Acoustical Society of America
R. Bruce Lindsay Award - 2005

Lily M. Wang

Lily Wang has a contagious enthusiasm for life and acoustics, reinforced with responsibility, determination and resilience. Both of her parents were born in China and were raised in Taiwan. After her father received his degrees, her family moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee where he worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority. At the age of 11, Lily was involved in an automobile accident that took her mother's life. She continues to motivate herself with her mother's image in the back of her mind. While in high school she read about careers in architectural acoustics. This led her to a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering (with a Certificate in Architecture) from Princeton University, a Ph.D. in Acoustics from Penn State, an ASA Hunt Fellowship and a faculty position in architectural acoustics at the University of Nebraska.

She graduated from an all-female high school as class Valedictorian and was selected to be a United States Presidential Scholar, a program established to recognize and honor the nation's most distinguished graduating high school students. On her way to graduating from Princeton Magna Cum Laude, Lily began her foray into acoustics with summer internships at Georgia Tech and Jaffe Holden Associates, studying the integration of acoustics, aesthetics and technical design of fabric tension membrane structures.

Lily won National Science Foundation (NSF) and American Association of University Women (AAUW) fellowships to support her graduate studies in acoustics at Penn State. At Penn State, her interest in music, acquired at the age of four, led to her study of the acoustic radiation from violins. She recognized that there are three elements in the sound production from violins; excitation by the bow/string interaction, vibration of the violin body and acoustic radiation from the body, and that the last element had received far less attention than the first two elements. However, the analysis of the acoustic radiation from violins: required visualization of the acoustic field with a spatial resolution smaller than an acoustic wavelength. This required the application of nearfield acoustical holography to a violin played continuously over long periods of time. Lily applied ingenuity and tenacity in designing and building a bowing machine to excite violins and a nearfield acoustical holography system that surrounded the bowed violin, within the budgetary constraints typical of research on the acoustics of musical instruments. Her dissertation results were received with great interest by the musical acoustics community. She was invited three times to present papers at ASA meetings on her research. Her Ph.D. thesis led to several publications, one in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Carleen Hutchins (and people passing by during a demonstration in Carleen's driveway) were impressed with the bowing machine. Carleen was also impressed with Lily, turning to me to tell me that she thought Lily knew more than I did. She got no argument there. The bowing machine now hangs from the rafters of my garage. Lily now says that she loved her time at Penn State, but only after the pain of sewing hundreds of horse hairs into the belt used in the bowing machine has diminished with time.

In the midst of her Ph.D. studies, Lily worked one summer at Bell Laboratories with Gary Elko on the application of boundary layer models to the turbulent field of a talker's mouth during speech plosives, and to methods of attenuation of the effects of the turbulent field. She demonstrated her ability to mix theory and measurements in developing a simple model that produced predictions that agreed with measured results.

Upon completion of her Ph.D., Lily was awarded the ASA F.V. Hunt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Acoustics. She then returned to her first interest, architectural acoustics, to study the subjective responses to acoustic fields in rooms, including auralization, at the Technical University of Denmark with Anders Christian Gade and Jens Holger Rindel. Her work was valuable and she has been invited back to the Technical University of Denmark to continue working on collecting data that relate subjective responses and objective measures of acoustic fields in large spaces, one of the most challenging problems in architectural acoustics. When Lily arrived at the University of Nebraska, the Architectural Engineering Department Program in the Peter Kiewit Institute had no acoustics program. In less than five years, she has developed one of the best programs in architectural acoustics in the country. She has transferred her enthusiasm to her students, many of whom are now active in the Society. Her work on spatial impression of musical acoustical fields in auditoria, objective measures in concert halls, effects of sound directivity and scattering on auralization, computer modeling of acoustic fields in rooms, classroom acoustics, reverberation and acoustic fields in coupled spaces, correlation of subjective and objective measures of speech intelligibility, and the combined effects of temperature and noise on human performance are well known and favorably received as indicated by the seven invited ASA papers on these research projects. Lily is now one of the ‘stars' in architectural acoustics and her impact on building a strong program at the University of Nebraska has been exemplary.

She is an active and popular contributor to the Society. In addition to being invited ten times to present papers at ASA meetings, she was one of the nine young presenters selected to speak on the future of acoustics at the Society's 75th anniversary meeting in May 2004. Lily is now the chair of the Architectural Acoustics technical committee, one of the largest and most active (and sometimes unwieldy) of the ASA technical committees. She is a member of the Newman Student Award Fund Advisory Committee and the Committee on Women in Acoustics, and has worked hard to develop the flourishing Architectural Acoustics Student Design competition.

In addition to her outstanding technical and educational contributions, Lily is a pleasure to be with. She is always surrounded by people at ASA meetings. I am sure we will see a lot of Lily in the future as she continues to serve the Society, the academic community and the world of acoustics with distinction.

Lily lives with Oliver, who I am sure, is one spoiled cat.