Monday, June 24, 2013

Making Waves: UNO Physics Professor Wins National Prize for Acoustics Education Work

Physics of Music Course Helps Music Students Interested in Audio Engineering

A University of New Orleans physics professor who teaches a course designed to improve musicians' understanding of sound waves and how they work has won a national prize designed to honor improvements in acoustics education.

UNO Professor of Physics Juliette W. Ioup received the 2013 Rossing Prize in Acoustics Education from the Acoustical Society of America, said Kevin L. Stokes, physics department chair. The Rossing Prize includes a $4,000 cash award and a medal, which Ioup will receive this fall at the ASA's annual conference in San Francisco. At that meeting, Ioup will deliver the "Acoustics Education Prize Lecture" in a session sponsored by the society's Committee on Education in Acoustics.

According to the ASA website, the award is designed to recognize an individual who has significantly furthered acoustics education through distinguished teaching, development of educational materials and other activities.

Ioup, who is the 10th recipient of the elite prize, is a fellow of the ASA. She currently teaches physics, geophysics and electrical engineering and includes a variety of acoustic specialties among her research interests at UNO.

Ioup has contributed to acoustics education at UNO in two key areas: education of non‐science majors through her Physics of Music course and education of advanced and graduate students in underwater acoustics and signal processing, Stokes said. Previously at Xavier University and now at UNO, Ioup developed and taught a two-semester course entitled Physics of Music that is designed for non‐science majors and "is very popular with Music majors, in particular."

The class covers all aspects of the fundamental science of sound and music, including recording and electronic reproduction, Stokes said. Ioup, a talented classical pianist and organist who has built her own period-reproduction pianos and harpsichords using kits, is "particularly well-suited" to teach the class.

The popular course introduces music students to the physics of sound and music by showing them, for example, how a piano works and how its vibrations work and resound in a music recital hall, said UNO Music Department spokeswoman Missy Bowen.

"I don't know how many years she's been doing it now, but I encourage as many music students as I can particularly those who are interested in audio recording, to take that class," said UNO Music Professor Robin Williams, former department chair. "It deals with the properties of sound and audio recorders are dealing with sound and the issues of post-production and how to get the best audio recording quality possible."

Every instrument has unique sound properties and different sound waves and the course is centered around the physics of sound waves, said Williams.

"A piano is different from percussion and it's different from violins – and if you understand that it can help you with placing mikes in a room," said Williams, who said the UNO music program now includes at least 20 students aiming to be audio engineers. Most are undergraduate students.

The course meets the University science requirement and music students can see a direct application to their careers, said Williams, who described seeing Ioup in action with students as "a joy."


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UNO Department of Physics
UNO Department of Music