Historical Biographies in Acoustics

I wrote a series of biographies about acousticians of note in 2017-19 for the magazine of the Acoustical Society of America, Acoustics Today. Subjects include:

  • Georg von Békésy, the Hungarian Nobel Laureate who largely pioneered research into cochlear mechanics using enormous physical models of the inner ear.

  • Carleen Maley Hutchins, one of the Acoustical Society’s highest honorees without an advanced degree. Hutchins was a largely self-taught luthier who created a family of string instruments (the violin octet) based on the acoustical properties of the violin body.


Hutchins is pictured in her basement workshop.
1963, image credit H. Grossman.

  • Ernest Glen Wever, who established the field of evolutionary acoustics: the study of how hearing organs evolved across species. Interviewing former graduate students of Wever’s was particularly notable for the memories of his lab space at the University of Pennsylvania, where a dolphin tank, bat facility, and a porch full of penguins were part of the lab.