Page 60 - Winter2018
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Ask an Acoustician
pilot data from naive listeners to verify speech intelligibil- ity, list equivalence, and perceived degree of accent. Finally, we calibrate our signals daily in the lab before presenting them to listeners. Knowing the acoustic attributes of signals, signal presentation levels, and auditory capacity of listeners enables me to have confidence in the experimental results.
How do you handle rejection?
I say a few expletives and set aside the rejection letter/re- view for at least a few days. Then I start to consider the rea- sons specified for the rejection and whether they can be ad- dressed in a revision either as a manuscript sent to another journal or as a resubmitted grant application. Inevitably, the comments stated in the rejection letter are quite helpful in revamping the submission, and, as a result, I have often been successful in overhauling the submission.
What are you proudest of in your career?
I am proudest of three aspects of my career: the impact of my research on improving our understanding of age-related hearing loss, my influence on students, and my success in obtaining external funding to support my work. My entire research career has been focused on elucidating the mecha- nisms underlying age-related hearing loss (as mentioned in Tell us about your work), and I believe that our theories about age-related decline in auditory temporal processing have now become broadly accepted. It is quite remarkable to see my work referenced in articles that advance the sci- entific premise I espoused, and I am also gratified to learn that some of my work has impacted audiology practice. My students are a great source of pride for me. I have watched some of them develop from eager but uninformed under- graduates to knowledgeable and insightful PhD candidates with publications of their own. I am quite honored to have worked with so many students and to have helped launch their research careers. My success in obtaining external grant support is frankly beyond my imagination. Persever- ance and unusual ideas, coupled with collegial support, have helped me achieve continuous funding for nearly my entire academic career. I am humbled and proud of this record.
What advice do you have for budding acousticians?
My first piece of advice is to follow your passion. If you are excited about a particular area of research, then chan-
nel your energy into that research focus. Excitement about your research program is evident in talks, manuscripts, and grants and will motivate you to think deeply about your re- search questions.
My second piece of advice is to aim high. Budding acousti- cians should submit manuscripts to the premiere journals in the discipline such as The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Gaining acceptance in these journals requires more work than acceptance in other journals but is well worth the effort in bolstering your reputation. You should start early and often to submit grant applications to federal agencies. Expect rejection and grow a “thick skin,” meaning, don’t take the rejection personally but learn from it and submit a better application next time. My observation is that young investi- gators who consistently write grant applications ultimately get funded. You just need to persevere! Third, volunteer to serve as a reviewer for top peer-review journals and federal grant agencies. These are invaluable learning experiences for writing a better manuscript or preparing a better grant. Fi- nally, say “no” to requests of your time that don’t advance your career or that interfere with your work-life balance. How do you say no? My advice is to reply that you will think about the request and will give a response within a week. This provides an opportunity to ponder whether you really want to do what is asked of you and whether it is a task that will advance your career. It’s also easier to give a definitive “no” after some time has passed.
What do you want to accomplish within the next 10 years or before retirement?
Most of us think in terms of a 5-year plan; mine includes several objectives. I hope to accomplish continued success in carrying out the work outlined in my grants and contracts and in submitting one grant renewal. As part of this objec- tive, I would like to see a number of manuscripts published describing work that has been conducted in my lab over the years but hasn’t yet been published. I aim to work with my current group of PhD students toward completion of their degrees. I am committed to helping them begin successful careers in research. Finally, I would like to inspire junior col- leagues toward a successful career in academia by advising them on grant applications and consulting with them on ca- reer choices.
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