Prominent researchers, former students honor Jozef J. Zwislocki during national meeting of the Acoustical Society of America
Prominent researchers, former students honor Jozef J. Zwislocki during national meeting of the Acoustical Society of AmericaApril 25, 2003Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
During his more than 60-year career, Jozef J. Zwislocki has had a profound impact upon the field of auditory research. Many of the nation’s top auditory researchers have worked in Zwislocki’s internationally known laboratory, now known as Syracuse University’s Institute for Sensory Research (ISR).
Many of those former students, as well as other prominent researchers from around the country, will pay tribute to Zwislocki, Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Syracuse University’s L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS), during a four-hour special session on April 30 at the 145th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) in Nashville, Tenn. The session will commemorate Zwislocki’s scientific career and highlight many of his key contributions in the field. Among the invited speakers are Professor Murray B. Sachs of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, one of the most accomplished bioengineers in the world, and Professor William S. Rhode of the University of Wisconsin, a pioneer in the measurements of cochlear mechanics, one of Zwislocki’s major interests. Other presenting researchers are former students of Zwislocki who have built or are building successful careers in the fields of hearing neuroscience and biomedical acoustics.
“These researchers are a high-powered group,” says Robert D. Frisina Ph.D ’83, professor and associate chair of the otolaryngology division of the University of Rochester Medical Center who is organizing the session. “I chose them because of the deep impact that Dr. Zwislocki’s life work has had upon their scientific fields and personal research careers, as well as Joe’s significant role in the history of the Acoustical Society. He is one of the most noteworthy and successful Fellows of the Acoustical Society of America.”
Frisina earned his doctorate through the ISR’s Ph.D. program, which Zwislocki founded. “Professor Zwislocki imparted upon me one of the greatest capabilities that a young scientist can learn: To strive for and achieve excellence in biomedical research. I responded well to his high-energy, sometimes critical, interdisciplinary mentorship at ISR.”
Monita Chatterjee Ph.D. ’94, a scientist in the Department of Auditory Implants and Perceptions at the renowned House Ear Institute in California, became interested in cochlear implants while working in Zwislocki’s lab as a graduate student. She will speak on “The ‘Zwislocki effect’ in her work with cochlear implants during the session.
“Joe Zwislocki’s uniqueness as a scientist lies in his ability to transcend methodology, sensory modality or system-as he has spanned the realms of mathematics, engineering, physics, physiology and psychophysics to study hearing, touch and vision,” Chatterjee says. “As a graduate student, I was amazed and inspired by his unerring ability to find unifying patterns underlying seemingly different phenomena.”
Other invited speakers for the session include Zwislocki’s former students Rhona P. Hellman G’60, adjunct associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Northeastern University; Richard A. Schmeidt Ph.D. ’77, a professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the Medical University of South Carolina; Robert L. Smith Ph.D. ’73, SU professor of bioengineering and neuroscience and current director of the ISR; Stanley “Sandy” Bolanowski Ph.D. ’81, professor of bioengineering and neuroscience and associate director of the ISR. Laurel H. Carney, professor of bioengineering and neuroscience and a member of the ISR, will also speak. All have made conspicuous contributions to their fields of science.
A native of Poland, Zwislocki received degrees from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. He served as a Research Fellow in the renowned Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory at Harvard University for six years, and joined the Syracuse University faculty as a research associate professor of audiology in 1957. In 1958 he established and was named director of the
Bioacoustics Laboratory in the School of Education. Zwislocki was instrumental in the transfer of the laboratory to the College of Engineering in 1963 and the establishment of ECS’ Department of Bioengineering and Neuroscience. The laboratory soon included scientists studying vision, hearing and touch, and was renamed the Laboratory of Sensory Communications; it became the Institute for Sensory Research in 1973. Zwislocki served as director of the institute until 1985.
In 1970, Zwislocki invented the “Zwislocki Coupler,” an artificial ear that determines the amount of current needed in an earphone to produce a particular sound intensity at the eardrum. The Zwislocki Coupler has been accepted as a national standard for hearing-aid earphones. He holds 12 patents, including several for ear defenders against excessive noise.
He received the Acoustical Society of America’s first Bekesy Medal in 1985 for landmark contributions in auditory science, and the Hugh Knowles Prize in 1992 for distinguished achievement in the diagnosis and prevention of hearing disorders, among many other awards.
In 1990, Zwislocki was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Membership in the academy is regarded as the highest distinction for a U.S. scientist. In 1991 the degree of Dr. h.c. (an honorary degree) was bestowed on him by the Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznan, Poland, and in 1997, he was elected a Foreign Associate of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Zwislocki is the author of over 200 scientific publications. His most recent one, “Auditory Sound Transmission: An Autobiographical Perspective” (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002) summarizes and completes his life’s work on sound transmission and analysis in the ear, beginning with the outer ear and ending on the sensory cells in the cochlea of the inner ear.
Zwislocki retired from teaching in 1992, but continues to perform research at the ISR. “Joe Zwislocki is a rare individual who has exemplified interdisciplinary study throughout his illustrious and varied scientific career,” says ECS Dean Edward Bogucz. I very much look forward to more contributions to come.”