Professor Espy-Wilson Named IEEE Fellow

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Professor Carol Espy-Wilson (ECE/ISR) has been elevated to IEEE Fellow, effective January 1, 2022. The IEEE Board of Directors issued the following citation, “for contributions to speech enhancement and recognition.” The total number of IEEE Fellows selected in any one year cannot exceed one-tenth of one-percent of the total voting membership. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement.

Prof. Espy-Wilson is renowned for her research in speech communication, particularly in the areas of speech and speaker recognition, speech production, speech enhancement and single-channel speech segregation. She leads the University of Maryland Speech Communication Lab and her focus on digital signal processing, speech science, speech acoustics, linguistics, and machine learning, has contributed to numerous contributions to the discipline, including analysis of speech as a behavioral signal for emotion recognition, sentiment analysis and the detection and monitoring of mental health. She is the founder of OmniSpeech, a company that is developing technology that will suppress background noise while enabling enhanced speech ability in any device, app or platform. She won UMD’s Invention of the Year award in 2019 in the Information Science category for OmniSpeech’s groundbreaking speech extraction technology, OmniClear, which provides highest quality background noise reduction and speech enhancement, delivering superior voice quality and intelligibility in a software-only solution.

Prof. Espy-Wilson joined the UMD faculty in 2001. She received her B.S. in electrical engineering from Stanford University and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a Fellow of the International Speech Communication Association, the Acoustical Society of America and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She recently received the Campus Woman of Influence Award in 2021 and was recognized at UMD’s First to ADVANCE Celebration in 2019 which honors a diverse group of women who were the first to be promoted or tenured, take on department chair roles or deanships, start research centers, or win local, national, and international awards. Prof. Espy-Wilson is the first African American woman, and first African American, in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to receive tenure and be promoted to full professor.

Other significant awards she has received include the Institute for Systems Research Senior Faculty Fellow Award, the UMD Jimmy Lin Award for Innovation in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the UMD Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award.  

In June 2021, she was the Keynote Speaker for the 180th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, in which she presented a speech inversion system based on machine learning technology that converts acoustic signals into articulatory trajectories that capture changes in speech gesture coordination related to mental health. Using only the articulatory coordination features of speech, the system can classify depression with an accuracy of 85–90%. The goal is to incorporate this digital health technology system into a smart phone app that patients will find easy to use between visits to their therapists. 

Published December 3, 2021