Meet the Student Council

The ASA Student Council is composed of a chairperson and 13 representatives who each represent one Technical Committee (TC). Below, you can learn more about each member of the student council.

Student Council Chair: Kieren Smith

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Kieren is a Ph.D. student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying Architectural Engineering. She came in to acoustics, as many do, through a love of music. She studied Music (Sound Recording) at BYU, minoring in Physics and in Math. She discovered a passion for research with the BYU Acoustics Research Group, studying musician noise exposure in the large musical ensemble environment. Her current research interests span somewhere between Noise and Architectural Engineering, with favorite projects including work with a crowd-sourced restaurant noise awareness app and work studying the acoustics of an opera that premiered inside an art gallery.

Aside from research, Kieren enjoys hiking, climbing, and baking and is always eager to discover a new trail or learn a new recipe.

Architectural Acoustics Representative: Mallory Morgan

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Mallory is an Architectural Acoustics PhD student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she also earned her MS in Architectural Acoustics. Her current work focuses on deploying machine learning techniques and microphone arrays for environmental sound classification in the Lake George, NY watershed. Mallory hopes her work will help answer ecological questions from an acoustical perspective, by estimating populations, mapping ranges, or assessing the impacts of human-generated noise, for example. She has also worked to automatically classify human emotion from recordings of collaborative meetings in order to predict individual leadership and contribution. She first fell in love with acoustics while making sound field diffusivity measurements in a variety of spaces as a physics/mathematics double-major at Vassar College.

When not in the data mines, Mallory enjoys boxing, hiking, gardening, escape rooms, and the oxford comma.

Animal Bioacoustics Representative: Kali Burke

University at Buffalo, SUNY

Kali is a student in the Cognitive Psychology PhD program at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. She received a BA in Psychology from Daemen College, with an undergraduate honor’s project on head injuries, cognitive functioning, and memory outcomes. In Dr. Micheal Dent’s animal bioacoustics laboratory she has studied mouse vocalizations in response to a variety of social situations and has investigated whether there are individual specific or sex specific features to these vocalizations. She has also worked with Dr. Marieke van Heugten in the Buffalo Babylab looking at how children and adults make inferences about word meanings differently when a speaker has an accent. Kali is now working on her dissertation investigating how traumatic brain injuries affect the auditory system and auditory perception in mice.

In her free time, Kali enjoys playing board and card games as well as challenging any takers in Super Smash Brothers on the N64.

Acoustical Oceanography Representative: Matt Zeh

University of Texas at Austin

Matt is a third year PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin in the Graduate Program in Acoustics within the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Originally from Morgantown, WV, he attended West Virginia University where he received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.M. in Music Education. At UT, Matt is currently studying the acoustic environment of glacierized fjords with a specific interest in the contributions made by the release of bubbles from compressed air within glacier ice. Although his current work is concentrated in AO, Matt’s research interests and experiences stem into other branches of acoustics, including architectural and physical acoustics.

When he’s not busy performing research, Matt enjoys keeping up his “chops” playing music (percussion), traveling with his wife, Sarah, and taking his dog Watson on crime-solving adventures/walks. If you run into him at a future ASA conference, make sure to introduce yourself! Or, feel free to contact him via email.

Biomedical Acoustics Representative: Asis Lopez

Tulane University

Asis, an NSF IGERT Fellow and Past SACNAS Board Member, received his Bioengineering B.S. in rehabilitative biomedical robotics from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). As a post-bac in the University of California, San Francisco Pediatric Device Consortium he worked on the development of an FDA pre-approved medical device to treat pectus carinatum. He returned to UCSC and worked in the Genome Sequencing Center optimizing the center’s library prep for next generation sequencing with automation. Currently, Asis is in the Bioinnovation PhD program at Tulane University combining his passion for translational research and entrepreneurship by developing tools for ultrasound applications. As an NSF-FDA Scholar-in-Residence fellow at the FDA he investigates vessel-rupture thresholds through high-intensity therapeutic ultrasound for blood-brain barrier applications. At Tulane, he is developing a therapeutic device for spinal cord injury through low-intensity ultrasound. Asis is also an NSF I-Corps awardee working towards the commercialization of a technology — in this case, a levitation device providing blood coagulation analysis.

 Asis enjoys watching all types of horror movies including the classics, international films, and cult favorites. When not watching movies he participates in water sports such as Hawaiian Outrigger. As a curious individual  he appreciates new foods, activities, and books.


Engineering Acoustics Representative: Thomas Blanford

Pennsylvania State University

Thomas is a Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate Program in Acoustics at Penn State.  There he works at the Applied Research Laboratory researching arrays and signal processing for underwater acoustic navigation.  He received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.  Prior to coming to Penn State, Thomas spent five years in industry in Boston, MA developing high performance, low power MEMS microphones for hearing aids and consumer electronics.  His research interests include the design and modeling of transducers and arrays, acoustic navigation, and signal processing for synthetic aperture sonar.

In his spare time, Thomas enjoys biking, cooking, and playing the mandolin, guitar, and banjo.

Please introduce yourself during the next ASA meeting, and feel free to contact him with any questions you have.

Musical Acoustics Representative: Eric Rokni

Pennsylvania State University

Eric Rokni is currently a PhD student in the department of Acoustics at Penn State. In 2018 he received his Bachelor’s degree at Rollins College in both physics and music. While studying for his undergraduate degree, he performed musical acoustics research where he investigated the nonlinear contributions of wooden components in the piano to its overall sound. Eric is currently doing biomedical research at Penn State, but musical acoustics will always be a passion of his.

In his time off, Eric enjoys playing cello and tennis as well as cheering on his favorite hometown Wisconsin sports teams.

Noise Representative: Aaron Vaughn

Brigham Young University

Aaron is physics graduate student at Brigham Young University. As an undergraduate at BYU, he performed spectral decompositions of supersonic laboratory-scale and high-performance military aircraft jet noise. This work helps improve noise field characterization of military aircraft which in turn will aid future noise mitigation efforts. Continuing in this research as a graduate student, he now focuses on the perceptual feature of crackle in jet noise. This current research involves beamforming crackle-related events in the near field of an aircraft and relating it to subjective listening studies of waveforms collected in the far field.

Outside of his academic endeavors, Aaron enjoys video games, basketball (go Jazz!), volunteering annually as a translator for a Japanese marching band at the Rose Parade, and playing trumpet in a funk band.

Physical Acoustics Representative: Will Doebler

Pennsylvania State University

Will Doebler is pursuing a Ph.D. in Acoustics at Penn State University. He earned a B.A. in Physics with Honors from Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, MN. At Gustavus, Will worked on quantifying the nonlinear acoustic radiation force from air-coupled ultrasound transducers for nondestructive, noncontact modal analysis. In 2015, he was an Honorable Mention Thomas D. Rossing Physics Scholar. At Penn State, Will studies aircraft sonic boom phenomena. From 2015-2016, he was an Applied Research Laboratory and FAA Walker Fellow working on techniques to remove the effects of atmospheric turbulence from ground measurements of sonic booms and analysis of sonic boom metrics regarding turbulence. Currently, he is a NASA Aeronautics Scholarship and Advanced STEM Training and Research (AS&ASTAR) Fellow with NASA Langley working on understanding the effects of the atmosphere on sonic boom ground ensonification zone sizes and loudnesses.

Psychological and Physiological Acoustics Representative: Daniel Guest

University of Minnesota

Daniel is originally from Austin, TX and received his BS in Psychology from the University of Texas at Dallas. At UT Dallas, he worked in Dr. Peter Assmann’s Speech Perception Lab studying the perception of voice gender and age in children’s speech. Daniel is currently pursuing a PhD in Psychology in the Cognitive and Brain Sciences program at the University of Minnesota, where he works in Dr. Andrew Oxenham’s Auditory Perception and Cognition Lab. His research uses psychophysical and computational methods to investigate the role of pitch in auditory scene analysis and the neural code for pitch.

When he’s not doing research, Daniel spends his time reading, cooking, biking, and playing synthesizers. Introduce yourself at the next ASA meeting and don’t hesitate to reach out with questions.

Structural Acoustics and Vibration Representative: Colby Cushing

University of Texas at Austin

Colby is a Mechanical Engineering graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin working on the experimental validation of underwater acoustic metamaterials. He received his BS in Aerospace Engineering at Penn State focusing in aircraft function and design.  He also worked for General Dynamics Electric Boat designing nuclear submarines in both fluids systems and acoustic signatures. His current research includes deeply subwavelength attenuation panels for remotely operated underwater vehicles, testing of 2D and 3D pentamode structures, testing of anisotropic inertial metamaterials, and testing of underwater Helmholtz resonators for bianisotropic applications.

In his free time, Colby enjoys singing, playing beach or indoor volleyball, and ice skating. He is very active in the regional ASA chapter in Austin, having served as Treasurer and then being elected Chair. Come find him at the ASA conferences and introduce yourself, or contact him via email.

Speech Communication Representative: Miran Oh

University of Southern California

Miran Oh is a PhD student at the University of Southern California in Linguistics working in the Speech Production and Articulation kNowledge group (SPAN). Her research uses acoustic and articulatory approaches to investigate speech and prosodic variation by analyzing speech imaging data. She has developed an object tracking tool applicable to vocal tract imaging data such as real-time Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Her interests lie in understanding dynamics and coordination of speech movements, with a specific interest in the articulatory gestural composition and actions that comprise complex speech configurations. Prior to her study in Los Angeles, she received her BA in English Language and Literature and her MA in Linguistics at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea.
In addition to her research, Miran spends time surfing, watching movies, exploring new ice cream places, and she always seeks new activities.

Signal Processing in Acoustics Representative: Michael Rollins

University of Cincinnati

Michael is a PhD Biomedical Engineering student at the University of Cincinnati (the original UC:). He invested his undergraduate experience at BYU studying speech and acoustics, culminating in capstone research about vocal changes in response to a room’s reverberation. He was literally reinventing the international phonetic alphabet (IPA) chart for English and Spanish consonants before he discovered that speech science is an existing field. Now, he studies speech disorders in children using field data and 3D printed bench models of the vocal tract.

Michael balances his scientific endeavors by playing piano for musical theatre and church; pondering puzzles, puns, and recreational mathematics; and summarizing his life in third person.

Underwater Acoustics Representative: Alex Padilla

University of New Hampshire

Alexandra Padilla (aka Alex) graduated from the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Applied Mathematics. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Ocean Engineering with a focus in Underwater Acoustics. Her research is focused on the acoustic scattering properties of gas bubbles in a fluid medium (in this case the ocean… or in a test tank) and understanding how the shape of the bubbles affect their acoustic response.

If she is not in the lab, you will find her either baking treats for her friends, talking to herself in Spanish (so if you speak Spanish find her) or reading in a corner with music.