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 Arizona State University studying the applications of augmented reality in the classroom. She graduated with her MS in 2017 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying Architectural Engineering and looking at the impacts of acoustics on the indoor classroom environment. She came in to acoustics, as many do, through a love of music. She studied Music (Audio Engineering) at Brigham Young University (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 include Technology, Signal Processing, Noise, and Architectural Engineering, with favorite projects including working with a crowd-sourced restaurant noise awareness app, studying the acoustics of an opera that premiered inside an art gallery, and her work with the US Naval Research Laboratories. 

Aside from research, Kieren enjoys traveling, hiking, stand up paddleboarding, 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: Hilary Kates Varghese

University of New Hampshire

Hilary Kates Varghese is a PhD student in Earth Science-Oceanography at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire. She holds a B.Sc. in the Biological Sciences from Cornell University with distinction in research and a M.Sc. in Applied Mathematics from Florida Gulf Coast University. Her research focuses on the potential effects of multibeam echosounder signals (used for ocean mapping) on beaked whale foraging and the marine acoustic environment. Broadly her interests are in the potential effects of anthropogenic noise on marine life and the intersection of this topic with marine policy.

In her free time, Hilary likes all things outdoors–hiking, running, biking, kayaking, camping, and hammocking. Other top choices are exploring new places and watching funny movies on the couch with her husband and two cats.

Don’t hesitate to contact Hilary with any ASA or Animal Bioacoustics questions!

Acoustical Oceanography Representative: Liz Weidner

University of New Hampshire & Stockholm University

Elizabeth Weidner is a jointly appointed PhD student at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire and at the Geological Sciences Department of Stockholm University in Sweden. Prior to her PhD work, Elizabeth received her BS in Oceanography from the University of Washington, worked as a geophysicist in industry for several years, and received her MSc in Earth Sciences from the University of New Hampshire. Her current research focuses on the broadband discrimination and characterization of bubble seeps, stratification interfaces, and freshwater plumes in the ocean environment.

When she’s not working, you can find her hiking in the White Mountains or training for the next road race. Come find her and introduce yourself during the next ASA meeting, or reach out via email with any questions.

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: Mark Rau

Stanford University

Mark Rau is a Canadian PhD student at Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). He received a M.A. in Music, Science, and Technology from Stanford as well as B.Mus. in jazz guitar and B.Sci. in physics degrees from McGill University. His research interests involve anything that involves guitars or audio effects often used with guitars. He is particularly focussed in physical modeling synthesis and its applications to luthiery.

In his spare time, Mark enjoys playing guitar and upright bass, building guitars, hiking in the Sierras, golfing, and sailing in the San Francisco Bay.

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: Blake Simon

University of Texas at Austin

Blake Simon is a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin in the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering. He primarily works in the field of nonlinear acoustics. He is a graduate research assistant at the Applied Research Laboratories (ARL) at UT Austin. His research focuses on nonlinear fractional diffusion waves and their potential applications. Blake’s technical background is heavy on analytical and numerical modeling. He is also very active in the regional ASA chapter in Austin and a member of the ARL student council.

In his spare time, Blake enjoys playing guitar, working out, hiking, and reading. A born-and-raised Texan, Blake has a passion for local Texas country music, cowboy boots and Honky-tonks. Come meet him at any of the ASA meetings, or feel free to reach him via email.

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: Matthew Byrne

University of Texas at Austin

Matt is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. His present research focuses on developing self-interference cancellation (SIC) techniques for applications acoustic measurement systems with simultaneous transmit and receive functionality. Matt has also worked on theoretical and experimental investigations of acoustic metamaterials, including devices that demonstrate compressibility-near-zero acoustic supercoupling. He previously earned his MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from UT Austin in 2018 and his BS in Electrical Engineering and Physics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011.

In his spare time, Matt enjoys learning guitar, practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, hiking, and playing video games. Please feel free to introduce yourself at any of the upcoming ASA meetings, or to reach out via e-mail with any questions.

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.