response to speech: Vocal imitation and developmental change. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 October 1996; 100 (4): 2425–2438. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.417951


Paul Iverson, Patricia K. Kuhl; Mapping the perceptual magnet effect for speech using signal detection theory and multidimensional scaling. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 January 1995; 97 (1): 553–562. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.412280

Women's History Month - Patricia Kuhl

Past ASA President Gilles Daigle (R) presents the Gold Medal to Patricia K. Kuhl (L). Image source https://doi.org/10.1121/1.3005559

Dr. Judy R. Dubno

In 2020, Dr. Judy R. Dubno received the ASA Gold Medal for contributions to understanding age-related hearing loss and for leadership in the acoustics community. In her extensive involvement with the ASA, including serving as President and Treasurer, Dr. Dubno’s efficiency, knowledge, and dedication have been exemplary. Discover more about Dr. Dubno’s journey in this encomium and explore some of her ASA publications featured below:

Daniel Fogerty, Judy R. Dubno, Valeriy Shafiro; Perception of interrupted speech and text: Listener and modality factors. JASA Express Lett. 1 June 2022; 2 (6): 064402. https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0011571


Ning-ji He, John H. Mills, Judy R. Dubno; Frequency modulation detection: Effects of age, psychophysical method, and modulation waveform. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 July 2007; 122 (1): 467–477. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.2741208


Marjorie R. Leek, Judy R. Dubno, Ning-ji He, Jayne B. Ahlstrom; Experience with a yes–no single-interval maximum-likelihood procedure. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 May 2000; 107 (5): 2674–2684. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.428653

Women's History Month - Judy Dubno

Judy R. Dubno. Image source: https://doi.org/10.1121/1.5147426

In celebrating these remarkable women during Women’s History Month, we not only honor their individual achievements but also acknowledge the collective impact of women in shaping the field of acoustics. Their contributions serve as an inspiration for current and future generations, illustrating the vital role women play in advancing our understanding of acoustics.

Spotlight on Women’s Voices in Acoustics Today

Women's Voices Alex Tolstoy

Acoustics Today (AT) articles have been written by women, but Volume 14, Issue 3 was special because it was the first issue where all the senior authors were women. One of the founders of the ASA Women in Acoustics (WIA) Committee, Alex Tolstoy, painted the cover artwork to accompany her co-authored article “In Her Own Words: An Acoustic Story.” Pictures of each of the senior authors from the issue can be found within the painting. In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s look at some AT articles featuring women’s voices and that have been published since.

Women's Voices Allison B. Coffin

First up is Allison B. Coffin, author of “Communicate Your Science: Engaging Public Audiences with Acoustics.” Allison is an associate professor of neuroscience at Washington State University Vancouver. Her research interests include cell signaling regulation of hearing loss and regeneration and hormonal modulation of auditory plasticity. She is a passionate science communicator and communication trainer and cofounded Science Talk, the science communication professional society, where she serves as the president.

Women's Voices Bonnie K. Lau

Next is Bonnie K. Lau, the author of “Pitch Perception in a Developing Auditory Brain.” She is a research assistant professor at the University of Washington (Seattle). Her research investigates auditory brain and perceptual development and how that relates to language acquisition. She combines neurophysiological measures, including electroencephalography and magnetoencephalography, psychophysics, and clinical assessment methods, in her research. Bonnie is a member of the WIA Committee as well as the Psychological and Physiological Technical Committee of the ASA.

Women's Voices Delilah E. A. Gates

Then we have Delilah E. A. Gates, author of “The ‘Sounds’ of Black Holes.” Delilah is an associate research scholar at Princeton University. She is a theoretical physicist whose research focuses on studying observational signatures of spinning black holes by leveraging features of the space-time geometry and lensing of light around them. Outside of physics, Delilah enjoys poetry, board/card games, and decorating cakes.

Women's Voices Meaghan A. O’Reilly

Last, but not least, is Meaghan A. O’Reilly, author of “Incisionless Brain Surgery: Overcoming the Skull with Focused Ultrasound.” Meaghan is a senior scientist in Physical Sciences at Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto, an associate professor of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto, and the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Ultrasound. Her research interests include ultrasound therapy in the central nervous system, with a focus on delivery, monitoring, and control of microbubble-mediated therapies in the brain and spinal cord through the intact bone.

Celebrate the collective achievements of extraordinary women in acoustics and discover more articles written by WIA committee members on the AT Collections page at https://acousticstoday.org/at-collections-women-in-acoustics/. For a deeper dive into the WIA committee, visit womeninacoustics.org.

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: Speech research methods and gender-diverse speakers

Traditionally, speech researchers have asked participants to classify speakers on a binary scale for gender. However, as our understanding of gender changes, so must our research methods. In this episode, we talk to Brandon Merritt (University of Texas – El Paso) about their research into updating research protocols to better encompass a diversity of genders and gain a more nuanced understanding of listeners’ perception of speakers’ identity.

Celebrating Diversity in Acoustics: Select JASA Articles Free to Read for Black History Month

Black History Month publications

Acoustics is a field that thrives on diverse perspectives, and the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is steadfast in its commitment to fostering inclusivity. In alignment with this vision, the ASA asserts that everyone, regardless of their racial identity, ethnic background, gender, age, disability, religion, or national origin, deserves equal opportunities in the realm of acoustics, including access to published research. As a celebration of Black History Month, the ASA Publications Office is making select JASA articles authored by Minority/James West Fellows free to read throughout the month of February. ASA established a Minority Fellowship in 1992 with the goal of supporting minority students in their pursuit of graduate-level degrees in acoustics. The fellowship was renamed the James E. West Fellowship in 2018.



These articles not only contribute valuable insights to acoustical research, but also highlight the exceptional accomplishments of Minority/James West Fellows. The ASA looks forward to fostering continued inclusivity, collaboration, and dialogue within the acoustics community beyond Black History Month. Help us highlight the voices of black acousticians!