Prize promotes excellence in student biomedical research

For Immediate Release
MONDAY, 2 April 2004
Contact: William Smith, Assistant Director for Finance and Sponsor Relations
Phone: +1.617.253.5621

CAMBRIDGE, MA. 04.02.2004

The Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announces that Ms. Irina S. Sigalovsky and Dr. Hanfeng Yuan will share the Helen Carr Peake Research Prize for 2004.

Ms. Sigalovsky is a graduate student in the Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology Program within the Division of Health Sciences and Technology. Her doctoral research is being performed at the Eaton-Peabody Laboratory (EPL) of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary under the supervision of Professor Jennifer R. Melcher. One component of her thesis examines the representation of sound intensity throughout the auditory pathway. A second component spatially maps the gray matter myelin content and thickness in the auditory cortex. Combined with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), this work should ultimately allow cortical neuroanatomy and function to be directly related in individual humans. Ms. Sigalovsky has reported her myelin imaging work as the first author on a poster at the 2003 annual meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, and in an oral presentation at the International Conference on Auditory Cortex, which was held in Magdeburg, Germany, in September 2003.

Dr. Yuan recently completed her Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Her dissertation research, which was jointly supervised by Mr. Nathaniel I. Durlach and Dr. Charlotte M. Reed, was performed in the Research Laboratory of Electonics (RLE), where Dr. Yuan is now a postdoctoral associate. In this work, Dr. Yuan addressed problems relating to tactual communication aids for persons with profound hearing loss. She identified a reliable cue to initial consonant voicing that is simple to derive in real time, and showed that it could be succesfully presented through two different sinusoidal vibrations applied to the index finger and thumb, respectively. Her results showed the highest performance level yet achieved with a tactual display in pairwise discrimination, and evidence that the tactual cue could be integrated with speechreading to provide susbstantial benefits in identifying consonant segments.

The Helen Carr Peake Research Prize was established through a donation of Dr. Sheldon Pang, an RLE/EPL alumnus. It consists of an annual award of $2000 to an MIT student for bioengineering research performed in either RLE or EPL. This year is the second time the prize is being awarded. The prize presentation to Ms. Sigalovsky and Dr. Yuan will occur later this spring at an award luncheon.

Helen Carr Peake, the wife of Professor William T. Peake, passed away in 2002. Dr. Pang’s gift honors her memory and commemorates the profound influence of the Peakes on his education and professional development. The selection of Ms. Sigalovsky and Dr. Yuan was done by a committee consisting of Professor Dennis M. Freeman (MIT/RLE), Professor Jeffrey H. Shapiro (MIT, Director RLE), Professor M. Charles Liberman (Harvard, Director EPL), and Professor William T. Peake (MIT/RLE/EPL).

Related Links:

Celebrating the Life of Helen Carr Peake

Eaton-Peabody Laboratory