William Hartmann awarded prestigious Acoustical Society of America Gold Medal

Published July 31, 2017

William (Bill) Hartmann, MSU professor of physics (right) receives his ASA Gold Medal from Michael Stinson, ASA president, on June 27 in Boston.

William (Bill) Hartmann, a Michigan State University professor of physics, was awarded the 2017 Acoustical Society of America (ASA) Gold Medal for his contributions to research and education in psychological acoustics and service to the society.

The ASA, which began in 1929, has a membership of more than 7,000 leaders of acoustics worldwide. Its purpose is to generate, disseminate and promote the knowledge and practical applications of acoustics. The first Gold Medal was presented in 1954 on the occasion of the ASA’s 25th Anniversary celebration and then biennially until 1981. It is now an annual award.

Hartmann’s research has made significant contributions to the field of acoustics in several areas, including how humans localize sounds in space, processing pitch, perceptual analysis of sounds from different sources and modulation detection. His rigorous experiments regarding pitch perception had considerable impact on theories regarding the subject, and he published a seminal paper on the factors that influence the perceptual organization of a rapid series of sounds. In addition to theoretically influential research, Hartmann has contributed to acoustical education with extensive publications including two text books, teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students and organizing several sessions at ASA meetings.

Hartmann said receiving the award is a great honor.

“The Acoustical Society of America is the world's foremost venue for research in acoustics,” Hartmann said. “Its scope is vast, extending from the sounds of whales and submarines, to ultrasonic diagnosis and therapy, to auditory physiology, psychology and musical performance. I am grateful to the society for the Gold Medal, but even more grateful for decades of scientific excitement, camaraderie and fun.”

Hartmann, who joined MSU in 1968, continues to conduct research in psychoacoustics by applying wave physics to the psychology and physiology of hearing. His lab conducts experiments to test models of midbrain processes in collaboration with neuroscientists who make electrophysiological recordings on a variety of mammals.

In 2000, Hartmann was awarded ASA’s Science Writing Award for Professionals in Acoustics, and in 2001, he received the ASA Helmholtz-Rayleigh Interdisciplinary Silver Medal for research and education in psychological and physiological acoustics, architectural acoustics, musical acoustics and signal processing. He also received the Distinguished Faculty Award from MSU in 2001.

"Bill Hartmann has established the MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy as a center of excellence in acoustics research by carrying out frontline research in the perception of sound; in writing leading textbooks in the area; and through his leadership in the Acoustical Society in many different ways, including serving a term as ASA president,” said Phil Duxbury, Department of Physics and Astronomy chair in the MSU College of Natural Science.  “He is truly deserving of the highest award of the society—the Gold Medal. Congratulations Bill!"

Hartmann received his Gold Medal at an ASA ceremony held in Boston, Mass., on June 27, 2017.