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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

UMass Amherst Professor Elected to the Acoustical Society of America

Dr. Karen Helfer, professor of communication disorders in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, was recently elected as a fellow in the Acoustical Society of America. She will be recognized, along with others in the 2015 cohort, at the Society’s spring meeting being held in May 2016 in Salt Lake City.

[Photo: Dr. Karen Helfer]

Fellows are “recognized for their conspicuous service or notable contributions to the advancement or diffusion of the knowledge of acoustics or the fostering of its practical applications.” Election as a Fellow is among the highest honors a member of the Society can achieve.

Dr. Helfer was elected based on her contributions to speech perception in aging. Her research focuses on factors that influence the ability to understand speech in adverse listening situations, such as in the presence noise, reverberation, and other people talking, and in particular how aging affects speech understanding in these realistic listening conditions. Over the past few years she has focused on why speech understanding, especially in the presence of competing speech, is so challenging for older adults in particular. Current lines of research are aimed at defining how much of this problem is due to age-related changes in the periphery vs. what is caused by senescent changes in top-down processing by the brain.

“I feel honored to be nominated and grateful for the NIH for funding my work, and for the support of my colleagues,” says Dr. Helfer.

Founded in 1929, the Acoustical Society of America now includes about 7500 individuals representing a variety of fields related to sound.