Sound

Interviewed by
Gary W. Elko
Interview date
Location
Baltimore, Maryland
Abstract

In this interview organized through the Acoustical Society of America, German inventor and scientist Gerhard Sessler reflects on his life and career in acoustics. Sessler begins by recalling his childhood in Germany and his high school math teacher who inspired him to study physics. He describes the beginning of his undergraduate studies at Freiburg University before transferring to the University of Munich, where he took classes from physicists such as Arnold Sommerfeld. Sessler recalls moving to the University of Göttingen for his graduate studies, where he was introduced to the field of acoustics by Erwin Meyer. He describes his master’s thesis on sound propagation in rarefied gases. Sessler then explains the opportunity that led him to Bell Labs to work with Manfred Schroeder, where his projects included work on transducers, electrets, sound propagation in plasma, and architectural acoustics. He discusses his collaboration with Jim West on the development of electret microphones, first using Mylar films and then transitioning to Teflon. Sessler recalls his decision to return to both academia and Germany by accepting a position at Darmstadt University. There, he continued his work on electroacoustics, materials research, and room acoustics, and he discusses his work on developing silicon microphones. Toward the end of the interview, Sessler recounts his time as chairman of the first German acoustics association, DAGA, and then his role as founding member of the German Acoustics Society, DEGA. He also reflects on the honor of being elected to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1999, as well as receiving the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering.

Interviewed by
Richard Peppin
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview organized through the Acoustical Society of America, Greg Tocci discusses his life and career, focusing on his entry to the acoustics field, his relationship with ASA, and his long career with the acoustics consulting firm Cavanaugh Tocci. Tocci recalls his upbringing outside Boston as the son of an engineer, his undergraduate education in mechanical engineering at Tufts University, and master’s-degree work at MIT with Richard Lyon. He also discusses early jobs as a draftsman at a mechanical engineering firm and a researcher at the Army Materials and Mechanics Research Center at Watertown Arsenal, and his service in the Army Reserve during the Vietnam War. He then discusses his early career in architectural acoustics through the firms Cambridge Collaborative and Cavanaugh Copley and the circumstances leading to the splitting off of Cavanaugh Tocci in 1975. The interview concludes with a discussion of Tocci’s personal life and his ongoing work to train young employees and maintain the culture of Cavanaugh Tocci following his sale of his stake in it.

Interviewed by
Richard Peppin
Interview date
Location
Seattle, Washington
Abstract

In this interview organized through the Acoustical Society of America, Per Brüel discusses his life and career, focusing especially on his introduction to the field of acoustical instrumentation and his work in industry. It also discusses his association with ASA and other national acoustical societies. Brüel recalls his upbringing in Jutland, education at what is now called the Technical University of Denmark, experiences during World War II, early R&D work in Sweden, and his relationship with figures such as P. O. Pedersen and Viggo Kjær. He also discusses his work on architectural acoustics and the origins and successes of such Brüel & Kjær products as the constant percentage analyzer, level recorder, and condenser microphone, as well as his criticisms of the A-weighting curve used in noise measurement. He reflects on Brüel & Kjær management issues, including his division of responsibilities with Kjær, how they made decisions jointly, relations with universities, advertising, and the strategic decisions leading up to the sale of the company in 1992. The interview concludes with discussions of Brüel’s interest in cars and flying, his family, and his activities following the sale of Brüel & Kjær.

Interviewed by
Gilles Daigle
Interview date
Location
National Research Council in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Abstract

In this interview with former Acoustical Society of America president Mike Stinson, the discussion begins with Stinson’s experiences as a member of the society and recollections of his work with Shyam Khanna. The interview then shifts to Stinson’s youth near Vancouver, British Columbia, including his undergraduate education and master’s degree work in physics at Simon Fraser University. Stinson then recounts work in the sawmill industry and his decision to pursue a doctorate at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, involving research on the electrical and thermal conduction properties of metals at low temperatures. Stinson discusses his career at the National Research Council of Canada, where he moved into acoustics, working with researchers such as Gilles Daigle, Dave Havelock, Edgar Shaw, and Tony Embleton, and technicians such as Allen Hellard and Marina Vaillancourt.  He also recounts particular projects, such as work on the acoustics of Blackberry devices and the effects of atmospheric turbulence on sound, as well as the NRC’s decision to discontinue his group and his establishment of the company MG Acoustics with Daigle, who is also the interviewer.

Interviewed by
Ann Bradlow and Tessa Bent
Interview date
Location
Bloomington, Indiana
Abstract

In this interview organized through the Acoustical Society of America, the discussion begins with Pisoni’s experiences as a member of ASA and the influence of a presentation at a 1980 meeting by Brian Eukel as well as earlier work by the Harvard Psychoacoustics Lab. The interview continues with memories of Pisoni’s youth in New York City and undergraduate education in experimental psychology at Queens College of the City University of New York, including the influence of Lou Gerstman. Pisoni then recalls his doctoral work in psycholinguistics at the University of Michigan and research at Haskins Laboratories, as well as his move in 1970 to his only place of employment, Indiana University, and his sabbaticals at MIT. Other subjects Pisoni discusses include the creation and growth of the IU “Training in Speech and Hearing Sensory Communication” program funded by the National Institutes of Health, some of his most influential books and papers, his participation in the Institute for Defense Analyses’ Summer Camp in Applied Mathematical Problems, and his moves into clinical work and cognitive aging and speech perception.

Interviewed by
Jon Phillips
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, AIP Oral Historian Jon Phillips interviews Dr. Earl Blodgett, Professor of Physics at the University of Wisconsin River Falls and Historian for Sigma Pi Sigma and the Society of Physics Students. Blodgett discusses his undergraduate education at the University of Wisconsin River Falls and graduate education at Washington University St. Louis in detail, including his work on acoustics with James Miller at Washington. He describes his return to River Falls as a teaching professor, and the development of physics pedagogy there, as well as his longstanding activity with both the American Association of Physics Teachers and the Society of Physics Students, for which he has served as both President and Historian. The interview includes extensive discussion of both the administrative and pedagogical dimensions and trends within undergraduate physics education in the United States over the course of Blodgett’s full career.

Interviewed by
Michael Stinson
Interview date
Location
National Research Council in Ottawa, Ontario
Abstract

Interview with Gilles Daigle. The interview begins with Daigle discussing his current work at MG Acoustics, a small consulting R&D firm. Then he recalls joining Acoustical Society of America (ASA) as a master’s student after being encouraged to join by his thesis supervisor, Tony Embleton. Daigle overviews the committees he has served on and positions he held within ASA over the years, culminating in his term as president from 2007-2008. Daigle then recounts his childhood in New Brunswick and how a chemistry project in high school inspired him to major in chemistry at the University of Moncton. However, he changed his major to physics and worked in a small nuclear physics lab. Daigle describes pursuing his master’s degree at Carleton University in Ottawa, initially studying nuclear physics but eventually switching to acoustics, where he studied atmospheric turbulence. He continued at Carleton for his doctorate and took a teaching position at University of Moncton, before accepting a position with National Research Council Canada, where he remained for 30 years. At the end of the interview, Daigle discusses the creation of MG Acoustics, the awards he has received from the ASA, his family life, and his avid interest in bird photography.

Interviewed by
Ilene Busch-Vishniac
Interview date
Location
Louisville, Kentucky
Abstract

In this interview organized through the Acoustical Society of America, the discussion begins with West’s experiences as a member of the society before moving into his family background and youth in Virginia, education at Hampton Institute and Temple University, and military service in the Korean War. West describes his employment with Bell Labs and his work on the electret microphone, for which he and Gerhard Sessler would be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He also discusses his experiences as a Black member of the technical staff at Bell Labs, the importance of being in a research environment with people of similar backgrounds, and the creation and successes of the Association of Black Laboratory Employees (ABLE). West further describes his work in the acoustics of concert halls and hospitals and on the design of devices for taking medical measurements. The interview concludes with West highlighting his work during his presidency of ASA to expand its reach in Latin America and to attract and support people of Hispanic origin to acoustics.

Interviewed by
Richard J. Peppin
Interview date
Location
Teleconference
Abstract

In this interview organized through the Acoustical Society of America, Malcolm Crocker recounts his childhood in England during World War II and attending the University of Southampton for his undergraduate and master’s degrees in the aeronautical engineering program. Crocker then worked at Wyle Labs in Huntsville, Alabama, before returning to England to complete his graduate studies at Liverpool. He describes accepting an offer to join the faculty at Purdue University, where he stayed for years before he was offered a position as department head at Auburn University, where he eventually took emeritus status. Crocker discusses his involvement in the Institute of Noise Control Engineering (INCE) and his role as a founder of INCE International. He also details his activity within the Acoustical Society of America, where he has served on the Noise Committee and the History Committee.

Interviewed by
Fredericka Bell-Berti
Interview dates
November 5 & 7, 2018
Location
Fairmont Empress Hotel, Victoria, BC
Abstract

Interview with Patricia Kuhl, Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences and co-director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington. Kuhl describes joining the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) while a grad student at the University of Minnesota and discusses her over 50 years of membership. She served on the Executive Council of the ASA and was the first female President of the society in 1999 and 2000. Kuhl discusses her research in language acquisition and the neurobiology of language, and she explains the support and mentorship she has received over the years from the ASA and her mentors within. Kuhl also recounts her childhood in South Dakota and Minnesota, and her early interests in philosophy and math. She describes her time as an undergraduate at Saint Cloud University where she studied speech science and psychology, before pursuing a master’s and PhD at the University of Minnesota. Kuhl also speaks about her experiences as a postdoctoral researcher at the Central Institute for the Deaf. She shares fond memories of her time in the ASA and describes the society as being like a family.