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ISCApad Archive  »  2020  »  ISCApad #267  »  ISCA News  »  Message from President John Hansen

ISCApad #267

Thursday, September 10, 2020 by Chris Wellekens

2-1 Message from President John Hansen

Sept 15, 2020


Dear ISCA members:


Please find an update to my message in the recent installment of ISCApad for September 2020.   In this issue you will find updates for meetings, job openings, theses, and announcements. COVID-19 pandemic still impacts the world in terms of work, social engagement, and most importantly health of all – so again I ask that you please do all you can to ensure the safety of yourselves, colleagues, family and friends. Research and advancements in the field of speech communication is even more critical in the times we are all facing and to support communications for our society.


INTERSPEECH-2020: [] (Oct. 25-29, 2020)

Technical Program & Papers: the INTERSPEECH-2020 Technical Program Committee has been working diligently on the details for the technical program – given that we have moved to a completely VIRTUAL/ONLINE CONFERENCE. Much discussion and careful planning has gone in to the logistics of coordinating a worldwide participation for our membership. As I noted last month, the IS-2020 Technical Committee received 2140 paper submissions, and has now finalized a total of 1020 conference paper acceptances which include all technical areas as well as approved special sessions. In order to accommodate the world with three major continents, the core program will take place essentially with daily 5-6 hour participation periods, beginning with Opening Session/Keynote talks, 10 blocks of technical sessions, and social events as well as closing ceremony to complete the conference. An overall Program-at-a-Glance with time zones will be shared, so all can plan and maximize participation and attendance during the conference.


PAPER Oral Presentations: Since Interspeech-2020 will be completely remote, all accepted papers will be oral (i.e., no distinction between oral and poster presentations). All authors received instructions on presentation preparation this past week, which includes submitting a 90 sec (1.5min). Full presentations of 15min will be needed for all presentations, which attendees will have access beforehand. During the specific Oral Session, the 90sec overviews will be presented sequentially with follow-on Q&A for each paper. So, if you have great interest in a specific paper or session, please review the full presentations beforehand and join in the session for brief overviews and Q&A session for each paper.



Keynote Speakers: This year, there will be four keynote presentations from world recognized experts in the fields of speech communication. These presentations will consist of the follow speakers:

  • Janet B. PierrehumbertUniversity of Oxford (recipient of the ISCA Scientific Medal)

  • Barbara Shinn-Cunningham, Carnegie Mellon University

  • Lin-shan Lee, National Taiwan University

  • Shehzad Mevawalla, Amazon Alexa

We thank these distinguished researchers for their contributions to the technical program for Interspeech-2020 and look forward to their presentations and follow-on Q&A sessions.


ISCA Special Service Medal: This year, the ISCA Board has reviewed our history of awarding the ISCA Special Service Medal, and since establishing ISCA from the merger of ESCA and PC-ICSLP societies, this medal has only been awarded four times. As such, the ISCA Board has reviewed the remarkable service, leadership and educational contributions made by a number of our ISCA members and will be recognizing several this year as recipients of the 2020 ISCA Special Service Medal. Further details will appear in the next ISCApad, but let it be known that as a non-profit society, the technical/scientific impact, research, and educational accomplishments come from our community of volunteers. We thank you all, and will pay special recognition to several noteworthy contributors at this ISCA INTERSPEECH-2020 conference (Stay Tuned).


Memorial Recognition of Colleagues: So, it is with great sadness that I must share the passing of several of our colleagues in the field of speech communication. More details and memorial recognition will take place at INTERSPEECH-2020.

Sheri Hunnicutt (1943-2020,) KTH (Sweden): was part of the historic group at MIT that developed MITalk during the 1970’s. Since 1981, she has been with KTH in Stockholm where she worked on linguistic aspects of speech synthesis


Ann Syrdal(1945-2020), AT&T (USA): as a psychologist and computer science researcher at AT&T,she helped develop synthetic voices (i.e., AT&T’s Natural Voices), and establishing the first female-sounding voice synthesizer, laying the groundwork for such modern digital assistants as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.


John Ohala (1941–2020), Univ. of California, Berkeley (USA):a linguist specializing in phonetics and phonology, known for his impact on many aspects of languages' phonologies derive from physical and physiological constraints, which he emphasized are independent of language and thus have no place in the 'grammar' of a language.



Jack Godfrey(1941–2020), Johns Hopkins Univ. / NSA (USA): spent his entire career in research and development of Computer Voice Recognition and Speaker Recognition technology. He made significant contributions in the field, from TI's 'Speak and Spell' to his leadership of the US Dept. of Defense's Human Language Technology Group at the National Security Agency.


Until next month, we look forward to your participation in ISCA and INTERSPEECH-2020. Stay safe and stay connected to our community!

John H.L. Hansen (ISCA President)

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