Acoustical Society of America
R. Bruce Lindsay Award - 1998

Paul E. Barbone

Paul E. Barbone was born on 18 November 1965, in Long Beach, California. His family moved to the New York City area when Paul was two, but eventually settled in Goshen, a small city situated midway between the Hudson and Delaware rivers in southern New York state. At Goshen Central High School, his calculus teacher Mr. Lyons, was a major stimulant in awakening Paul's interest in applied mathematics and the science of mechanics. After finishing high school in 1983, Paul went on to Georgia Tech; the choice was partly because it was one of the few leading engineering schools that offered a degree program in Engineering Science and Mechanics (ESM). In contrast to most of his peers, many of whom needed five years to complete the four-year curriculum, Paul found the undergraduate work at Georgia Tech relatively easy. By the end of his freshman year, he had firmly decided to graduate by the end of his third year, and he did so mainly by taking more courses each term than was normally prescribed in the curriculum.

At Georgia Tech, Paul escaped the influence of the acoustics researchers there, who were largely housed in the mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering departments, but his interest in applied mechanics (which encompasses a large portion of modern acoustics) continued to strengthen. A seminar given on dynamics at Georgia Tech by Thomas R. Kane, a Stanford professor, had a catalytic effect on Paul's decision to continue his education with graduate work in the Applied Mechanics Division at Stanford.

During Paul's early years at Stanford, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) launched a major new research effort in structural acoustics, with substantial funding from DARPA. Stanford was awarded a major grant as part of this effort, with Peter Pinsky as the Principal Investigator. Co-investigators included George Herrmann and Joseph B. Keller, both of whom had long-standing research interests in wave propagation Paul did his MS work with a concentration in solid mechanics and began to work with Herrmann under the auspices of the grant on problems of acoustic wave propagation in fluid-loaded laminated elastic cylinders and fluid-loaded anisotropic laminated elastic and piezoelectric plates. There was substantial interchange among those working on the ONR grant, and Paul eventually became matched with Joseph Keller for his doctoral dissertation. This latter work addressed the problem of scattering of incident plane acoustic waves from an inhomogeneous elastic target using perturbation and asymptotic methods. Keller, who is one of this century's foremost contributors to the invention of new mathematical approaches to problems in wave propagation, proved to be an excellent mentor, and Paul's thesis was an excellent vehicle for learning advanced mathematical techniques that apply to acoustic wave problems.

The Office of Naval Research had frequent workshops reviewing the work on the overall program, and the Stanford group participated at each of these. The chief responsibility for reporting on the group's accomplishments was held by the principal investigator, but the work of the co-investigators was sometimes reported by their students. Paul's participation in this capacity at the workshops made a highly favorable impression on the structural acoustics community, especially on Albert Tucker, the ONR Program Director. Tucker, along with several of his peers, was greatly concerned at that time that the leading US theoretical researches in acoustics were aging and that there were almost no young people in the pipeline who showed promise of eventually developing into comparable stature.

Cambridge University had emerged as a leading European center for theoretical acoustics, and a strong interaction had developed between its researchers and those in the United States who were carrying out Navy-related research in acoustics. David Crighton of the Cambridge Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) was one of those who were very impressed by a presentation that Paul gave at an ONR Structural Acoustics Workshop in 1990 in Austin. There were several good discussions that took place between Paul and others at the meeting, and an ensuing result was that Tucker and Crighton undertook to organize a special fellowship that would allow Paul to do a postdoctoral stint at Cambridge within Crighton's department. Paul was encouraged to take the fellowship and to continue to develop as an acoustics researcher by Geoffrey Main, who succeeded Tucker as the Program Director.

Cambridge's DAMTP was a stimulating environment for Paul; in addition to the senior eminent faculty, it housed a substantial number of talented young research associates with high intellectual aspirations. The space was crowded and lively; Paul's desk was frequently decked with cables strewn by television crews who were interviewing his next door neighbor, astrophysicist and science celebrity Stephen Hawking. There were teas every afternoon with special table cloths that became covered with mathematical equations written during the exuberance of intense scientific discussions. Paul collaborated with Crighton while in Cambridge, and also with his office mate, Mark Spivak, who stimulated Paul's interest in waves in irregular and random media. The fellowship had a generous travel allowance, and Paul was encouraged to visit other European acoustics research groups and to continue the liaison work that had been carried on by David Feit, who had served a stint at the ONR office in London, but who had returned to the Navy laboratory at Carderock.

Paul's potential availability after his Cambridge fellowship was well-known to the US acoustics and applied mechanics communities. Allan Pierce wrote to Barbone in January 1993, a good six months before Pierce was slated to leave Penn State to take over the chairmanship of Boston University's (BU) Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. This was also a year before the end of Paul's fellowship term. Paul was courted by other institutions, but eventually settled upon BU, joining the faculty in January 1994. Paul had given considerable thought to his agenda at BU long before then, and had done considerable homework and spadework on possible new areas of research that might attract prestigious funding. Biomedical ultrasonic imaging seemed like a natural area to pursue because of Boston University's established long-term reputation in biomedical engineering and, even though this area was somewhat afield from his past research, he sought out opinions on what were the outstanding research problems, and he succeeded in winning an NSF Research Initiation Award to study asymptotic methods in medical ultrasound within a few months after arriving at BU. Other grants followed in rapid succession from ONR, including a prestigious ONR Young Investigator Award. In addition to the enduring collaboration with Spivak in Cambridge, other productive collaborations developed, some with other BU faculty, and some with faculty elsewhere. One especially fruitful association is that with Isaac Harari, whom Paul first met when the two of them were graduate students at Stanford; Harari at that time was working with Professor Hughes and is now on the faculty of the Technion in Israel. Harari's considerable strengths in computational acoustics and Paul's strengths in asymptotic methods was the nucleus of the expansion of each other's expertise and resulted in a string of epochal papers on innovative approaches to the solution of complicated problems in acoustics. Paul's papers, whether written by himself or coauthored with others, tend to be masterpieces of clear writing, with the objectives clearly stated, succinct mathematical developments, and a scholarly of the prior literature and of the setting amongst that literature of the current paper.

After his return to the United States, Paul became a regular participant in meetings of the Acoustical Society, which is his primary professional affiliation. His presentations span a broad range of topics pertaining to physical acoustics, underwater acoustics, structural acoustics, and biomedical ultrasound. Although his work often involves the most sophisticated mathematical concepts, he enjoys a reputation for giving interesting clear talks that stimulate discussion. This talent is mirrored by his success at Boston University as a teacher and a mentor. That he is indeed a great mentor was demonstrated to the Acoustical Society at the May 1996 meeting in Indianapolis. The Structural Acoustics and Vibration Technical Committee has an annual student paper contest. One of Paul's students, Aravind Cherukuri, won second prize in that year's competition. Another of Paul's students, Joshua Montgomery, won first prize. It is commonly believed that the selection committee had great difficulty in deciding which of the two should have received first prize and which should have received second prize. They were both extraordinarily good papers.

Paul married Debora Compton, who was soon to receive her doctorate from Stanford and who is now a BU faculty member, in the Stanford University Chapel in August 1994. The couple lives in Newton, Massachusetts, but makes frequent visits back to California to see their relatives and to visit their former professors and colleagues at Stanford.

The Acoustical Society of America is pleased to add Paul E. Barbone to the eminent list of names of past Biennial Award and Lindsay Award winners. It wishes him continued success in his future endeavors and applauds the chain of events that has channeled this outstanding young talent to acoustics.