Dr. Winifred Strange
Winifred Strange completed her PhD in Psychology at the University of Minnesota in 1972. She served as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota, the University of South Florida, and the City University of New York Graduate Center. Winifred was elected a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) in 1992. She served as the associate editor for Speech Communication for The Journal of Acoustical Society of America (JASA) from 1996-98, as a Member of the Executive Council from 2001-04, and an active member of the Speech Technical Committee throughout her career. In 2008, she received a Silver Medal in Speech Communication for her contributions to understanding speech perception. She has worked behind the scenes on numerous projects, including the ASA’s 75th Anniversary Celebration Committee.
Winifred is a pioneer in cross-language speech perception research, with focus on the influence of linguistic experience and perceptual training on non-native speech perception. Among a number of high-impact scholarly works she produced, she is particularly known for her work on vowel acoustics and perception. Her 1983 JASA paper, “Dynamic specification of coarticulated vowels,” reported that removing of the steady-state centers of vowels, leaving only the formant transitions into and out of the vowels, maintained vowel perception. Until then, steady-state formant frequencies were considered the most important cues for vowel perception. These findings on “vowel-less” syllables were surprising and were initially met with skepticism, but further research produced a body of evidence that weakened alternative interpretations and led to the acceptance of the notion that the dynamic portions of the onsets and offsets of coarticulated vowels contributed importantly to vowel perception.
Now a professor emerita, Winifred helped support and mentor more than 50 students and junior colleagues through over 20 federally funded grants, mostly from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Her contagious enthusiasm for her field attracted many students and colleagues from many disciplines. Winifred has expanded the field of speech perception research enormously through her very active and inspiring mentorship and her active participation in national and international collaborative research. She has always been a strong and vocal advocate for women in our science and involvement in ASA. She has also been an excellent example that having a non-academic passion–in her case, dance–allows us to maintain healthy work-life balance and, in return, energizes our science careers. Many owe much of their success to the mentoring and example of Winifred Strange.
Dr. Strange is the Women in Acoustics 2018 Spring Luncheon Honoree.