Conferences in 2024

Work I have been involved in has been accepted to two conferences for 2024. In May, Movement-related muscle activity and kinetics affect vocalization amplitude will be presented at EVOLANG 2024 in Madison, USA. In July, we will present Arm movements increase acoustic markers of expiratory flow at Speech Prosody 2024 in Leiden, NL.

Preprints for both can be found and accessed here.

Dissertation published!

My dissertation The phonetics of speech breathing: pauses, physiology, acoustics, and perception has been published and is available online as open access.

Journal paper on acoustics of breath noises online

I am very happy to announce that the journal paper I first-authored called Acoustics of Breath Noises in Human Speech: Descriptive and Three-Dimensional Modeling Approaches is now online and open access via ASHA and PubMed. My co-authors for this project were Susanne Fuchs (ZAS Berlin), Jürgen Trouvain, Bernd Möbius (both UdS), Steffen Kürbis, and Peter Birkholz (both TU Dresden).

The paper gives the first description of the spectral characteristics of speech breath noises produced by a large number of (German) speakers. In addition, we modeled in- and exhalations using 3D-printed vocal tract models, that were produced using MRI. The main findings are:

  1. Breath noises have several weak peaks that align with resonances found in a very controlled setting where participants inhaled with the VT configuration of a central vowel in Hanna et al. 2018.
  2. Comparing in- and exhalation spectra in the 3D-printed VT models, airflow direction changes the spectral properties of /s ʃ ç i:/, but not of the other sounds we investigated.
  3. We tried to compare real inhalations and model inhalations but there is a myriad of mechanisms that are either hard to model or still un(der)-researched for speech breathing, so there's many interesting things left to do in that field.

The findings may help with the automatic detection of pathologies such as COVID-19, pathological cries and coughs in infancy, or vocal fold paralysis, or the emotional or cognitive state of the speaker. I hope that this paves the way for further work using the acoustics of breath noises in general, but also in pathological and synthesized speech.

New job at the Donders Institute

The day after my PhD defense I left for the Netherlands – Nijmegen, to be more specific. I went there to start my new job at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behavior at the Radboud Universiteit. There, I’ll be working with Wim Pouw on the biomechanics of speech and gestures, so how the upper-body muscle activity, posture, and voice production interact. I am super excited for this, as we’ll be using loads of fun methods such as sEMG for muscle activation, RIP for breathing patterns, balance boards for changes in posture, and video for 3D motion tracking.


PhD Defense

On the 4th of October, exactly 5 months after submission, I defended my dissertation at UdS in Saarbrücken. It was logistically challenging, as I had moved to Frankfurt and started a new position in the Netherlands in the meantime. I had been a bit nervous in the time leading up to it, but it all went better than I ever imagined. The presentation went like clockwork, thanks to a practice run I did a week ago for the phonetics group and several practice runs my girlfriend was kind enough to listen to (big thank you!). So this is a big recommendation of practicing! The questions were all great and appreciative, from every person involved including the external reviewer and the chair. For the aforementioned logistical situation, I had previously dallied with the idea of having it online. I am very happy I did not end up doing that, as it was a wonderful end to my PhD time at UdS. A massive thank you to everyone showing up – colleagues, friends, and family – and the committee for making this so enjoyable. And for the awesome hat I got! I am also extremely grateful who contributed to my PhD being such a lovely time!