The ISVR at 50: Making a World of Difference

Presenters’ biographical details, presentation titles and abstracts

Professor Phil Nelson, Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of Southampton

Philip NelsonPhil Nelson is a Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University, a former Director of the ISVR, and Professor of Acoustics. He is responsible for the development and delivery of University-wide strategies for research and enterprise, for the generation of research income, and for the quality of the University submissions to national research assessment exercises. He has stimulated cross-disciplinary research through the initiation and development of University Strategic Research Groups and several new cross-University Research Institutes. He also has oversight of the University’s enterprise activities, including the generation of spin out companies, the licensing of intellectual property and the development of relationships with industrial sponsors.

His main research interests are in the fields of acoustics, vibrations, fluid dynamics and signal processing. He has made contributions to building acoustics, aeroacoustics, the active control of noise and vibration, inverse problems in acoustics, multichannel sound reproduction and spatial hearing. He has authored or co-authored two books, over 120 papers in refereed journals, 35 patents and over 200 other publications. He is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, a Fellow of the Institute of Acoustics and has served as President of the International Commission for Acoustics. He is a recipient of the Rayleigh and Tyndall Medals of the Institute of Acoustics, the latter jointly with S.J. Elliott.

Professor Nelson will chair the Thursday Session

Professor Bob White, Former Director, ISVR

Bob WhiteBob White joined the ISVR from the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough as a Research Fellow in 1967. He became a member of the academic staff in 1970, was appointed Professor of Vibration Studies in 1983, and served as Director of the ISVR from 1982 to 1989.

Bob has been involved in dynamic testing, vibration control and the dynamic behaviour of composite aircraft structures with particular reference to acoustic fatigue. He has been active in the Engineering Division of the Institute of Acoustics, being involved in Chartered Engineer admissions, and was chairman of the Industrial Sponsorship Scheme for the Royal Academy of Engineering for some years, having been elected to Fellowship in 1995. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Acoustics and was awarded the IOA Tyndall Medal in 1984 and the Engineering Medal in 2008.

Bob was head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics for three years before becoming an Emeritus Professor of the University in 1998.

A brief history of the ISVR

The development of the ISVR in the early years is outlined following its creation as the vision of Professor E J Richards. Teaching, research and consultancy are the principal activities of the Institute which were very much aircraft-oriented initially. This theme continues, but the range of research carried out rapidly broadened to include transport noise, both road and rail, and human sciences. In the latter field, more recently, the needs of mankind are being addressed directly via new involvements in clinical audiology and bioacoustics. The continuing development of the ISVR is clear in its research group structure and teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels; these histories will be presented, as will be that of the consultancy units over the past fifty years.

Bob White’s presentation, A brief history of the ISVR, is now available on this website (PDF 1.65MB).

Ms Julie Brinton, Director, University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service

Julie BrintonJulie Brinton qualified as a speech and language therapist, joining the rehabilitation team at the South of England Cochlear Implant Centre in 1997.  In 2005 she became joint head of the service and then in 2012 Director of SOECIC, which in 2013 was renamed The Auditory Implant Service. Over recent years the Auditory Implant Service has become one of the largest cochlear implant centres in the UK with a national and international reputation for excellence in service delivery and clinical research.

One thousand adults, children and babies have received their cochlear implants at the Centre. To maintain this high level of activity and the reputation of the service, there is a continuous improvement plan based on audits of externally set Quality Standards for patient outcomes and satisfaction with the service, as well as audits of service delivery to local professionals. Julie Brinton has published a variety of papers in the field of rehabilitation and service delivery for deaf patients.

In 2004 Julie Brinton was elected chair of the British Cochlear Implant Group and in this capacity advised the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) who were undertaking a Technology Appraisal of cochlear implantation. The resulting document recommended bilateral cochlear implants for paediatric cases and this has lead to the UK being the first European country to state fund the procedure. In 2010 a Consortium of cochlear implant centres agreed to carry out a multi-site audit following the publication of the guidance. Julie Brinton is the manager of this national project which is based at the University of Southampton. Currently there is data on over 850 children, the largest cohort of bilaterally implanted children anywhere in the world. The data collected will lead to significant publications about paediatric bilateral implantation with far reaching impact in the field.

The University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service

The University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service (USAIS) was established within the ISVR as the South of England Cochlear Implant Centre (SOECIC) in 1990. From small beginnings in the first year, when two adults were implanted, the centre has grown rapidly, and 100 children and adults were implanted in 2012. This presentation will describe the service offered at the Auditory Implant Service, illustrate the patient pathway, demonstrate the technology, and report on recent audits and developments. A review of the key research being undertaken at the centre will be given.

Professor Tim Leighton, ISVR

Tim LeightonTimothy Leighton is Professor of Ultrasonics and Underwater Acoustics at the University of Southampton, UK; Chairman of the Fluid Dynamics and Acoustics Research Group in the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR); and Associate Dean with responsibility for research at the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment. His interests are in acoustics in liquids, from acoustical oceanography to biomedical ultrasonics.

He has Fellowships with the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Physics, the Institute of Acoustics, and the Acoustical Society of America. The Acoustical Society of America awarded him the 2013 Helmholtz-Rayleigh Interdisciplinary Silver Medal, and the inaugural (2004) International Medwin Prize for Acoustical Oceanography. The Institute of Physics awarded him its 2006 Paterson Medal. The International Commission of Acoustics awarded him its inaugural (2004) Early Career Medal and Award. The Institute of Chemical Engineering gave him its 2012 Award for ‘Water Management and Supply’. The Engineer gave him its 2008 Medical & Healthcare award. The Institute of Acoustics awarded him the 1994 A. B. Wood medal, the 2002 Tyndall medal, and the 2009 R. W. B. Stephens Medal. The Royal Society awarded him the 2011 Brian Mercer Award for Innovation.  The Acoustical Society of America has awarded him its 2013 Helmholtz-Rayleigh Interdisciplinary Silver Medal for contributions to Biomedical Acoustics, Physical Acoustics, and Acoustical Oceanography. It is only the fifth time since 1983 that the medal has been awarded as a result of three technical committees collaborating on a nomination.

Sound in space

Despite many years of space exploration, we have no records of the sounds of other planets. Probes have brought back high resolution images of landscapes, but no soundscapes. The movie industry and planetaria take great care to produce realistic visuals, but have no scientific basis on which to produce soundscapes for audiences. This talk explores how we might predict such sounds, and therefore devise appropriate instrumentation to measure them, and algorithms to invert them to estimate planetary conditions.

Professor Goran Pavić, Institut National des Sciences Appliquées, Lyon

Goran PavicGoran Pavić holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Acoustics and Vibration. After having spent 24 years in research in shipbuilding, electrotechnical and mechanical industries, he was elected to professorship at the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées in Lyon, France. His duties involve research and teaching in vibration, acoustics and signal processing.

His present research activities are in the areas of vibroacoustics of mechanical systems, virtual noise synthesis and energy related techniques of sound and vibration analysis. He has participated in nine international projects concerning noise and vibration, including four as the coordinator, and in several tens of industry funded projects as well as in the European Doctorate in Sound and Vibration programme. He is former associate editor of Acta Acustica and current associate editor of Technical Acoustics; former director of International Institute of Acoustics and Vibration and member of two ISO standardisation committees. He has published a number of journal articles and has presented a number of papers on various topics in the field of sound and vibration.

Modelling of vibration, sound and stresses using the Virtual Source Approach

Analytical solutions of acoustical, vibration or stress problems are available only for simple systems, e.g. a rectangular simply supported plate or a parallelepipedic cavity. A usual way of finding a solution where complex systems are concerned is to apply a discretised model using Finite Element or Boundary Element methods. Yet the use of analytical models is desirable for its simplicity and superior physical understanding of phenomena concerned. Furthermore the analytical models give the possibility of assessing quantities like the energy flow which are difficult to model numerically. The method of virtual sources enables one to obtain analytical solutions of systems of modestly complex geometry. The method consists in finding a suitable master system of known Green function, and applying to it a layer of virtual sources in such a way as to produce particular boundary conditions on a targeted part of the master system. The solution then applies to the targeted part which can be of any geometry.

The presentation will be accompanied by a number of examples illustrating the approach.


Mr Rob Harris, Global Acoustics Leader, Arup

Rob HarrisRob Harris is an acoustic engineer, auditorium acoustic designer and theatre consultant, and leads Arup's arts and culture business in the UK, Middle East and Africa.

Recent projects include the Kings Place recital hall in London, the Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin and the Kristiansand Performing Arts Centre in Norway. His credits include the Britten Opera Theatre at the Royal College of Music, Glyndebourne Opera House, the refurbishment of the Royal Opera House in London, the Wales Millennium Centre, the Operaen Copenhagen, the Oslo Opera House, and the refurbishment of the concert hall of the Royal College of Music, for which he led the theatre systems engineering team. He was elected a Fellow of The Royal Academy of Engineering in July 2009.

E J Richards Lecture; ‘Thirty Years of Auditorium Design’

The acoustic design of major auditoria - in particular concert halls and opera houses - has benefited from significant advances in acoustic parameter prediction and measurement techniques over the last 50 years. The objective parameters themselves, used to predict subjective responses to performance sound, have, however, shown less development.

Quite recently, the development of auralisation techniques has resulted in a paradigm shift in auditorium acoustic design. Nevertheless, our current auditoria designs can be shown to be as affected by people - strong personalities, reputations and fashions - as much as by scientific application. The “art or science” question still has validity.

In this lecture, one of the world’s leading auditorium acoustic designers will discuss how auditorium design has developed in the years that the ISVR has existed, based on his own projects including Bridgewater Hall Manchester, Glyndebourne Opera House, the Royal Opera House London, the Wales Millennium Centre, Oslo and Copenhagen Opera Houses, and concert halls in Sydney, Bruges, Kristiansand and London.


The E J Richards lecture will be introduced by Professor Brian Clarkson, Former Director of the ISVR

Brian ClarksonProfessor Brian Clarkson started his career as an aeronautical engineer at the de Havilland Aircraft Company in 1953.  In 1957 he joined the Aeronautics Department at the University of Southampton as a Research Fellow, and in 1958 was appointed Lecturer in the Aeronautics Department. 

He transferred from the Aeronautics Department to become a founder member of the ISVR, being appointed Professor of Vibration Studies in 1966 and succeeding Professor Richards as Director of the ISVR in 1967.

He was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1963 and was a Senior Research Associate at NASA in 1970. He was Dean of Engineering from 1978 to 1980 and Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Southampton from 1980 to 1982.

From 1972 to 1981 he was a member of the International Commission on Acoustics of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and was its Secretary for the last two years.  From 1987 to 1994 he was a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and its Chairman from 1992 to 1994. 

In 1982, he was appointed Principal of the University of Wales Swansea, a position he held for 12 years. He was awarded the honorary degree of DSc by the Universities of Leeds (1984), Southampton (1987) and Sains Malaysia (1990), and the honorary degree of LLD by the University of Wales (1996). He was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1986.  He is currently Emeritus Professor at Swansea University.

Professor Frank Fahy,  ISVR

Frank FahyFrank Fahy is Emeritus Professor of Engineering Acoustics in the ISVR which he joined at its inception in 1963. He has a wide spectrum of interests in acoustics and vibration, ranging from Statistical Energy Analysis to sound intensity measurement. In 2008 he was awarded the Helmholtz Medal of the German Acoustical Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Akustik) for ‘Outstanding contributions to research and education in engineering acoustics’, and was the first foreigner to be honoured with the award of their premier medal.  He is a recipient of the Tyndall Silver and Rayleigh Gold Medals of the Institute of Acoustics and is an Honorary Fellow of the IOA. He has written several widely read text books, including Sound Intensity, Sound and Structural Vibration, and Foundations of Engineering Acoustics, and he was joint editor with John Walker of Fundamentals of Noise and Vibration and Advanced Applications in Acoustics, Noise and Vibration.

Professor Fahy will chair the Friday Morning Session

Professor Mike Griffin, ISVR

Mike GriffinMichael Griffin obtained a PhD degree in 1972. After a period as a Research Fellow, he was appointed as a Lecturer in the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research in 1977, a Senior Lecturer in 1984, and Professor of Human Factors in 1991. He provides lectures on ‘Human Factors’ and ‘Human Responses to Vibration’ for graduate and postgraduate programmes at the University of Southampton. He is the author of more than 500 publications including 250 papers in refereed journals, the author of the Handbook of Human Vibration, and the author of chapters in more than 20 other books. Professor Griffin is the Chairman of the British Standards Institution Committee on human responses to vibration and shock, a member of relevant ISO and CEN Committees, and a member of the International Advisory Committees of Conferences on Hand-Arm Vibration and Whole-body Vibration. He is a member of the Ergonomics Society, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and the Aerospace Medical Association. Professor Griffin was awarded the Bartlett Medal of the Ergonomics Society for contributions to research in 1984, and the RWB Stephens Medal of the Institute of Acoustics for outstanding contributions to acoustical research and education in 2007.

Human vibrations

The first ISVR studies of human responses to vibration commenced in the Human Factors Research Unit around 1968. Over the subsequent 45 years, research in the laboratory, and research outside the laboratory, have sought to advance understanding of how we are affected by whole-body vibration, hand-transmitted vibration, and low frequency motions. Studies have investigated a wide range of psychological, physiological, pathological, and biodynamic responses. The growth of understanding has provided the basis for standardised methods of quantifying and predicting effects of vibration on human comfort, performance, and health and the optimisation of methods of preventing unwanted effects. The work of the multidisciplinary unit now ranges from biodynamics to the clinical diagnosis of patients with vibration disease, and from fundamental research with simple motions to high fidelity simulations of the 6-axis motions associated with present and future transport and structures. This presentation will celebrate the many students and staff who met their challenge and contributed to the foundations of understanding of human responses to vibration.


Professor Stuart Bolton, Ray W. Herrick Laboratories, School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University

Stuart BoltonJ. Stuart Bolton maintains an active research programme in Noise Control and related disciplines.  He obtained his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Toronto, and then MSc and PhD degrees from the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton.  Since joining the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University in 1984, he has supervised more than 70 graduate students and has published more than 70 archival journal articles and more than 200 conference articles and presentations.  

His research sponsors have included the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Transportation, General Electric Corp., Sony Corp., LG Electronics, Isuzu Motor Co., Cummins Engines, 3M Corp., IBM, Caterpillar Inc., General Motors, United Technologies Research Center, Johnson Controls Inc., Boeing Commercial Aircraft Company, Douglas Aircraft Co., Ford Motor Co., Michelin Tires, and Continental Tires.  He has research interests in Acoustical Materials (theoretical modelling, experimental methods, numerical modelling, optimal design), Sound Field Visualization (multi-reference near-field acoustical holography, optimal design of far-field arrays), Acoustical and Structural Wave Propagation (wave propagation in and sound radiation from tyres), Noise Control (fan noise, and consumer electronics), and Signal Processing (time-frequency methods).  He is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, and of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering, and has received the Institute of Noise Control Engineering Outstanding Educator Award.  He is former America’s editor of the Journal of Sound and Vibration, and is currently Vice President for Publications for the Institute of Noise Control Engineering.  He has served as technical programme chair of Noise-Con 88, Noise-Con 98, Noise-Con 2005, Inter-Noise 95, Inter-Noise 2009 and the 1996 Spring Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America.

Starting out in porous materials: The influence of boundary conditions on the performance of noise control materials

I first encountered porous materials in an academic context while helping Phil Doak with an undergraduate lab that involved using a probe tube to measure sound propagation into a deep layer of fibrous material.  To help interpret the results, Phil produced, in amazingly short order, ten pages of dense, hand-written notes in which he derived the basics of sound propagation in porous materials.  These notes were very valuable to my initial understanding of the important physical aspects of how sound interacts with porous materials.  This initial experience also gave me some confidence that experimental results could be accurately predicted theoretically and served as the foundation for the part of my PhD work related to poroelastic materials such as foams. 

In this talk, I will review Phil Doak’s notes and place them in the context of earlier work on porous materials.  Then certain previously unreported aspects of my PhD work at the ISVR will be described, particularly as they relate to the importance of surface boundary conditions on the sound absorption performance of noise control materials.  In particular, the impact of front and rear surface boundary conditions on the performance of layers of foams will be demonstrated and the possibility of enhanced low frequency sound absorption performance will be discussed.  These findings provided one main theme in my work on noise control materials during the following thirty years, and also lead to an interest in the acoustical impact of noise control material inhomogeneity.  The latter impact will be demonstrated by considering the effects of segmenting poroelastic materials into finite-sized, constrained pieces.  It will be shown, for example, that internal constraints can greatly enhance barrier performance, but that a weight penalty is inevitably incurred.  Finally, a connection will be drawn with recently developed cellular metamaterials, whose performance similarly depends on finite length-scales and internal constraints.


Mr Colin Smith CBE, Director – Engineering & Technology, Rolls-Royce

Colin Smith CBEColin Smith CBE was appointed as Director – Engineering & Technology in 2005, when he also became a member of the Board of Rolls-Royce. His roles immediately before this appointment were the Director of Research & Technology and the Director of Engineering & Technology for Civil Aerospace.

Colin joined Rolls-Royce as an undergraduate apprentice in 1974. Following graduation in Mechanical Engineering, he worked in a number of roles including Chief Engineer on helicopters and subsequently the Trent 700 and Trent 500.

Colin is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, The Royal Aeronautical Society and The Institution of Mechanical Engineers and was a Royal Academy Silver Medal winner in 2002. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science by the University of Strathclyde in June 2007, an Honorary Doctorate of Science by the University of Southampton in July 2008 and an Honorary Doctorate of Technology from Loughborough University in July 2010.  He is Chairman of the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust.

Colin was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in June 2012.

Noise challenges in civil aerospace

A short history of the key technological developments in managing noise on Rolls-Royce’s civil aerospace products will be presented, outlining the targets and challenges facing the industry, and how these will drive key design decisions in the coming years. The importance of collaboration in delivering these future solutions will be highlighted.


Mr John Shelton, AcSoft

John SheltonJohn Shelton joined the ISVR as an undergraduate in Acoustical Engineering in 1976, and completed his MSc in Sound & Vibration Studies in 1981. His keen interest in hi-fi led him to join Goodmans Loudspeakers, where he scratched an itch in loudspeaker design, using new laser measurement techniques. After joining Brüel & Kjær UK in 1983, he went on to specialise in sound intensity measuring techniques, and managing technical sales in the UK. Moving to Brüel & Kjær in Denmark in 1991 brought an international dimension, developing markets in the new VXI test systems technology, and software-based measurement for sound & vibration applications.

John started his current company, AcSoft, in 1994 specialising in PC-based measurement systems, and now covers applications such as sound quality, beamforming, environmental noise & vibration, electroacoustics and speech quality, representing a family of leading international suppliers. A new company, Svantek UK, was added to the portfolio in 2011 focusing on health & safety applications.

A member of the Institute of Acoustics, John sits on the Measurement & Instrumentation, and Central Branch committees. He is also a member of the National Measurement System working group for BIS, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

Seeing the wood for the trees? Advances in sound and vibration measurement instrumentation

In the early days of the ISVR, instrumentation for noise and vibration consisted of, often large, analogue analysers and filters, fed by 1" microphones and valve preamplifiers from a very small range of specialist manufacturers. Even calculating a Fourier Transform often involved a walk across the campus with a handful of punch cards.

The last 30 years have seen an inexorable move from analogue to digital, hardware to software, mainframes to PCs, and towards soft metrology. These days, real-time FFT analysis can be done on a smartphone, but has all this development resulted in better measurements?

This presentation gives an overview of the progressive changes, and highlights areas where we still have to be careful, before we accept all the available information as useful.


Professor Joe Hammond, ISVR

Joe HammondJoseph (Joe) Hammond graduated in Aeronautical Engineering in 1966 at the University of Southampton. He completed his PhD in the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) in 1972 whilst a lecturer in the Mathematics Department at Portsmouth Polytechnic. He returned to Southampton in 1978 as a lecturer in the ISVR, and was later Senior lecturer, Professor, Deputy Director and then Director of the ISVR from 1992-2001. In 2001 he became Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and in 2003 Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Science and Mathematics. He retired in 2007 and is an Emeritus Professor at Southampton. 


Professor Hammond will chair the Friday Afternoon Session

Professor Paul White, ISVR

Paul WhitePaul White graduated from Portsmouth Polytechnic in 1985 with a degree in Mathematics and in 1992 obtained his PhD in the ISVR studying the application of adaptive filters to infrared sensor systems. In 1988 he became a lecturer in ISVR, the lectureship being sponsored by the then Admiralty Research Establishment (later to become DERA Farnborough). He was promoted to the position of Senior Lecturer in 1998 and became a Professor in 2004. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Condition Monitoring and Diagnostic Engineering Management (COMADEM) and serves on the Executive Team of the Signal Processing Professional Network in the Institution of Engineering and Technology (formerly the IEE).

Sound in the marine environment

The oceans are naturally noisy places teeming with a vast array of marine life forms.  Many sea animals exploit sound in many different ways: from whales singing to attract a mate, through dolphins echo-locating to visualise their environment, through to shrimp that use acoustics to stun their prey.  Man’s growing exploitation of the ocean’s rich resources has led to an increase in the amount of anthropogenic noise in the marine environment.  The impact of these noise sources on marine life is poorly understood, partly because of the wide variety of animals potentially affected and partly because of the problems associated with studying many species at sea.  This talk will describe research on the impact of noise in the ocean, work on how marine mammals use and react to sound and on how acoustics is a powerful tool for exploring these impacts.

Mr John Dixon, ISVR Consulting

John DixonJohn Dixon joined the ISVR in 1971 upon Graduating in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Southampton. He was a founder member of the Automotive Design Advisory Unit in 1972 and went on to manage the Unit from 1993 to 2002. Over the years John has carried out commercially sponsored research into most aspects of road vehicle refinement with his special interests being in low noise engine design, vehicle noise path analysis and exterior noise optimisation. Since his (so-called) retirement he has increasingly mixed work with pleasure, transferring the noise and vibration control knowledge of the Automotive Industry to the world of the Superyacht.

Automotive engineering is silenced at Southampton

Whilst 2013 is the year to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the founding of ISVR, it now looks likely that it will also be the year to commiserate with the end of serious automotive engineering in Southampton. For after 48 years, it is now planned to close the Ford plant at Swaythling and therefore sadly Southampton will no longer be “The Home of the Transit”.  

For nearly all of those years, the ISVR has had a not insignificant role in refining this iconic vehicle and it therefore seems appropriate to take the Transit van as an example of the world wide impact that ISVR has made on the automotive industry over the past 50 years.  

The presentation will outline the fundamental reasons why the Transit van offers so many challenges to the noise and vibration engineer. Methods for suppressing the inherent low frequency interior “boom” will be discussed and examples of how research mistakes can lead to novel solutions will be given.

Professor Steve Elliott, ISVR

Steve ElliottStephen Elliott graduated with joint honours in physics and electronics from the University of London in 1976 and received the Ph.D. degree from the University of Surrey for a thesis on musical acoustics in 1979.

After a short period as a research fellow working on acoustic intensity measurement and as a temporary lecturer at the University of Surrey, he was appointed lecturer at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) at the University of Southampton, UK, in 1982, under the SERC Special Replacement Scheme. He was made senior lecturer at ISVR in 1988 and Professor of Adaptive Systems in 1994.

He has authored three books and published 200 papers in refereed journals, and produced over 400 conference papers and other reports.

Professor Elliott is a member of the Acoustical Society of America, a Senior Member of the IEEE and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (formerly the IEE) and the Institute of Acoustics. He was jointly awarded the Tyndall Medal by the Institute of Acoustics in 1992, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2009.

Active control of vibration in aircraft and in the cochlea

Active vibration control is now used commercially to suppress propeller-induced noise inside aircraft and there are now over 1,000 of these systems in service. Recent research has focused on the use of multiple local feedback loops for vibration reduction in aircraft, with self-tuning controllers that can adapt to their environment.

The active process that enhances the vibration within the cochlea, which provides us with our exquisitely sensitive and selective hearing, are also generated by the action of many local feedback loops, in this case due to the outer hair cells. Modelling this process using similar theory to that developed for engineering systems highlights the remarkable properties of the cochlea and its use of self-tuning.

Such models also provide insight into the changes in the processing of acoustic signals by the cochlea as it ages, when the function of the outer hair cells is diminished. This analysis may help to understand how the problem of the hearing impaired might be more effectively compensated for in hearing aids or reproduced in cochlear implants.

Dr Stefan Bleeck, ISVR

Stefan BleeckStefan Bleeck has a degree in Physics and did his Ph.D. in experimental neuroscience in Darmstadt, Germany. He then joined the “Centre of the Neural Basis of Hearing” in Cambridge where he worked on psychophysics, physiology and modelling of hearing. In 2005 he joined the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton. 

The aim of Stefan’s research is to understand how we hear sound and to use this knowledge to create bio-inspired solutions to enhance speech communication. His work is interdisciplinary and he has supervised countless undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD students in Audiology, Acoustical Engineering, Sound and Vibration Studies and Advanced Mechanical Engineering. In 2009 Stefan was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s teaching award for designing the Research Methods module.  Stefan is the head of the Hearing and Balance Centre in the ISVR.

How can we help hearing impaired people to better understand speech?

Hearing aids (HA) can profoundly transform the lives of people with hearing impairments but in the UK alone about 6 million such people do not use them, partly, because they are not good in noise. Speech enhancement strategies for HA have been generally developed on the basis of mathematical, but not physiological principles and have so far failed to significantly improve speech intelligibility in noise. One research stream in the Hearing and Balance Centre is to improve hearing aids by finding better enhancement strategies.

The central hypothesis in this work is that we can select certain parts of the noisy stimulus that contains the important speech information and present only them to the impaired ear. The problem is selecting the right parts of the stimulus, and all attempts of signal based algorithms so far had only limited success. Our approach is inspired by the peripheral auditory system and we use psychophysical and physiological concepts such as pitch, onset synchrony or cross-channel modulation as the basis of our algorithms.

In my talk I will give an overview of how speech perception can be improved and what the limitations of current solutions have been. I will also report from new results of our work and how they can make a difference for the next generation of hearing devices.

Professor Jeremy Astley, Director of the ISVR

Jeremy AstleyJeremy Astley joined the ISVR in March 2001 as Rolls-Royce Professor of Computational Aeroacoustics, and chairs the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Gas Turbine Noise. He graduated in Mathematics from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch New Zealand and completed a PhD in mathematics at Bristol University in 1973. Since then he has held academic positions at the University of Nottingham, the University of Missouri-Rolla, and the University of Canterbury, and visiting fellowships at the Universities of Hull, Durham and Colorado (Boulder).

He is best known for his research on special Finite Element and Infinite Element techniques for computational acoustics, and in particular the application of these methods to acoustic radiation from aero-engine nacelles. He has played a leading role in the development of such methods and is author of more than 50 journal articles on this topic. More recently he has applied more general ‘wave-based’ numerical techniques to the nacelle problem.

He is a subject editor for the Journal of Sound and Vibration, has served as associate editor for the AIAA Journal, and is a member of the editorial board of the International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering. He is also a UK representative on the CEAS Aero-acoustics Specialists Committee (ASC), an international member of the AIAA aeroacoustics technical committee, and a UK representative on the Scientific Committee of the ‘X-Noise’ thematic network, funded by the European Commission to coordinate aircraft noise research in Europe. In 1999 Professor Astley was awarded a higher Doctorate (Doctor of Engineering) by the University of Canterbury for his work on finite and infinite elements. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, the Institution of Professional Engineers of New Zealand, and the International Institute for Acoustics and Vibration (IIAV). In 2001 Professor Astley was elected to Distinguished International Membership of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering of the United States of America. He is currently Director of the ISVR.

Professor Astley will give the Closing address