Honorable Mention – 2021 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research

I am thrilled to be awarded an ‘Honorable Mention’ for the 2021 UC Davis Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research (Postdoc/Grad student category). Congrats to all undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and faculty honored in the ceremony.


2021 UC Davis Award for Excellence in Postdoctoral Research

Yesterday, I was thrilled to be awarded the UC Davis Award for Excellence in Postdoctoral Research!

CBS-13 Interview & Press release

Today, UC Davis published a press release and we did an interview with CBS-13 Sacramento on our project, Intelligibility of face-masked speech depends on speaking style: Comparing casual, smiled, and clear speech.

My co-authors, Anne Pycha (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and Georgia Zellou (UC Davis), and I had a blast working together on a new project: how wearing a fabric face mask (as is common these days) affects speech intelligibility.

[Take away: masks don’t simply reduce intelligibility! The speaker plays an important role]

Click here to read the paper in ‘Cognition’

CBS-13 Sacramento covered our recent face-masked speech paper on Feb. 2, 2021


Two posters at LSA 2021

Come see us present two of our projects tomorrow, Saturday, January 9th at the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) 2021 Annual Meeting!

Prosodic focus in human- versus voice-AI-directed speech (11-12:30pm)
Eleonora Beier, Michelle Cohn, Fernanda Ferreira, Georgia Zellou

In this study, we test whether speakers differ in how they prosodically mark focus in speech directed toward an adult human versus a voice activated artificially intelligent (voice-AI) system (here, Amazon’s Alexa). Overall, we found that speakers prosodically mark focus similarly for both types of interlocutors; this suggests that speakers may view voice-AI (e.g., Alexa) to be a rational listener who will benefit from prosodic focus marking. At the same time, there were several targeted differences by focus type, which suggests that speakers can change their use of prosodic focus marking based on the perceived properties of the listener. 

The Interaction between Phonological & Semantic Usage Factors in Dialect Intelligibility in Noise (2-3:30pm)

Riley Stray, Michelle Cohn, & Georgia Zellou

This study examines how an “American” or “British” meaning of a word (e.g., “chips”) spoken in different accents (GB, US) can affect speech-in-noise intelligibility. Overall, we found the British speaker was more intelligible producing British sentences, but also that intelligibility decreased as sentences became more stereotypically British. Results suggest that both phonological and semantic properties of phrases impact speech intelligibility of words across dialects, and that a particular semantic usage in a less familiar dialect can decrease intelligibility as sentences become less predictable.