William Yost

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ORAL HISTORIES
William Yost

Credit: Arizona State University, College of Health Solutions

Interviewed by
William K. Hartmann
Interview date
Location
San Diego, California
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Interview of William Yost by William Hartmann on December 2, 2019,Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics,College Park, MD USA,www.aip.org/history-programs/niels-bohr-library/oral-histories/XXXX

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In this interview, William Hartmann of the Acoustical Society of American interviews William Yost, Research Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences at Arizona State University. Yost discusses his graduate work on signal detection at Indiana University, the development of his Fundamentals of Hearing textbook, co-authored with Donald Nielson, and his early research into noise control at the University of Florida. Yost describes his activities with the Acoustical Society of America, his efforts to promote hearing science at NIH and NSF, and the ASA’s relationship with the Association for Research in Otolaryngology. The interview concludes with a discussion of Yost’s research into modulation detection interference and his move to his current position at Arizona State University.

Transcript

Hartmann:

My name is William Hartmann, and today’s date is the second of December 2019. We are at the Del. We’re at the Del Coronado near San Diego, California, and the time is… Oh, it’s something about 2:00. I’m about to interview William A. Yost for the Acoustical Society of America Technical Committee on Physiological and Psychological Acoustics. So this says I’m supposed to stop and rewind, but I don't think I will. I’ll just put this recorder somewhere where we hope that both people can be heard here.

So I’ll start with questions for Dr. Yost, and I think in the interest of time, I’d like to start with his graduate student career at the University of Indiana. Bill, is there something that stands out in your career as a psychoacoustician at Indiana?

Yost:

Yeah. I went to Indiana University. They had a program in math psychology, and I had been a psychology math person as an undergraduate. I got a minor in math and my major was in psych, and so that seemed like a fit. But more importantly, I had two faculty members as an undergraduate who both had graduated relatively recently from IU, so it wasn’t that unusual that I wound up at IU in the math psych program. I didn't have any particular interest other than wanting to sort of use mathematical skills to study behavior. I thought that would be useful.

I was originally assigned to someone who did Bayesian statistics and I didn't find that all that stimulating. But I constantly ran across a whole bunch of people, especially at the bar everyone frequented called Nick’s, that were all into this new theory at the time called the theory of signal detection and the use of hearing to test many of the properties of the theory of signal detection. They were a very lively group and made the whole topic of their interest in the theory and their interest in hearing very exciting to me.

That’s what I wanted to do, and I thought that I would wind up very quickly working in Dr. Jim Egan’s lab. But Jim left IU before that could happen, and many people… A couple other faculty members also left the department. There was quite a turmoil. Nothing wrong with the department. These faculty members who left, left for independent, idiosyncratic reasons. I didn't want to leave the department like many of my graduate student colleagues did, so I stuck around and started working in the laboratory with Don Robinson. We worked on things related to the theory of signal detection, but the other topic of great interest at that time was a relatively strong interest in a phenomena that at that time was about 15 years old called the masking level difference, a very large effect, and that wound up being the topic of my dissertation.

Hartmann:

So you were an experimentalist, and of course you used laboratory equipment. Can you describe what the laboratory was like and what you used? Were you computerized at the time?

Yost:

Not quite. Back in those days, many labs, including Jim Egan’s lab and the lab that I had left as an undergraduate, had just used this technology of digital components—AND gates and OR gates and flip-flops—to control sounds from oscillators and noise generators, not to generate sound, but as control apparatus. When Jim Egan left Indiana University, he turned over a lot of his equipment to Don, helping Don Robinson, the person I was going to work with, get his lab established. I remember very, very clearly on a Friday afternoon. We’re sitting in Nick’s and Don is explaining that he got all these digibits, all these AND gates and OR gates and flip-flops and things, and that maybe the following weekend I could come and work with him and we could redo his lab with these components as being an integral part of the lab. Since I had some experience having done that as undergraduate, I felt very comfortable as did Don that we’d be able to proceed quite quickly and get this lab up and running.

Well, we ran into all sorts of problems. We chased all sorts of superstitions as to why things weren't working. Finally we gave up. We took the components down to the electronics shop in the department and said, “Help us. We can't make this work.” Within about two minutes, the guy said, “Of course it doesn't work. They’re all shorted out.” So we got new AND gates and OR gates, new digibits and very quickly got the lab up and running, and that’s how we controlled the lab up through my dissertation. We did not have a computer at that time.

A couple other labs in the department got PDP-8s from Digital Equipment Corporation, and so I learned to use them. When I started as a graduate student, they allowed one to take Fortran as a foreign language, so I had learned some coding by that time. When I entered my post-doc, Dave Green had a highly computerized lab, a much larger Digital Equipment Corporation machine, the PDP-15, that I did all my work on. So as a graduate student, I didn't quite make it to the computer age in the lab, but I was beginning to gain a little bit of computer savvy and coding savvy as a graduate student at IU.

Hartmann:

Did you use TDH39 headphones when you did this?

Yost:

Yes. That was the headphone. A large amount of effort making sure they were correctly calibrated every day. Before we’d run, we’d calibrate them with the classic 6 cc coupler and the B&K sound level meter.

Hartmann:

When you had these digibits, how did you do timing? What was the time base for this system?

Yost:

Well, there was a gross time base, very gross, which was paper tape as the paper tape would click along and hit holes that would send code. But that was very coarse timing. There were timers. There were programmable timers that were part of the lab.

Hartmann:

In Robinson’s lab?

Yost:

Yeah, right. So you would program like a so-called two-interval forced choice experiment where you had two sounds come on one after the other with some delay, and then there would be, in this case, a set pause during which a subject should respond. That response would be like a button push on some apparatus that could be recorded. These days we let the subject respond at his own pace. In those days, the timing had to be preordained, so they had to respond within a particular time interval, 2 or 3 seconds. If he or she didn't respond, then you had to stop and start over again. [Chuckles]

Hartmann:

So as you describe it, your approach to research was this. You were really interested in mathematical psychology and perception, say. Hearing and acoustics was sort of a means to do that, to do signal detection. So you continued to stay in that, in acoustics.

Yost:

Yes.

Hartmann:

How did that happen?

Yost:

Well, clearly very early on, the lab’s interest and the other people who were associated with Jim Egan and all of that, hearing wasn’t really the focus. The theory of signal detection was the focus. It’s just that acoustic waveforms provided a really neat way to test many of the assumptions and many of the predictions of the theory, so we wound up using sound and listening to sound as a way to ferret out aspects of the theory. But at the same time, there was this strong interest in this phenomena of masking level difference largely because it was such a large effect. The effects can be as much as 15 dB, and that’s a major difference in auditory perception to get something where you change the sound and your performance would change by the equivalent of 15 dB. That’s what I wound up doing my dissertation on, but my dissertation was really an attempt to test two different theories of the masking level difference—one a theory of Nat Durlach’s called equalization and cancellation model, which was kind of a signal detection model, but not exactly, and then a more general model having to do with interaural differences. That’s what my dissertation was about.

Then I went and did a post-doc with Dave Green and learned a lot more about hearing as well, not so much-- By that time, Dave’s interests were not so much on the theory of signal detection, and the group of post-docs and graduate students that I interacted with in Dave’s labs also were not that much interested in the theory, per se. They certainly used aspects of it all the time. They were interested in aspects of hearing, and I began to learn from them. Went to Acoustical Society of America meetings and read the journal and learned about hearing. So after my year or so in Dave’s lab as a post-doc, I was really more into the hearing world than I was in the signal detection world. Then I got my first job at the University of Florida in the Speech and Hearing Department, and that really cemented my contact with hearing.

Hartmann:

Let me just make sure that this thing is recording. The little light is flashing, which looks good. I do think it’s still recording. It says we’ve been at it for 11 minutes and 38 seconds.

Yost:

Seems fine.

Hartmann:

So I do think everything is fine. The recording is doing fine. Let me put it over here. Sorry about that. If you're listening to this, you just heard the fact that this recorder is in a glass. Okay. Yeah. When you were at UCSD, you were with an all-star cast of people.

Yost:

Yeah. Dave Green was a magnet. There was a group of post-docs and graduate students, some of whom were there just as I arrived and then left and then others who…one more who arrived about the same time I did and then several who stayed on a little bit more than the year that I was there. So yeah, it was quite a group.

Going back to IU just very briefly, one of the good, nice things about being at IU with people like Jim Egan and then Don Robinson, Don got his degree with Lloyd Jeffress, a very well-respected person. A lot of people who had a huge impact on that field came through Indiana. William Tanner (Spike Tanner), Birdsall, Dave Green were all on campus at one time or another to interact with the graduate students, so I really had a good foundational introduction to the theory of signal detection and the people who were responsible for developing it.

Hartmann:

So you stayed at UCSD for an amazingly short post-doc experience. It was about a year.

Yost:

Yeah.

Hartmann:

Your text here says that you were concerned about the job market closing. Is that…?

Yost:

Well, yeah… My recollection was that as I was thinking about a career as a faculty-type person, as an undergraduate getting my PhD and then winding up in academics, it sort of seemed as if it were a given that if you got a PhD from a decent university, you had a job somewhere on a faculty. Depending what university you might be at might be somewhat based on how well you did or what school you were at and whether you published and who you worked with, those sorts of things. But there didn't seem to be much issue that you would wind up with a job as a faculty member someplace. But by the time I got halfway through my post-doc, that was beginning to be not quite so certain.

So I had the opportunity to renew my post-doc for a second year, but I also thought I should try the job market. I very quickly got a couple job offers, and in talking with Dave, getting his advice, and my mentor Don Robinson, we decided it would probably be a good idea to take one of the two job offers that I got. One was more of a teaching-type job at Boston College and the other was an entirely research job, actually a soft money job, a grant-supported job, at the University of Florida. I had met a couple of the people already that I would be working with, Don Teas and Don Nielsen, and found them very, very great people that I thought I would enjoy working with, so that’s the job I took.

I remember a little anecdote where a bunch of us graduate students and post-docs one morning over coffee in the little coffee room at UCSD in Dave’s lab were worrying about the job market and talking about all of this. We didn't realize that Dr. Green was standing right outside the door as we were having this conversation until he couldn't take it anymore, I think, and he sort of jumped into the room slightly red-faced, yelling at us to stop all this nonsense. “There’s nothing you can do about the job market. The only thing you can do is to be a good scientist and publish, so get out of here and go publish!” Well, in the next eight months, 12 publications came out of the six of us. [Laughs] So we listened.

Hartmann:

Including the thing that’s Yost, Wightman, and Green, right?

Yost:

Correct.

Hartmann:

I guess it was Yost… Wightman, Yost, and Green.

Yost:

Yost, Wightman, and Green. This was the paper that I went… My wife and I went to UCSD early in the spring of 1970 before my post-doc was to formally begin. I still was a teaching associate at IU and had responsibilities, but I got out of those for about ten days. We went to UCSD and spent about ten days there, and I interacted with the students and post-docs then and with Dave. At that point, Dave said, “Fred Wightman started a project that he’s not going to be able to finish because he’s going to be leaving very soon to go to the Netherlands to do a post-doc. Do you want to take that project over?” I said, “Sure. What is it?” [Chuckles] It was this lateralization of high frequency clicks, and so I took that over pretty early. Fred hadn't done very much because indeed, he was very, very busy finishing up and getting ready to go to the Netherlands. So eventually that got published as Yost, Wightman, and Green.

Hartmann:

Yeah. Also, you wrote a review article with Dave at that time.

Yost:

Yeah. Dave came to me one day and… Well, when I got there, the group didn't know a lot about the MLD (the masking level difference), so when you worked—as you know because you were in Dave’s lab at one time—in Dave’s lab, Dave would have what usually were called GRG meetings, Green’s Research Group meetings. Quite often, one of the post-docs or graduate students would give a talk on some topic, not necessarily a journal club type talk, but sometimes that was it.

Pretty early when I was there, Dave asked me to give a talk to everyone about what the masking level difference was all about, and I happened to make a point at that that it wasn’t just about localization. I used Durlach’s equalization-cancellation model as my example that that model doesn't necessarily say anything about localization. You could extract a signal out of noise by subtracting the inputs to the two ears in an appropriate way and revealing the signal, so to speak. So it really wasn’t about localization, per se. Dave picked up on that. He agreed with me that that was sort of an important idea about the MLD.

Several months later he approached me and said he had been asked to write a review chapter on binaural hearing for a book that Dewey Neff was coauthor of. Would I mind… Would I be willing to coauthor that chapter with him? Dave said he wanted to pick up on the theme that we had talked about at GRG about the masking level difference not being necessarily all about localization. He wanted to call the chapter “Binaural Analysis” that you did an analysis of the input to the two ears, not necessarily having anything to do with localization and that sort of thing. That was sort of the theme of the chapter, although it was more of a review of masking level difference and some other things having to do with presenting sounds all over headphones, not sound field work like you and I do these days. Yeah, that came out. That was the first thing that actually, I think, got published. No, the second thing. Yost, Wightman, and Green got published first. It was a great learning experience co-writing something with Dave. That was quite good.

Hartmann:

Yeah, I would think that would be.

Yost:

And then Larry Feth and Lynn Penner and I also did a study that got published based on work we did during that time.

Hartmann:

So you weren't there very long, but you certainly had a very productive year at UCSD.

Yost:

Well, with the group I was with, you were going to be productive one way or another. [Chuckling] That was a pretty dynamic group of people.

Hartmann:

Yeah, it seems that way. That included Fred and Feth, right?

Yost:

Larry Feth. Larry was my officemate.

Hartmann:

Patterson?

Yost:

Then there was Lynn Penner who was actually a student of Bill McGill’s but did her research in Dave’s lab because McGill was chancellor of the university. Sharon Abel, someone from Canada, University of Toronto. Roy Patterson was finishing up at that time in the lab. His wife was not in Dave’s lab, but his wife was also getting her PhD at UCSD. So it was a good group of people. Like Dom Massaro, Don Ronken, and others had just left as I was coming through the front door. Barry Leshowitz was there for a few months when I started. So it was a good group.

Hartmann:

So at Florida, you met Don Nielsen and I guess that was there the origin of Yost and Nielsen.

Yost:

Yes.

Hartmann:

What inspired Yost and Nielsen?

Yost:

So I’m completely grant-funded, working in an institute associated with the Speech and Hearing Department, but also heavily associated with an institute called Communication Sciences and Disorders. Don Teas was in charge of the hearing division. There were two main divisions; there was hearing and speech, and Don was in charge of the hearing division. Don Nielsen was sort of a post-doc, visiting faculty person. He didn't have a tenure-track job. He didn't exactly have the same position I did. It was a little bit more post-doc, but heavily grant-funded.

I replaced someone and in the interim, Don took over teaching the fundamentals of hearing course to the master’s audiology students. Then when I came, that was going to be one of my responsibilities, and so literally I said, “Okay, fine. I’ll do that. What textbook do you use? I’ll study it and I can probably stay one step ahead of the students and maybe teach them something.” Everyone pointed out that there actually wasn’t a textbook, that the ones that had been used—Stevens and Davis and Ira Hirsh’s book—were both now out of press. Don said yeah, he ran into the same problem, but I was certainly free to use his notes if I wanted to. But they weren't very thorough, so I developed my own notes combined with Don’s, and one day over lunch we looked at each other and said, “Hell, this is a book!” So we tried to get it published as a book and were successful.

What made it particularly fun was that Don had a very good friend, Ivan Hunter Duvar, who was an anatomist in Canada. They had both gotten their PhDs in Don Elliot’s lab at Wayne State. Ivan had gone over to Sweden to the Karolinska Institutet to learn scanning electron microscopy, which was a brand-new technique at that time and just barely being applied to biology and never really had been applied to hearing except at the institute in Sweden. Ivan had returned and had gotten a microscope at Toronto and was taking SEM photographs of anything he could day and night, so he had this huge library of SEM photographs and didn't know what to do with them because they really weren't addressing any particular research problem, although a couple of them did. We thought, “Wonderful! These are perfect pictures for a textbook,” because there’s a three-dimensional view of what you would normally see on a flat photomicrograph, which is pretty uninteresting, and these SEMs were quite spectacularly different at that time. So we flooded the book with as many of these as we could. That sort of made the book unusual because it was really one of the very first times anyone in the field, whether you were a student or a veteran, ever saw SEM photographs to the extent that it was in this little textbook.

Hartmann:

Yeah. Maybe this is a time to carry on with the history of the Fundamentals of Hearing book. You care to add to that? It’s got a long history and many, many citations.

Yost:

Yeah. Well, we worked on it for a couple years. We had a wonderful editor at Holt, Rinehart and Winston and he had this wonderful idea and he was very energetic of expanding his series. He had already talked to this guy called Brian Moore who was working on a book called The Psychology of Hearing. That came out very shortly afterwards, and then a year or so later, a guy in Australia, Jim Pickles, came out with a book that the editor of Holt, Rinehart and Winston got under his umbrella, The Physiology of Hearing.

So there were these three books that we tried… He, the editor in the three main books, tried to market it as a group, and then right as that was starting to take off, the editor left Holt, Rinehart and Winston. A new editor came in who knew nothing about the field; didn't seem to have much interest in what we were doing. This project where all of us were going to be involved was sort of growing a real group of books having to do with hearing. We had all sorts of ideas—speech and hearing and language and people that all of us were going to see if others might be interested in writing books. That all died.

Then over the years, I think the book has had seven different publishers. We’ve gone from one publishing house to another to another to another. One house buys another, merges with another, whatever. The book never really found a home within a publishing house, but the three books stayed together. Our book, Fundamentals of Hearing: An Introduction… At one point I was given… I was asked… By this time the publisher was Academic Press. Academic Press asked me if I would like out of our contract. I really did. I wanted to try to market this, find some publisher on my own who was really going to be dedicated to the book, so I was very willing to give up the contract. But in order to do so, Don Nielsen had to agree to also do it, and he decided, because he had just taken over a very important job at the House Ear Institute, that he really didn't have time. So he wanted no longer to be associated with the book. So it took a little bit of time to negotiate that, and then I became the sole author of that.

The story was funny. I finally called Academic Press and I said, “All right. I’ve got everything signed, notarized. Don is taken care of. I think we’re done.” She says, “Yep. I’ll send you the final paperwork, but we’re done.” I hang up and literally five minutes later I get a phone call from a woman at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich asking me if I would be interested in doing a book on hearing for them. I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me! I just got off the phone…”—I can’t remembered the woman’s name—“with this woman because I had a book with Academic Press that I just got out of the contract with!” The woman starts laughing. She said, “Oh, you don't know. Harcourt just bought a whole bunch of books of Academic Press including yours. So what I’m asking is, would you be willing for us to take over as the publisher of your book?” She seemed like she had a real interest, and the Moore book, the Pickles book, and another book that had come out since then were all things she was very interested in marketing. So I said yes. I signed on with them. Three months later she quits and the new person comes in, doesn't have that same interest, and we’re off again in the same mess.

Hartmann:

[Chuckles] Still, the book has done very well.

Yost:

It’s done very well, yeah.

Hartmann:

So how many editions are there actually?

Yost:

There are five editions. There’s not going to be anymore. I have a whole different idea. If—and I don't think I ever will. If I were to go back and do something like that, I would do it very differently based on some new ideas I have. I would not try to publish a book like that. I’m not a big fan of having students have to pay obscene amounts of money for things these days that they can get off of PDFs pretty easily.

Hartmann:

Mmm. Yeah, that’s an attitude that’s shared by a lot of people. I’m just going to check to make sure this is still recording and everything is fine. It says now we’ve been at it exactly half an hour. Just as I flipped this over it passed the 30-minute mark. Well, all right. That’s 30 minutes. It goes back in the glass and in between the two of us.

So now you're at Florida, and let’s see. Was it Florida that you started to do this work on rippled noise? No?

Yost:

Yeah. Let me tell you another story that was a lot of fun. The story is fun. I mean I had fun, but the story is more fun than anything else. I’m at Florida about five months and my phone rings—I’m still getting acquainted—on a late Friday afternoon. It’s the mayor of the city of Gainesville, someone of some fame because he was the first black mayor of Gainesville and a black mayor in the South at that time was somewhat unusual. It turns out that the person I had kind of replaced (not exactly) three years prior to my arriving had tried to get the city to embrace some sort of performance noise ordinance, a noise ordinance based on noise measurements and sound level meters and stuff. It had failed and the mayor wanted to do this again. The mayor had been motivated because the Noise Control Act of 1972 was in the press a lot, about ready to come up for a vote, and he thought this would be a good thing for the city of Gainesville to get involved with, sort of maybe make a little bit of national news.

Well, I said, “No way. I know nothing about noise. I’m, you know, a 25-, 26-year-old assistant professor barely knowing where anything is, so no. I can't be involved with this.” But he talked and he talked and he talked, and my understanding, when we left the conversation, was that I would try to find someone on campus who would be a good chair. If it turned out in the end that I could be of some use, and that this person I found that wound up being a chair and thought that was true, then I would be willing to be on the committee, but no way.

I go home over the weekend and talk to my wife about it, and by the end of the weekend I’ve decided nothing is going to get me to be chair of this committee. This is just stupid, completely not something that I want to do or can do or have the ability to do. Monday goes by and nothing happens and I’m thinking, “Okay. Maybe I’m sort of free from this.” Tuesday morning, same thing. About 1:00 Tuesday afternoon my wife calls and says, “Turn on the radio and go out and get a paper.” The paper was delivered in the afternoon. “Look at the lower right-hand corner of the third page, and listen to (whatever the radio station was).”

Well, I got the paper first because I didn't have a portable radio at the time. On the third page of the paper, the headline was “William A. Yost, University of Florida professor, to chair new noise ordinance committee.” Sort of welcome to the world of politics, Dr. Yost. I storm into the mayor’s office a day or two later, ranting and raving about how outrageous this was. He calmly sits there and says, “Well, you know, I would probably be mad if I were in your shoes too, but Dr. Yost, you really think you can back out of this now? I mean that wouldn't look very good. Besides that, you're going to meet a lot of wonderful people on the committee and interacting with all this, and you know what, Dr. Yost? You might be able to do something good for your new community.” [Laughter]

Hartmann:

Sounds like a persuasive guy!

Yost:

He was a good politician. So I wound up chairing this committee and he was right on all counts. [Laughs]

Hartmann:

What did you do?

Yost:

I learned a lot. I met great people. We got the ordinance passed. The Noise Control Act passes. I get EPA money. I get state money. I get local money. I’ve got my own grants. I’ve got these other grants. I have lots of resources, and the noise pollution money really puts me over the top in terms of having a decent staff and everything. So that gets me involved… When we get to talking about ASA stuff, that provided an entre for me into ASA, which we can talk about later. So indeed, that was a big part of what I did, but I really didn't do… I administered the things we were doing. There were surveys. We had a whole bunch of stations set up along the highways in Florida. Students and techs gathered the data. I was part of a center that had two physicists that I worked with, and together we sort of wrote this stuff up. We didn't publish things very much. They were more tech reports for EPA and things like that. I gave a couple talks at ASA, a couple talks at some environmental meetings that met in Florida down in Miami. So I stayed active, but much more in a sort of contract kind of mode than a grant or paper kind of mode.

Hartmann:

Hmm. Anything else stand out about your career in Florida?

Yost:

Well, you asked about iterated ripple noise. Actually, iterated ripple noise started when I was a post-doc. There’s a phenomena… So in vision, there was a huge amount of attention paid to people like Hubel and Wiesel who won a Nobel Prize, I think in ’66 or ’67, for their work. There are these columns of cells in the visual cortex that are responsive to lines of particular directions. Then they get combined into cells that are particularly sensitive to squares of particular types, etc., etc. So there was sort of this emerging idea that these cells that started out simple with lines and then became squares would then slowly but surely build into things like faces. But that seemed like an awful complex mechanism to do the kind of visual face recognition, object recognition, and the joke was that sort of meant there must be a grandmother cell, or if you studied monkeys, there must be a banana cell someplace. That sort of stalled this idea of how you would do object recognition and vision.

Then came along this idea of spatial frequency, linear systems approach to spatial frequency—so-called sine wave gratings where you would present a sinusoidal varying contrast and luminance over space. That could be sort of like a sine wave in sound, sort of the kernel, a basic stimulus from which you could then build more complex patterns out of sine waves. That had been around for a few years, but really hadn’t quite taken off. A guy named Bob Barlow at Woods Hole did a lot of it. A guy came to San Diego by the name of Tom Cornsweet and gave a talk on all of this, and it just captured our imagination enormously because we knew linear systems. We knew the general concept, and we didn't think about it in the space domain. We only thought about it in the time frequency domain.

So we had Tom come the next day and talk to us at GRG about all this, and we literally were just asking him question after question after question. He said, “You know, I don't know why you just don't go study this in hearing. If you think about it, when you have sinusoidal varying contrast over space, that means there’s some sort of variation across the retina. So you have sinusoidal variation in neural space. That’s what the basilar membrane does, so the only thing you need is a stimulus to sinusoidally vary in frequency.” Okay? We immediately started thinking about it and thought there was a way we could generate such a sound.

The next day, Larry Feth, who had been an engineering undergraduate, comes in and says, “You know what? I was pretty sure I remember this from my engineering training. He’s basically describing a comb filter,” okay? So we looked at the comb filter and realized that we could make a simple version of a comb filter by adding and delaying a noise, and we’d get a cosinusoidal relationship between amplitude and frequency. The power that we saw of what Tom Cornsweet had been talking about is the ability to use these sine wave gratings to study lateral inhibition in the retina. There’s a lateral inhibitory network in the retina that sharpens up contrast, and we thought maybe we could use this to see if there was a parallel mechanism, an analogous mechanism in the auditory system. So we wanted to use ripple noise to try to study lateral inhibition in the auditory system.

By the time I left, and Larry left San Diego at the same time, this project was ongoing. So Larry had set up his lab at Mississippi State; I set up my lab at Florida to sort of work on this. Dave was still doing a little bit of it, not much, back at San Diego. We were going along. We presented one paper at ASHA and we had a paper we were going to present at ASA when we got word that Tamo Houtgast in the Netherlands was using ripple noise in a totally different way to study exactly what we were studying—completely independent thought—lateral inhibition in the auditory system. His technique was way more elegant, way better than anything we had thought about, so we abandoned our work on that. But I was intrigued by the pitch that the sound generates and the fact that you can easily control how salient that pitch is all the way from no pitch of a noise to something that almost sounded like a tone—at least I thought so at the time. So I stayed with ripple noise in the pitch domain, not in the lateral inhibition domain, especially looking at pitch strength. That’s how I got into it.

Then I went to an international meeting. Again got reintroduced to the comb filter. I’d sort of forgotten about the comb filter. I went back home and tried to unravel the comb filter mathematics and realized that in a digital form, you could just iterate (add-delay, add-delay). You probably don't remember this, but I got stuck at one point. I wasn’t sure that I’d actually solved the particular equation. I sent it to you and you said yes. The next thing I know, you had taken off and included a lot of this in your book, okay?

Hartmann:

[Laughs]

Yost:

No, you didn't steal anything. I’m not accusing you of that at all. I thought you had a much better way of talking about things than our add-delay, add-same, and add…

Hartmann:

Same add…yeah. That’s true.

Yost:

So you very eloquently laid out the mathematics, and in fact, I had not made a mistake. I had it right. It gave me great confidence. So that led to iterated ripple noise. So at that time, early on I had the stimulus, but I didn't know what to do with it. I tried to publish a letter to the editor based on a pretty lame experiment, and the reviewers let me know how lame it really was. It wasn’t until several years later when Roy Patterson had developed what he then called the pulse ribbon model for pitch. He had a front end to that model that I thought ripple noise would be a good way to test that front end, and asked him if he had used ripple noise, the single add and delay. He kept saying, a few meetings in a row, “No, but it’s going to work. It’s not worth doing. It’s not worth doing.”

Finally I had the opportunity to take a little leave and I said, “I’m coming over and I’m bringing some code,” which was the iterated ripple noise code, because I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to work. I thought iterated ripple noise might work with this model, but I didn't have the ability to actually program the model anywhere near to the extent that Roy could. So I went over. We tried ripple noise. I was right; it didn't work. But by the time we got to about four iterations of ripple noise, it started to work and by six iterations the front end worked very well. So immediately Roy was hooked and Roy and I set off and did a whole bunch of studies. Roy once said he thought we had stumbled into a little cottage industry on iterated ripple noise. [Chuckles]

Hartmann:

Yes. Yes, you did. Well, that started back then. Before we leave your career in Florida, anything else to say about…?

Yost:

No. I’m so indebted to all the mentoring and assistance Don Teas gave me. I had a non-tenured research job, which was not a big deal in those days at all. But Don thought maybe that wasn’t safe enough, and so he, all by himself… His appointment was… He was a full tenured professor in the Psychology Department with a joint appointment in speech and hearing science. His tenure was not joint, but he had a joint appointment and he ran the hearing division of this large center. He on his own went and got, secured a half-tenure position for me in psych, so I wound up having half my job in psych and half my job in speech and hearing science. Had a lab and an office over in the psych department on one side of campus and… I rarely used that lab; there wasn’t much to it. And then my major lab and another office over in speech and hearing science. That turned out to be important to have that. He was just a wonderful colleague. After my third year there, Don decided he didn't want to run the division—there were lots of reasons for that—and asked if I would be willing to take over. I said, “Sure,” and the powers that be accepted that. So I ran the hearing division for a few years before I left.

Hartmann:

And then you left and you went to Chicago.

Yost:

Right.

Hartmann:

You went to Parmly. Why?

Yost:

Well, I was very good friends for a long time with Terry Dolan. Terry was a post-doc, visiting faculty at Indiana when I was a graduate student, and there were quite a few very good people at Indiana as well—Dennis McFadden, a whole bunch of people at around the time I was there. Tino Trahiotis, Terry Dolan, a whole bunch of people.

So Terry and I were friends from very early on, from the mid ’60s, and we stayed in constant contact. He had left-- In fact, in 1969 he grabbed a bunch of us at IU and said, “Take a look at this. Take a look at this.” There was this ad in the back of JASA. “They’re looking for a director of a thing called the Parmly Hearing Institute at Loyola University in Chicago. Have you ever heard of that?” He was asking everyone and no one had heard of it. He says, “Well, I’m Catholic. I’m going to apply!” He applied and he got the job in ’69 to direct this Parmly Hearing Institute. It turned out that it was an endowment at Loyola, but Terry really didn't do much except use the endowment to run a lab. By 1976, ’77 he had decided that he really wanted to get into more serious administration. He had been appointed assistant dean of the graduate school and really liked that. He wound up taking a temporary job at National Science Foundation to run the program of Sensory Physiology and Perception. He really was getting very interested in research administration in an academic setting, and that’s what he wanted to do.

So he asked me if I might want to come to Loyola and take over directing the Parmly Hearing Institute. The fact that there was an endowment was an attraction, but I wasn’t really sure I wanted to leave University of Florida and go to Loyola University of Chicago, which didn't have a great deal of reputation in the things that I was interested in. Going from Gainesville to Chicago sounded very appealing. There wasn’t much in Gainesville and Chicago sounded like a much more exciting place. And I didn't have full tenure at Florida. The department was having a very acrimonious time finding a new chair and I didn't enjoy all the fighting in the Speech and Hearing Department. So there was a pull and push. Eventually I decided I’d take the offer—I won't go into any more detail—and I moved to Chicago with a clear statement clearly articulated in my appointment letter and everything else that I should try to develop a real institute based on the endowment, not just run a lab. So I went there with the intent of trying to use my own grant money, which I had several grants I could bring with me, and the endowment to work not only with people in the academic side of the university where I was housed, but also with the medical school and the hospital and develop a hearing institute.

Hartmann:

So who were the people that were there at Parmly, people that you hired? Who was the staff that you had over the years?

Yost:

Well, it was sort of a no-brainer, when I went there, how to start. The university had just hired the year before that I came Dick Fay as their physiological psychologist. Dick studied hearing in fish, but close enough. The year before Dick was hired, they hired a visual psychophysicist out of Columbia, Rich Bowen. So there were three of us in this small psychology department who studied sensory processing. So although it wasn’t all hearing, getting Rich and Dick and I to interact was sort of a no-brainer of how to get things going. We got along famously well. That happened really easily.

Bob Lutfi wanted to be a graduate student, start a PhD with me at Florida. I explained that I was leaving, and eventually he wound up coming with me or basically applying at Loyola and then working in the lab. So there were sort of four of us. Bob was a graduate student, me, Rich, and Dick. That started the whole thing. I tried to build a relationship with the medical school, but we got stymied by a) the worst winters in the history of Chicago that literally shut down the highway. We couldn't even get to the medical school more or less easily, and then the ENT program at the medical school ran into some challenges where their ENT fellowship program was shut down due to accreditation problems. So that never went anywhere. Then I ran into a whole bunch of challenges trying to get the psych department and the biology department to join in.

A very, very, very, very long story short, at the end of all of that, I wind up going to National Science Foundation to take over the Sensory Physiology and Perception program for a few years. For one year was my intent; I wound up doing it for two years. I came back from that realizing that we had a good thing going, Dick, and Rich, and I, and by that time I had hired Toby Dye, so there were really four of us now, and that we could probably build an institute on soft money. That’s how we built. The very first person we hired was a post-doc that was going to work with Dick and me in sort of hearing and hearing related to fish and to humans. Sheryl Coombs, who was an Art Popper student, she quickly developed a working relationship with a guy named John Jansen. They did a lot of lateral line work and so she took off on her own. Then we hired Stan Sheft and then Bill Shofner and then Andy Lotto and then a philosopher named J. D. Trout. So we had quite a group of people, some of them in departments. John New was hired in the biology department. So by the time of the late ’80s, there were 10 or 11 people associated with Parmly who had an interest, not necessarily doing, but had an interest in sensory sciences.

Hartmann:

Let’s talk a little bit about your history with the Acoustical Society because the story about your career at Parmly, at Loyola, and especially about your role as vice president of research and dean at the graduate school, is very well told in this long essay that you’ve written. That will be part of what will be provided to the society and the archives and history committee. Let’s talk a little bit about the society. So I’m looking at a very, very long list of activities, and I’m not sure where to begin, but maybe one place to begin is with your role in standards because frankly, it’s a little unusual for an academic to get involved with standards as you did. Did that begin with the noise work in Gainesville?

Yost:

Exactly. I remember very distinctly Dave Green-- I don't know if he was chair of P&P at that time, but I think he was. We were walking out. Anyway, I remember very, very clearly. We were walking out of a P&P meeting and he grabs me. This is well after I was a post-doc. I’m at Florida. He says, “You know, given your work on that noise ordinance, you might be interested in being the P&P representative on ASACOS (on the standards committee). I said, “What’s ASACOS?” and he explained everything. I said, “Oh, sure. Why not?” If Dave Green asks you to do something, you do it, you know?

I had no idea, anything about standards, and I quickly learned. I kind of enjoyed working on something that wasn’t research, but clearly had a societal impact. It was going to make a difference in society. I wasn’t sure my research ever would, but standards would, okay? I found that rewarding, and so I wound up eventually vice chairing and then chairing the S3 Bioacoustics Committee for six years and got very involved. Then that opened up other opportunities within the Acoustical Society for me to get involved, and I did. I wasn’t forced to. I didn't do it because I thought it would, you know, help my career in any way. I just did it because I enjoyed doing it and I got this feeling that I was making a difference.

Hartmann:

Let’s see. You were chair of the P&P Technical Committee from 1990 to 1993. Is there anything about your position as chair of--

Yost:

Well, that…yes. That was at a pivotal time. Up to that time, the heterogeneity across the society in TCs, about how TCs were run, was enormous, okay? P&P was the maverick group. We did things very loose, very much not like other TCs, and so the chairmanship was sort of passed from one person to another. Yes, there were rules about three-year terms, but there weren't formal elections. There wasn’t a formal process involved anywhere in the society. Now some TCs developed their own internal formal processes, but P&P never did. So I was asked to… I don't even remember who I replaced. Maybe it was Don Teas. But I was asked if I wouldn't be willing to be chair. I wasn’t elected or anything, and I said, “Sure.”

Well, almost simultaneous with that the Executive Council decided, “This is nonsense. We’re going to formalize the whole process for how TCs are done, who’s elected, who’s chair, blah, blah, blah, blah.” So literally the procedure we use today I wrote, okay? [Laughs] So the spring meeting where we have the ballots and then the TC itself elects the president through a process, blah, blah, blah, I wrote all that. Technically I was supposed to ask the TC committee for approval. They were supposed to approve it. Well, there really wasn’t a TC committee. If the chair wanted to do something and thought Bill Hartmann and X, Y, and Z would be helpful, you became the TC committee for that particular topic. So there wasn’t anyone to run this past, but I did run it past a few of the past TC chairs—Dave and Peter Dallos.

Hartmann:

Fred Wightman had been chair long about that time, too.

Yost:

Right. They all said, “Yeah, sure. Why not?” and that became the official protocol for moving forward from that time on. P&P was a very dynamic group at that time. The physiologists were still coming to the meeting, not like they did early on, but it was still somewhat active. A very active group of psychoacousticians. We interacted pretty well with Speech, a little bit with Noise. It was a fun time to be interacting with so many different people in my field.

Hartmann:

Yes. Then later on you were elected to the Executive Council.

Yost:

Right.

Hartmann:

You served on the Executive Council from 2000 to 2003.

Yost:

Right.

Hartmann:

I guess I was president then during part of that time. [Chuckles]

Yost:

Right. You were. Right. And then I immediately became vice president, and I actually think I had to give up a year of Executive Council to become vice president. I can't remember the details.

Hartmann:

Yeah, I think that’s right. You were vice president elected in 2002.

Yost:

Right. Again, a lot going on in the society, a lot of good people. You had preceded me. Ilene Busch-Vishniac was in there. There was a lot going on, and I had some things that I thought that I could add to the mix. I was very much interested in getting the Acoustical Society more involved in the public policy issues, but I ran against some roadblocks and people who weren't so sure that’s what we should be doing. I didn't think… I thought that that kind of resistance was strong enough that I really didn't want to have a fight about this, that I’d sort of put it to the side. Ed Walsh came along at that time with this idea of a panel on public policy, which was not what I really had in mind, but it was close enough. That seemed to be something that people could accept, so I went along like that.

Then during a lot of this time, there were issues about the financing of the society. Exactly what role should the treasury play to manage our funds? How we were going to fundraise? All of those issues surfaced. I had a long, long meeting with our auditors and with our financial advisors, with the investment committee, and they kept pointing out that we really had way too much money invested, that we should use that money for the betterment of acoustics. We were overly conservative in the amount of money we had, and so I took on, once I learned all that, a pretty strong initiative of trying to get us to start spending money. That took a long time.

Hartmann:

Was there a concern about losing our tax status, as in 501(3)(c)?

Yost:

Well, we were not quite there yet, but the auditor said, “You know, you're starting to get in that ballpark where if you don't start using this money, you could run into some tax issues. You're not there yet; don't think you're panicking, but you're not headed in the right direction,” (in their opinion). I had an initiative that never, ever has taken off, and I’m not sure it ever will. I really thought that we were close enough that if we could raise a million or two more money (dollars), add it to the money we already had, we could set up a significant endowment and we could publish everything that ASA published, including standards for little or no cost. The endowment would pay for it.

This was a particularly timely issue because during my presidency—well, the transition from vice president to presidency, NIH came up with the requirement that if you had an NIH grant, you had to have your articles published in PubMed free. That scared the bejesus out of anyone associated with the Acoustical Society because we lived off the journal. This looked like it could undermine the journal, and if the journal gets undermined, we’re not a society anymore. We’d have to charge $400, $500, $600 for membership just to run the society because the journal was… The subscriptions to the journal were our revenue, all of it, and so this was very scary. So sort of dealing with this issue of open access, I came up with the realization that we were not that far away. I thought that going out to society members and friends and others and saying, “That’s our goal, is to raise money so we can publish everything we do for free,” would be a really good fundraising strategy, but it never… No one else seemed to agree with me to the extent that we did anything about it.

Hartmann:

So in this model, authors would still pay page charges?

Yost:

Authors would still pay page charges, but not a huge amount, about what they were paying at that time.

Hartmann:

And the journal would be free online to anybody, even--?

Yost:

Yeah. Exactly how that would all work was… The emergence of the online and the way we do things now-- PDFs were really not quite there yet, so the details of all that were different than they would be today, but conceptually everything was there. Today it would even be easier to do. The overhead of having a website and PDFs is not at all what the overhead would have been 15, 20 years ago to pull this off. But we did reorganize a lot of the things having to do with the foundation that was in control of the monies we had. We dealt with issues of the treasury and that kind of stuff and then started to hire some people to help out in the office to get things done. So we started during my time to move in the correct direction. One of the things that I think…I’m sure you would agree with, being a president, that was always a challenge at ASA is the president is technically and realistically the CEO of the organization, but we have a new CEO every year. [Chuckles]

Hartmann:

Yes.

Yost:

So having things continue from one presidency to another… It was problematic. If the new president didn't exactly see things as the old president, then the old president’s idea died pretty quickly. That has changed in recent years, but at that time that was clearly an issue. I’m sure I didn't carry the ball forward from Ilene the way she would have wanted it, and I know that some of the things I had weren't followed by the person who came after me. The society seemed to be successful anyway, so it wasn’t something that needed major fixing.

Hartmann:

Is there anything that stands out from your career as president in that year?

Yost:

Well, this whole situation of managing our investments was tricky. There were some incredibly good-willed people who had every intention of trying to help the ASA, but I felt they weren't doing it. So how to finesse that, how to get the investments we have more in a place that could help ASA and not sort of run out of someone’s kitchen, which is sort of the way it was, took some work. I relied heavily on Leo Beranek to help me think this through, and he carried the ball for me on several occasions. We were able to start the process of doing that. It by no means was done quickly and done during my time as president and past president, but the ball definitely started rolling at that time.

Hartmann:

At that time there were two different financial and investment committees. The Acoustical Foundation board had one committee and the society had another.

Yost:

Exactly. Right. And then we had a treasurer as sort of a third entity that was in the mix that really wasn’t formally connected. We had an audit that, like the foundation board, was not involved with at all, okay, so it was very splintered. The idea was to bring this all together. I felt very strongly that we should have, in simplistic terms, a getting-money operation that was a development operation, and a spending-money operation, okay, that were closely linked.

I knew, because by that time I had been heavily involved in heading a committee that built a life sciences building at Loyola and fundraising for it, so I got heavily involved with fundraising. I learned a lot about fundraising and I learned that it’s a very, very, very careful industry. You just can't do it willy-nilly. You have to really have real pros that know what they’re doing, and we didn't have any pros at all. So I felt we should either rely on AIP to help us. The Optical Society had some wonderful people who were willing to help a little bit. Or we should develop our own; we should hire our own people and really do development the way it’s supposed to…the way it needs to be done, by real professionals and real pros. Then that operation should be fed, I thought, by councils, by the Technical Council and Executive Council, on what the society needed, and then there needed to be an enterprise that would actually spend the money, okay? The treasurer should be sort of responsible for that. That’s not where we are today.

Hartmann:

That’s not where we are. No, that’s not happened.

Yost:

But that doesn't mean that there aren’t other ways to do it. That was just the plan that I had at that time. Some of those balls got rolling. Some of them continued to roll. Most of them rolled elsewhere, so to speak. [Chuckles]

Hartmann:

Well, in one sense it’s been quite successful in that there is one investments committee, but there remain two accounts. There’s account 1 and account 2, and one is the society’s account and the other is the foundation’s account.

Yost:

Right.

Hartmann:

They’re managed by the same investment advisors, and the investments committee looks at both of them. All the same, you’ve encountered some resistance, no, from the foundation board?

Yost:

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And you know, as I said, there really aren’t bad guys and good guys in this story. It’s just people with different ideas about how things get done. If errors were made along the way, I think it was because people don't understand how much experience and background you need to do these things. I mean doing investments, fundraising isn't just something you pick up in the middle of the night, reading, going on the web.

Hartmann:

Wall Street Journal.

Yost:

These places, universities that fundraise have people, hundreds of people who are hugely knowledgeable about that whole enterprise.

Hartmann:

Yeah. I’m just going to read through some of your activities in the Acoustical Society, and the idea is you should stop me…

Yost:

Stop. [Laughs]

Hartmann:

[Laughs]…at any point when I come to something that you’d like to talk about. For instance, here’s the Working Group on Auditory Magnitudes, or the Working Group on Manikins, or…

Yost:

Yeah. That’s all standard stuff. So as chair of S3 Bioacoustics, one of the jobs of that chair is to think about where we need standards, and so these are topics that I thought we might be able to develop standards on, more measurement-like than product or performance standards, but nonetheless, standards.

Hartmann:

Was anything there involved with KEMAR? That was the main thing--

Yost:

Well, KEMAR was already a standard. There was already a standard on that, yeah. Mahlon Burkhard was hugely involved with that.

Hartmann:

Yes, he was. You chaired a special committee to study publication rates of the society.

Yost:

Well, this is all the open access issue. If open access was going to undermine the finances that we were deriving from subscriptions to the journal, then the question becomes how do we generate the revenue? What could we do?

Hartmann:

You were a chair of the subcommittee on meeting presentation guidelines.

Yost:

[Laughs] Yeah. I don't remember much about that.

Hartmann:

And chair of the subcommittee on membership.

Yost:

Yeah. Well, several times when people could… When the membership committee P&P represented and in one case Speech couldn’t attend a meeting, I did, officially serving.

Hartmann:

How about the various vision committees and the committees about the society’s future?

Yost:

Yeah. There were a whole bunch during my time on council, VP. It seemed like almost every year we had a new vision committee. A president would come in, look at the challenges that the society had, and decide we needed to get a bunch of people together and discuss it. I think that indeed every one of those activities produced a pretty good report about where we were and where we should go, but the problem was what we just talked about a minute ago, that there was no way to implement things because the leadership kept changing. The executive director, at that time Charles Schmid, really didn't have enough power or enough…you know, power within the society the way it operated to really be the person to carry these balls forward. It had to be the president, okay? So Bill Kuperman had an early one and we met… We’re here in San Diego; we met in San Diego. We met up at Scripps up on the hill in La Jolla and had this… Were you there at the Scripps one?

Hartmann:

I can't remember.

Yost:

Well anyway, it was a good meeting and we had lots of really, really… I mean there are really smart people in the society with good ideas! They were collected and documented and everything, but nothing really happened because Bill steps down as chair, as president, and the next person comes in and didn't have a mandate to execute the plan. I don't remember the details anymore, but I’m sure there are pieces of that that got moved forward. That continued until…

Then we had a really big meeting in Austin not too many years ago—same thing. Lots of good things happened, but at that time it became more and more obvious that we needed to have longevity, that leaving that Austin vision meeting, the next set of presidents had to sort of be told that their sort of job was to follow that. It didn't quite happen, and then recently the ones that have taken place, that has really happened where there’s this continuity that we have the statements about the goals of the society and they’re sort of on the walls and everyone on council, the VPs and the presidents, are following that.

Hartmann:

Well, how did that happen? How did you get these cats corralled?

Yost:

Well, by that time I didn't have much to do with it. Well, we had a change from Charles Schmid to Susan Fox as executive director. I know a lot about that because I was part of the search committee that recommended Susan, and then eventually she got appointed. She was quite adamant about continuity. I think I’m not the only president by any means because I’ve talked to many past presidents who wondered whether or not we should sort of change the model from the president being the CEO to having the executive director being the CEO and bringing the continuity and the president being more of a pretty face, you know, more someone coming in with some ideas and that kind of stuff. That never, ever got very far, and I don't think it would now, either. So I think anyone who’s been president, been on council for very long realizes this is something that doesn't quite work well enough for the society.

So I think that… And now that we went through the thing in Austin and we went through—and they recently went through at a Texas… Was it Texas? No, it was Tucson—that I think anyone now that comes on council sort of… The culture’s changed realization that we have this strategic plan. We have this vision statement. We have these goals that the society is going to follow and that your job as a council person or as a VP or as a president is to help. You may have your own ideas as to how to help, okay, but it’s clearly now more focused than it was when you and I were chair…presidents.

Hartmann:

Hmm. That’s interesting. Along with this, you were active in a new organization, the ARO (the Association for Research in Otolaryngology).

Yost:

Yeah. Briefly to that, I’m at the University of Florida and I get a phone call one day from the chair of ENT-Otolaryngology who I know, [George Singletary]. He says that a bunch of people will be coming to town in a few months and having a little meeting over in St. Petersburg beach where he has his boat moored, and he’s sort of responsible for suggesting that this group meet there. He said, “They’re going by the name of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology,” and he happens to mention that Don Nielsen, who had just recently left Florida about three years before that, was involved. Don, of course, was a very, very good friend, so I got in contact with Don and learned more about this ARO. So what George wanted me to do was grab a couple slide projectors and maybe a graduate student and go over and help, so some papers could be presented and stuff. It was a preliminary meeting to the first official meeting of the ARO in Happy Dolphin Inn in St. Petersburg Beach.

So Dave Dolan, actually the brother of Terry Dolan was a graduate student in our labs, Don Teas’s and mine at that time. Dave eventually got his PhD with Don. Went over, grabbed a couple of slide projectors, went over, and I had a grand time. It was like, I don't know, 30 people. It wasn’t quite the ARO, and I learned what ARO was, which was the people who worked in medical schools, okay, in ENT departments but were not MDs. So they couldn't participate in the official academy, which at that time was the Academy of Otolaryngology and Ophthalmology. They had pretty strict rules about who could go to meetings and everything and wear badges so you just couldn't walk in and pay your $50 and get a badge and go anywhere. You had to be an MD. You had to meet certification requirements in order to do that, and PhDs didn't qualify.

So they had what they called the research forum. The academy meetings usually met on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and the forum would meet Friday before the official meeting. So when all the MDs would go to the academy meetings, the people who worked in the labs, the PhDs, whether they were faculty-related PhDs or soft money or technicians or whatever, would go to the research forum and present their work in the research forum. There was a large number of MDs who were there too who were in the labs as well.

They kept wanting to get inside, be a part of the academy. Then when the academy split, ophthalmology went in to be their own academy and otolaryngology became their own academy. They kept trying and it didn't happen. Finally, in 1975, ’76, the research forum group said, “The hell with you guys. We’re just going to go and have our own society,” okay, and that’s when George said, “Okay. I’ve got this place down in Florida I think we can meet. They’ve got a little conference area. They’ve got enough hotel rooms.”

Hartmann:

This is George who?

Yost:

Singletary, the chair of ENT who was one of the “good guys” who would go to the forum meeting who participated in the research who really wanted the academy itself to take the research forum into the academy.

So the first meeting happens and then I move to Chicago, and then the thought that maybe going to a meeting in early February on the beach in Florida from Chicago sounded pretty appealing, especially during the winters of ’76, ’77, and ’78. So I started going back and never missed a meeting for like 32 years, okay, originally for two reasons. [Chuckling] One, to get out of the damn winters in Chicago, but two, because I was being exposed to a whole part of hearing I knew nothing about, and that was the clinical medical part, not audiology, which I knew a little bit about. But I didn't know anything about Meniere’s disease or tumors or any of that, and that was a big part of what was going on with the topics that were there. Then people like Peter Dallos were showing up and he was giving great tutorials, giving an overview of basic research and physiology, so that was a great way to synthesize that work having people like Peter talk about that. Then I was, I think, the only psychoacoustician that showed up at these meetings. There weren't very many in medical school, so I sort of did the same thing about psychoacoustics. I would give sort of an overview of what I thought was an interesting area.

We piddled around for a while and then in 1982, ’83 I go to NSF and while I’m at NSF, former program officers at NSF, people like Terry Dolan and people at NIH—at that time people would dual submit. If you had a proposal you wanted to submit to NSF, and let’s say the NIH and you could turn it into something that wasn’t purely clinical but had a pretty good basic thing, you would also submit it to NSF. If both agencies funded you, you had to pick one, but you doubled your chances. Initially there was resistance to that by both agencies, but then they both said, “Okay, fine.”

So I came in as program officer at NSF during the heyday of that, so I was cross-trained. I went to the typical NSF training, but I also went through NIH program director training. So I was well-trained in both and I got to know program officers in the Institute of Vision and at that time the institute was the Neurology Institute with a subdivision in communication disorders, which is where hearing was. There wasn’t an NIDCD anywhere near that time.

Hartmann:

Yeah. It was NINDS.

Yost:

There was the Aging Institute and all these institutes, hearing you could find in it and I got to know all those people. Then there were two or three programs at NSF that dealt with hearing. I actually was formally in charge of one and had an administrative oversight of another, the developmental neuroscience for which if there was a hearing paper or grant in developmental neuroscience, it would have been in that.

So I’m interacting with all these people and I’m beginning to realize and people are also talking to me about the fact that hearing isn't doing very well, okay? Vision is eating our lunch in terms of the number of grants and the chemical senses are doing pretty damn well and we’re not… There just aren’t that many hearing grants that are being funded by NIH and NSF.

So I called a meeting hosted at NSF—my boss was all in favor of this—and brought a bunch of people, former program officers at NSF and current people in and around town, and sort of talked about sensory sciences funding. I admitted up front that I had an ulterior motive that I’m a hearing scientist and I was concerned. So I wanted to pick their brain, but I just wanted to talk in general. Very quickly everyone pointed out that one of the things that made vision, and now very recently the chemical senses so successful is they had a very strong organizations that had MDs and scientists that were all there politicking, basically, for support for vision or support for the chemical senses (taste and smell), and there wasn’t such a thing in hearing, okay, in the hearing group. There were many, many other things we talked about, but that really, really got me thinking. They were right. ASA didn't have MDs. ASHA didn't have any science. Otolaryngology didn't even want to take in PhDs from hospitals into their program. That wasn’t going to work.

So when I left NSF, in the back of my mind I said, “You know, now that I’ve had these experiences at NSF and everything, I know a lot of people now.” You get a lot of friends when you're a program officer at the National Science Foundation. So I made a lot of contacts and I thought, “You know, if I get the opportunity at some point, I’d like to see if maybe I can't use those contacts to sort of get something going.”

I thought about ASA, but there was no way we were going to get MDs to show up, and without MDs this politicking wasn’t going to work at NIH anyway. I thought about the American Auditory Society, but I wasn’t sure that was quite the right group. I immediately thought of ARO, but they were like 200 people. I mean how can you have any power with 200 people? But over time I began to think that may be the best chance because it was half MDs already, okay, and some pretty darn good scientists as well—just weren't very many.

So I set up a luncheon with Don Nielsen and Joe Miller—the hearing Joe Miller, not the Acoustical Society… Excuse me. Joe Miller. Not Jim Miller.

Hartmann:

Not Jim Miller. Mm-hmm [yes]. Well, there’s the Jim Miller at St. Louis.

Yost:

St. Louis, but this was Joe Miller at Michigan who was running the Kresge Institute.

Hartmann:

Oh, okay.

Yost:

Don was secretary/treasurer. Joe had been or was going to be—or maybe he was; I can't remember—president. So I took them to lunch at an ARO meeting, sitting there at the Happy Dolphin Inn, and I said, “Have you guys ever thought about being more than what you are?” I explained this meeting at NSF and blah, blah, blah, and it didn't seem to race any motors, you know? The person who should have been there who probably would have changed things immediately would have been David Lim, who was integral to the whole ARO from day one. He was the one who had the official title of historian, but he was the glue that kept ARO running for year after year after year. I didn't know that at the time. I wasn’t that tuned into how ARO actually worked. I thought the secretary/treasurer and the president were the persons to talk to, so it didn't go very far.

Two years later, Joe, who was no longer president, calls me and says, “You remember that meeting we had and that lunch you took us to the other day? Can we talk again? This time I’d like to have David show up.” Now Don has become secretary…has really taken the secretary/treasurer job very seriously and done a wonderful job of being secretary/treasurer. So we met again, okay? Then they said, “You know, Don’s thinking… We’re thinking about having Don run for president. Why don't you become secretary/treasurer and see if you can't get council on board with your ideas and see if that doesn't percolate,” okay? So that’s how it started.

So I’m secretary/treasurer. I started to get some of my friends in psychoacoustics to start showing up. This began to grow. We outgrew Happy Dolphin. We move up to Clearwater, to the Holiday Inn in Clearwater. I thought we were going to be there forever, you know. It housed about 500 or 600 people. I thought that would be the size of ARO. Zip! Three years later we had outgrown Clearwater and we moved back down to St. Petersburg to the Trade Winds Hotel. ARO takes off and it attracts this incredible woman, Susan Fox, who…

Hartmann:

Geraldine Fox, right?

Yost:

Geraldine Fox—I knew Susan wasn’t right—who was a wife of an attorney who had a hearing loss and ran into the Deafness Research Foundation while she was shopping on Fifth Avenue in New York. Walks into the head of DRF at that time (Deafness Research Foundation) and explains that she’s been very involved with philanthropy and her husband has been too and blah, blah, blah. She has a hearing loss and she’d like to see if she couldn't help, you know, the hearing world. She said, “I imagine that there’s probably not a lot to be done. NIH probably has a big funding program in hearing and everything,” and the head of DRF says, “Well, not really. They’re sort of buried in this neurology division.” She says, “Oh! Well, that’s what I can do. I can start a hearing institute at NIH,” and she does. For all intents and purposes, she does.

ARO plays a key role. I mean they’re not the driver, but the society is supportive. Members of the society are very supportive, and Geraldine uses ARO as a sounding board for her ideas and to get people involved and to get people to support. She comes up with this wonderful vehicle of getting a well-respected MD, like Joe Nadal, head of Mass. Ear Eye or someone, a well-respected scientist, like Peter Dallos, and a deaf child. They go to Congress. The three of them will show up in a congressman’s office and talk about this new idea, you know? So they got Kennedy on board. They got everyone on board. It so happens that Reagan’s president. He’s got a hearing loss. His physicians are the House brothers in Los Angeles, so if we can just get it done while he’s still president, he’s going to make sure it happens, and it does. Everyone tells her that it took the arthritics… The last institute to become officially an NIH institute was the Institute on Arthritis. It took 13 years. It took Geraldine 13 months.

Hartmann:

Wow. That’s remarkable.

Yost:

Yeah. It was all… It was hugely her. Now there are a lot of things going on. Rogers is from Florida, Harkin from Iowa, Kennedy in Massachusetts—these were all big supporters. So that’s how I got involved.

Hartmann:

For the record, the Kennedy from Massachusetts was Ted Kennedy.

Yost:

Ted Kennedy.

Hartmann:

Edward Kennedy.

Yost:

Yeah.

Hartmann:

I’m just thinking about people…

Yost:

Right, right. Excuse me.

Hartmann:

…from other generations listening to this and say, “Hey. Kennedy was shot in ’63, it says in the history books.”

Yost:

Yeah. No, no.

Hartmann:

No, that was Edward Kennedy, who was always involved with health issues.

Yost:

After the institute was made into law, about six months later a conference of about 100 people was convened in DC with four topic areas to set up the operating…the way in which the new institute would operate, the extramural program, not the intermural program right away. That was added later. But immediately Hearing and Balance, Taste and Smell, Speech and Language, and then… What was it called? [Chuckles] Anyway, there were four co-chairs and a chair. Joe Miller was the chair and there were four co-chairs. I was one of the co-chairs. I was a co-chair for sort of everything else the institute does besides support research grants (not training grants). Training was done at an extra meeting, but outreach—that’s what it was. Everything that had to do with outreach was my committee’s responsibility, so the four of us put together the marching orders for the new institute. Then a couple months later, a similar thing was done for the training programs, and a few months after that… Well, actually a year after that, the intermural program and then the institute was off and running with Jim Snow as its first director.

Hartmann:

Yes. Of course from the point of view of the Acoustical Society, the ARO has been something of a disaster. When you and I both joined the Acoustical Society, it truly had a P&P Technical Committee (Psychological and Physiological). There were physiologists here, including the top physiologists in the world came to Acoustical Society meetings, presented their work, and sometimes published in our journal, and we’ve lost that physiology. At the same time, what is involved with physiology has totally exploded and it has essentially all gone to ARO and very little gone to ASA.

I started looking at the abstract book for a recent ARO meeting—2017, actually—and just came up with these topics: “The genetic and molecular basis of hearing function and dysfunction.” “Aging effects: hair cell regeneration, ototoxicity.” “Hidden hearing loss (or synaptopathy).” “Cochlear implant surgery.” “Cochlear implant electrode stimulation strategy.” “Infrared cochlear stimulation.” “Middle ear implants.” “Neurophysiological measures like ABR envelope following response.” “Auditory-evoked response.” “Auditory brain stem response.” “Brain stem and mid-brain computational modeling.” “Brain stem and higher electrophysiological recordings.” “Auditory systems with non-human animals,” which may be a bit in animal bio here. “Auditory efferent systems.” “Genetics of hearing loss.” “Cochlear chemistry.” “Acoustic reflex.” “Hyperacusis,” say, in rats. “Tinnitus: recordings of field potentials in cortex,” and the list just goes on. [Chuckles] I haven't actually finished. I got halfway through the…

Now there are some things that are in that list at ARO like cochlear mechanics which the society does. Cochlear implants psychoacoustics a little bit. OAEs and distortion product OAEs. Middle ear transmission. These things do appear in physiology, but there’s a lot that doesn't. So what’s your take on all of it?

Yost:

Well, I think there are several things going on. (A) Indeed, even back in the day when I joined, you joined—I joined a few years before you did—you wouldn't… There was almost nothing on the medical side of things. There were clearly clinical audiological things always ongoing, but surgery, things that are truly within the realm of medicine and ENT were just not here. There were very, very few MDs that showed up. Most who would be would be the MD, PhD type person. So that, ASA has never really been a home to MDs in our field, and almost any field except for maybe a little bit of the ultrasound area within the ASA. So I think that’s one thing that we need to keep in mind.

The second is that when we got into the field, there was no cell biology, molecular biology, neurobiology, okay? When I started graduate school, there was no such thing as neuroscience. It didn't exist. The word didn't exist in the dictionary, Webster’s, okay? So all of that evolved. Now there’s no reason why it couldn't have evolved in ASA as well, but it didn't, okay? The peripheral physiology—otoacoustic emission, biomechanics, things that were very closely tied to the stimulus, to acoustics, to sound—always sort of remain here, but got diluted. As you move further away from the periphery, you got further from sound, in a sense. Then it got less and less and less and less involved. People got less and less interested in coming here and they went elsewhere sort of thing.

Then early on, I think the support that we gave at ARO—and I’ll take some credit for this—of having these massive poster sessions was an advantage because everyone was sort of thrown together. You didn't have competing sessions. You didn't have to decide between hearing one thing or another. You could just roam the poster session. One of the things we quickly realized is that in order to do that and take full advantage of it, the posters should be up a long time. They’re up 24 hours. You can come anytime you want to. That generated some problems for ARO because of insurance and security and all that kind of stuff, which sort of hit our treasury pretty hard, but we sacrificed and did that to keep that and everything. I think that helped ARO. Getting posters at ASA was really hard. That was a struggle, okay? Many of the technical committees really thought that was a bad idea. It means you're a second-class citizen, etc., etc., etc. But it was embraced by ARO pretty easily.

Hartmann:

Oh, yes. Yeah, without posters…

Yost:

And that was driven not because of a genius idea that this would really help science. It was driven by the fact we didn't have the space to have multiple meetings. We had to accommodate the explosion that took place in the field and in ARO by having poster sessions. But it did give this stronger sort of feeling of community amongst those that did genetics and molecular and things like that that might not have happened if you’d had one session and sat all in one session—you know, cellular in one session, then molecular in one session, and genetics in one session, and biomechanics or cochlear mechanics, something like that. I’m not sure. The experiment wasn’t done. [Chuckles]

Hartmann:

Yeah. Well, of course everybody is aware that the ARO has eaten a good fraction of our lunch in the Acoustical Society, and there’s been good effort to attract physiologists here and people…

Yost:

Now the two societies, the two meetings, a typical meeting… Now we can exceed a typical meeting like the Paris meeting, but the two meetings are about the same size. There are about 1,500 people show up. That’s about the size of the membership of ARO. ARO is one of these interesting societies where it hasn’t been that unusual year in and year out that more people will show up at the midwinter meeting and give a paper than belong to the society. That clearly doesn't happen with the ASA, okay? It’s not anywhere near close. Even the Paris meeting there weren't 7,500 papers, okay? [Chuckles]

Hartmann:

Yes.

Yost:

Of course, the difference is that’s 1,500 people doing hearing or speech, hearing, language, taste, and smell. It’s all of otolaryngology at one meeting, whereas of course at ASA, the 1,500 people are doing acoustics and a much smaller proportion of them are doing P&P, or if you include speech, speech and P&P, which would be… The speech people have not embraced ARO anywhere near like the P&P people have.

Hartmann:

Oh, no. They seem to be very strong in acoustical at this point.

Yost:

The chemical senses haven't either because they do have a very strong meeting, the AChems meeting that meets in Sarasota every year. So they don't have the strong need. And then, you know, there’s this competing meeting problem. Now we have two meetings, okay? Three meetings a year—two ASA, one ARO.

Hartmann:

Yes.

Yost:

Who’s to say if we had gone the one… Well, we kind of did go to one meeting, but not really—if that would have helped or hurt, I don't know. Again, it’s an experiment that you can't do.

Hartmann:

You can't do an experiment. Yes.

Yost:

As we were talking the other day, the one…or I guess earlier today. The one opportunity that I really do regret that we didn't take advantage of in P&P and people like me didn't push harder for is I still think that we could have been a real home to people who do neural imaging. For lots of reasons that didn't happen. As I said at lunch, to do fMRI or PET or that kind of neural imaging requires really quite elegant, sophisticated knowledge of experimental methodology in the behavioral sciences, and that’s our forte as psychoacousticians. You know, MRI is a physics machine and we’re a physics society at the heart of things, so I thought the marriage of those two would have been something that P&P could have embraced, but it didn't. That train has left the station, too.

Hartmann:

It has left the station. There’s not much that one can do.

Yost:

I just don't think… It was sort of like I think many of us said along the way is as the physiologists were not showing up, if we could get some of the superstars, some of the really drivers, the really influential people, the people who were doing the cutting edge stuff to come here, then others would follow. That’s sort of my feeling about fMRI. If we could get the really leading people… I tried. There are a couple of people that I know pretty well that had done stuff using pitch as their goal, but they didn't seem very interested in coming to ASA.

Hartmann:

Chris Stecker does.

Yost:

Chris does. Chris has taken that on a little bit, but--

Hartmann:

Maybe [unintelligible].

Yost:

But it hasn’t taken off. We haven't even had a session, you know. If you go look at our sessions, we don't have a session on imaging. Rarely. I bet we’ve had two in the last 15 years.

Hartmann:

Hmm. We need more.

Yost:

And special sessions, in some sense to me, don't count, okay? I mean you and I can say we’re going to do a special session on fMRI in that time. It happens because we go out and grab a bunch of people. It’s the contributed sessions that tell you what’s really going on in terms of the interest of the people who show up here.

Hartmann:

Yes. That’s a good point. Well, I think I’ve run out of questions that I’ve planned. Thinking about this, why don't we turn off the tape recorder for the moment and we can discuss as to where else this might go. Right now we’ve talked for 47 minutes and 29 seconds, so I’m going to pause this for the moment. [Break]

Okay, we’re resuming the conversation after a brief pause with Professor Yost. We’d like to go into a little more depth on another of his research topics, which is MDI, or modulation detection interference.

Yost:

So that also is directly connected to the work I was doing in ripple noise. So I did a study right before I went to National Science Foundation with a guy who was going to come in and do a sabbatical or leave of absence and take over research while I was gone and Dick Fay was going to do the administrative part. I did a study where I varied the frequency spacing of the ripples in ripple noise in a couple different ways and asked how fast could I change the spacing before you could no longer tell that it was ripple versus a flat noise. So I would have… If you know anything about how you generate a ripple noise, you take a sound. You delay it and add it back to itself, so I varied the delay over time, sinusoidally made the delay go high-low-highest, short-long, short-long, short-long.

I was surprised at the results, which were that by the time I got to about 5 Hz, it sounded pretty much like a flat noise, that there was no real perceptual difference between the modulation of the ripple noise and the modulation of flat noise. I thought, “Well, gee, that’s weird,” because if you just looked at one place, one spectral location, basically what I’m doing is sinusoidally amplitude modulating in that spectral region because I’m moving the spectrum in and out of that region. You know you can follow sinusoidal amplitude modulation out to at least 50 Hz, if not much higher than that, and here I was finding a result in which subjects were just simply at chance between 5 and 10 Hz.

Then I realized yes, I’m right that if you look at a particular frequency region, the power in a critical band or the power in that region will go in and out high-low, high-low at five times a second, and that would be easy to follow. The thing that I didn't realize right away, but it didn't take me very long to realize it, a band adjacent to it would be out of phase, that it would also be going in and out of high-low, high-low five times a second, but at a different time. So when one was high, the other was low so any cross-spectral integration would wipe out what was happening in any one band. That led to MDI.

So we did an experiment more closely tied to that, and then… This was all done with close collaboration with my colleague Stan Sheft. Then we said, “Well, wait a minute. Let’s do this in the extreme. Let’s have a tone that we AM and then let’s have a different carrier, a different tone, and we’ll AM it, too. We’ll ask the subject to detect the modulation of a target tone of one carrier while that carrier was AM-ed along with a different carrier.” So both carriers have the same AM, okay? If you can listen to a critical band, you should just be able to listen to one frequency region and should be able to attend to the target carrier and listen to its modulation and follow it just fine. Let’s say the target is 500 Hz and the interferer is 4,000 Hz. It should be no problem. You should be able to listen to 500 Hz and hear the modulation, even though it’s also being modulated at 4,000 Hz, and you can't. It’s really hard to do that. So the modulation detection, you're trying to detect modulation in one frequency channel while another frequency channel has exactly the same modulation. That became MDI.

I thought that that was really important because at that time it was the only example that I knew of in which if you listen to a critical…that you could listen to a critical band. There are other examples like a comodulation masking release in which you could do better if you also listen to a better channel. You could listen to the critical band channel that you were supposed to attend to, but if something else happened remotely, you could use it to help you, okay? So that’s what the comodulation masking release was. You could sort of use this comodulation and you could turn down the signal in the masking band. But MDI was an example where you couldn't listen to the critical band! You just couldn't do it, and I thought that was really important.

We wrote a Science article on that; it went nowhere. No one thought that was important enough to get it into Science. Then we turned it into a JASA article. Our theory at that time—and many, many, many other people picked up on it, and there are lots of papers supporting this idea that because the two carriers were modulated together, in a gestalt kind of way they belonged together. They were from the same source, and so trying to disentangle a source is not something that the auditory system really wanted to do. It wanted to keep sources together, and that’s what was driving this. Consistent with that, if we make the masker out of…modulate it at a different rate, then you don't have the interference. Now you can attend to the one carrier and ignore the other. So now they’re not modulated together; they don't belong together anymore, okay? So the nervous system doesn't have any problem with separating them.

The kicker was always that if I made the envelope phase of the distractor different than the envelope phase of the target, you get all sorts of differences… Different people… Even we got different results, okay? It wasn’t clear-cut. There wasn’t a release, and that wouldn't happen with a source that you’d have two different components out of phase, at least in a simple source. So that was always sort of a little bit of an anomaly in this explanation for the effect.

Then there were people like Sid Bacon and his lab started to report that if people sort of hung around the lab long enough and participated in an MDI experiment a long time, they got better and better and better and better and better at picking up the modulation.

Hartmann:

The interference effect went away?

Yost:

Went away. Then Stan and I independently, with totally different vocabularies, hit upon what we now think is the right explanation. It’s attention. Stan called it… For anyone who doesn't know hearing listening to this you won’t know what the hell I’m talking about, but if you know anything about psychoacoustics you will. Stan thought about it as informational masking in the modulation domain. I thought about it as just attention. You’ve got this [imitates a modulated sound] going on, and the fact that the envelopes aren’t quite right doesn't make any difference. You're just dominated. Your attention is dominated by this wow (AM) going on, okay? By the way, this only works at relatively low modulation rates, less than 100 Hz, so it really is beating, okay, in a sense. You just can't pick out… You can't attend to this one thing because your attention is so swamped by the modulation. This is 100% AM, okay, so it’s [imitates an obvious AM sound] and you just can't do it. If you listen long enough and you get used to it, you can sort of learn to attend.

So all of these anomalies started to sort of fit, and we did a couple papers. I won't go into exactly what we did. That attention explanation fit better than the sort of grouping based on common modulation explanation, and that’s where we left it. Stan and I haven't done any MDI, and it’s not used that much. For a while it was very popular in the cochlear implant world because cochlear implants use modulation as the main vehicle to get information in. So you have different electrodes having the same or different modulation patterns, and maybe that was a way to explain some of the things that happened with a cochlear implant. I’m not so sure that’s really that applicable anymore.

Hartmann:

I guess one thing that we haven't talked about is the move to Arizona State.

Yost:

Yeah. [Chuckles] I have a fun…

Hartmann:

How about that?

Yost:

Well, that has, to me anyway, a little humorous story. So in 2006, my wife and I decided to visit Terry Dolan—as I said, a very important person in my life—and his wife Mary Ann who had retired and were living in Tucson at that time. We did so for two reasons. First and foremost was to sort of check out Arizona as a possible retirement destination down the road. Also, right at that time there was a society called the American Auditory Society that meets in Scottsdale in March every year, and I could sort of piggyback on that meeting by going from Tucson back to Scottsdale, and so we did that. At that time, Sid Bacon was technically chair of the Department of Speech and Hearing Science at Arizona State University, but that particular year, 2006, he was serving as the interim dean of natural sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, none of which at the time seemed at all relevant to me in any way, shape, or form.

But at this AAS meeting, Sid had a party at his house for friends of his who were at the meeting, okay? I’ve known Sid for a long time. We’re not close friends, but I knew him when he was a student in Neal Viemeister’s lab and followed his career and got him involved with some things. A couple of his post-docs were former students of mine, etc., etc., so we’ve had a collegial relationship for a long time.

Go to the party. It was a beautiful, beautiful March night. He has a really cool house that sits on the end of a…right next to a reservation. It was really cool, and there were way too many margaritas. At the end of the party, Lee and I, my wife and I, go up to Sid and his wife Cathy and thank them for inviting us to the party. I sort of inappropriately said, “You know, Sid, this is just wonderful. It’s so wonderful I think I want to take your job,” and giggle, giggle. I said, “You know, looking at this house, while I’m at it, I’m going to take your house, too.” Then we say our goodbyes; we leave.

Almost to the date a year later, I get a phone call from Sid. Well, first of all I don't know Sid that well, so a phone call was a little unusual, and second of all, no one calls anyone anymore. It’s all email. But Sid says, and these are almost the exact words, “Do you remember being at the party at my house last year at the AAS meeting?” I laughed and I said, “Yes, I do. That was a wonderful party. I still thank you for inviting us,” and Sid says, “Well, per chance, do you remember what you said to me at the end of the party?” I laughed and I said, “I do. I remember quite well what I said, Sid,” and he said, “Well, you can have it.” I said, “I can have your house?!” What he meant was he had been offered the job as permanent dean and he was going to be giving up his department chair role to become dean of Natural Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He had gotten permission from the provost, who I happened to know—she was a psychologist and I had met her on several occasions in the past—if he could offer me the job as a targeted hire—no interview, no… Just if I say yes, it’s mine, okay? That’s what he meant by I can have it (his job).

Well, I wasn’t sure that was the way I wanted to take the job. I thought I’d better go and… If I wanted the job, I’d better go and find out about it and have the department find out about me, etc., etc. So I immediately called Lee, my wife, and said, “I know you had decided that we weren't going to retire in Arizona,” and then I explained the situation that I would be department chair of the Speech and Hearing Department. What did she think about maybe moving to Arizona? Her line was, “Bill, if you're going to be department chair, at least one of us is not going to be retiring in Arizona.” [Chuckles]

I already knew that I’d be retiring from Loyola because I had stepped down as vice president. I’d had a wonderful, wonderful relationship with the president, Father Mike Garanzini. Michael had let me know on the QT that he was going to be tearing down the building that Parmly was in, that he wouldn't be rebuilding Parmly. He would be taking the endowment and giving it to the medical school because he had a very different idea for where Loyola should be in terms of research, and that was on social justice. So I knew that I wasn’t… I didn't have a future at Loyola. He agreed that he would do nothing until my grants and all the grants at Parmly were over with, which would be a few years—not very many because I was well into my grants. So I sort of knew that I was… I mean I wasn’t going to hang around Loyola without a lab, okay? That made no sense. I would have been in my mid-sixties by that point, so I would retire. But deep down inside, I really didn't want to retire yet, and so when this came up, it was a great opportunity and I’m still working. [Laughs]

Hartmann:

Doing good things, too. Let me pause this for a moment. Chris! Is that you? Chris, are you here? CHRIS: I am.

Hartmann:

Okay. Well, I paused the recorder. No problem. We’re now into our third hour, only two minutes into our third hour. So what, Bill? You want to say more about Arizona?

Yost:

No, that’s enough.

Hartmann:

Is that enough?

Yost:

Well, you know, I mean other than as I often tell people, I’m having… I think the only time I’ve enjoyed myself more was when I was a post-doc. I have almost no responsibilities. I have a few (many fewer than I had as a post-doc) wonderful colleagues. I have an incredible post-doc. Yi Zhou, his wife, is a great colleague. I get along very well and do some different research for me. I work on cochlear implant problems with Michael Dorman, which is new—not something that I would want to make a career doing, but having it as something on the side has been very worthwhile. So yeah, I’m having a lot of fun. And I think the topic we’re studying is fascinating to me, anyway, if not to anyone else.

Hartmann:

We’re continuing with Professor Yost’s career at Arizona State where he’s just told me that he’s having a great deal of fun there, probably more fun than he’s had at any point in time since his career at UCSD with Dave Green, possibly because he is pretty much able to devote his entire career to research.

Yost:

Yeah, just like a post-doc where you don't have teaching or department meetings or anything else. I don't have any of those. I have to administer grants, which is enough of a pain to keep me honest, but that’s it. [Chuckles]

Hartmann:

I’m glad it keeps you honest. Well, we’ve just finished I think two hours of this recording; at least that’s what my recorder is telling me. We got into the third hour by a few minutes, and I think… Are we done, Bill?

Yost:

You’ve asked good questions and I’ve talked way too much. [Laughter]

Hartmann:

No, I don't think so. I think that people listening to this will find it all quite fascinating, especially because everybody’s been involved with the organizations and issues that you brought up. So I think we’re done.

Yost:

Fair enough. Thank you.

Hartmann:

I thank all the people who have agreed to listen to this and somehow commit it to the archives. So that’s the end of this recording. I believe that’s two hours and five minutes.

Yost:

Seems about right.

Hartmann:

All right. So now I need to stop this thing. Oh, there it is.

[End of recording]