2018 Fall Luncheon Honoree

Dr. Patricia Kuhl

Patricia (Pat) Kuhl has devoted her research career to understanding speech perception and early learning of speech and language. Having grown up in Minnesota, Pat also completed her B.A. in Psychology at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota as well as her M.A. and Ph.D. in Speech Science at the University of Minnesota. She then moved to the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis for her post-doctoral training before joining the University of Washington as a faculty member.

Pat has served on ASA numerous committees and was the president of the society from 1999-2000. During this period, she focused on issues close to heart: women and students’ involvement. She initiated the ASA Student Council, which has improved the student experience tremendously. As a result of decades of hard work, the percentage of female members in the society has risen significantly.

Pat was raised with the idea that if you work hard enough, you can do anything you want. Yet, developing her career in a male dominant world has never been easy. At her first ASA meeting in 1968 as a graduate student, Pat remembers only a handful of female attendees–an observation that stood out to her at that time. But she quickly felt at home at ASA meetings because it welcomed student attendees (free registration) and there has always been a group of people willing to mentor all students on all aspects of career development, even when they are not immediately in their research area. She looked forward to the face-to-face discussions with people at meetings on focusing research ideas that kept pushing theories forward.

An advisor once told Pat that research “should always about the ideas, not about you.” She has been living by that ever since. When there were hard times, bad talks in front of hundreds of people, or research that is highly unpopular among colleagues, she focused on her ideas, kept working on experiments, and strongly argued for her positions. Gradually, she established herself by continuing to put forward great ideas, backed by sound science. Pat received the Silver medal in Speech communication in 1997 and Gold Medal in 2008 for contributions to understanding how children acquire spoken language and for leadership in the Society.

Dr. Kuhl is the Women in Acoustics 2018 Fall Luncheon Honoree.  Pat is also highlighted in the Acoustics Today article, Networking Up.


Fellow:  Acoustical Society of America, 1982

Fellow: American Psychological Society, 1988

Fellow: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1999

Fellow: Cognitive Science Society, 2013

Research Award: Virginia Merrill Bloedel Scholar, University of Washington, 1992–1994

Silver Medal: Acoustical Society of America, 1997

Endowed Professorship: William P. and Ruth Gerberding University Professor, 1997–2005

American Academy of Arts and Sciences: Elected 1997

Faculty Lectureship Award: University of Washington, 1998

Rodin Academy: Elected 2000

Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters: Elected 2003

Research Award: Kenneth Craik Award: University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, 2005

Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award: University of Minnesota, April 2007

Gold Medal: Acoustical Society of America, Paris, France, July 2008

Endowed Chair for Early Childhood Learning: Bezos Family Foundation, 2009–present

National Academy of Sciences: Elected 2010

TED.com presentation: 2011, http://www.ted.com/talks/patricia_kuhl_the_linguistic_genius_of_babies.html

Education Nation: 2011, http://ilabs.washington.edu/i-labs-news-education-nation-2011

IPSEN Foundation’s Jean-Louis Signoret Neuropsychology Prize: Paris, Nov 29, 2011

William James Lifetime Achievement Award, Assoc. for Psychological Science: 2013

Honoris Causa Doctor, Stockholm University, Nobel Hall: 2014

George A. Miller Prize in Cognitive Neuroscience: 2015

Seattle Hall of Fame: 125 Most Influential People in 50yr History, Patricia Kuhl: 2016

APA Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award: San Francisco, 2018



Executive Council: Acoustical Society of America, 1982–1986
Associate Editor: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (1988–1992), Journal of Neuroscience (1989–1995), Developmental Science (2000–2012)
Member, University of Washington College of Arts and Science Council: 1982–1986
Member, Speech Communication Technical Committee: Acoustical Society, 1989–1992
Chair, Medals and Awards Committee: Acoustical Society of America, 1993–1995
Human Frontiers Scientific Review Committee: 1994–1999
Department Chair, Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington: 1995–1999
Neuroscience Affiliate: G. Edelman’s Neuroscience Research Group, La Jolla, CA, 1994–2000
Board of Directors: American Institute of Physics, 1994–1996
Board of Directors (Governor Appointed): Washington Technology Center, 1994–1997
White House Speaker, President and Mrs. Clinton’s Summit on Early Learning: 1997
Co-Chair ASA/ICA: Joint International Meeting of the ASS and ICA, 1998
Board of Trustees: Neurosciences Research Foundation, Inc., 1994–1999
Vice-President Elect: Acoustical Society of America, 1995–1996
Vice President: Acoustical Society of America, 1996–1997
President-Elect: Acoustical Society of America, 1998–1999 President: Acoustical Society of America, 1999–2000
White House Speaker: First Lady Laura Bush’s Summit on Learning to Read: 2001
Co-Director Sante Fe Research Consortium: 2003–2005
Co-Chair (with Leo Beranik) ASA 75th Anniversary Celebration: 2004
Co-Director, University of Washington Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences: 2004–present
Member, ASA Publication Policy Committee: 2004–2005
Member, ASA Investment Committee: Acoustical Society of America, 2004–2006
Co-Director, NSF Science of Learning Center (LIFE Center): 2004–2005
International Advisory Board: Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, 2004–2008
American Association for the Advancement of Science: Section Z, Linguistics, 2005
Director, NSF Science of Learning Center (LIFE Center): 2005–2018
Chair, AAAS Nominating Committee: Section J, Psychology, 2006
Member, National Academy of Science Troland Award Committee: 2011–2012
Chair, National Academy of Science Troland Award Committee: 2012–2013
NAS Chair of Membership (Section 52 Psychological & Cognitive Sciences): 2014–2016
White House Speaker, President Obama’s Summit on Early Learning: 2014
NSF Alan T Waterman Award Committee: 2015–2017
Bezos Family Foundation Scientific Advisory Board: 2015–present
AAAS Psychology (Section J) Steering Committee: 2016–2019
NAS Chair of Section 52 (Psychological & Cognitive Sciences): 2016–2019