Keynote Speakers

Professor Amalia Arvaniti

Amalia Arvaniti (Ph.D., Cambridge 1991) is a Professor of Linguistics in the Department of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Kent, UK. She had previously held research and teaching appointments at UC San Diego, Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh, and the University of Cyprus.

Arvaniti is one of the pioneers of Laboratory Phonology, which relies on experimental research methods to test linguistic models of sound structure. Her research, which focuses on the cross-linguistic study of prosody, has been widely published and cited, and has led to notable paradigm-shifts. Her research on intonation has yielded crucial insights into the production, perception and phonological representation of intonation, establishing tonal alignment as a key element of intonational structure.

Her research on the production and perception of speech rhythm has challenged the traditional rhythm typology and the dominant view on rhythm as timing. Arvaniti’s recent research continues to focus on rhythm and intonation. Her research of rhythm examines alternatives to rhythm classes and shows how the percept of rhythm can arise from the organization of a number of acoustic parameters the weight of which depends on a given language’s prosodic structure. Her intonation research draws on cross-linguistic study (of Romani, Polish, Greek, and English) to better understand the nature of intonational representations and the role of pragmatics and phonetic variability in shaping them.

Arvaniti’s research is currently supported by a European Research Council Advanced Grant to study intonational phonetics, phonology, and pragmatics (2019-2024; ERC-2018-ADG 835263), and a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship to study the post-diglossic development of the Greek sound system (2019-2021; MRF-2018-094).

Title of Professor Amalia Arvaniti’s talk: “Crosslinguistic variation, phonetic variability, and the formation of categories in intonation”

Professor Jonas Beskow


Jonas Beskow is a Professor in Speech Communication, with specialization in Multimodal Embodied Systems, at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Stockholm, Sweden. His research interests are in analysis, modelling and synthesis of verbal and non-verbal behaviours, especially with applications to avatars and robots.

Prof Beskow and his research group are developing and testing models for signals and phenomena that occur in human face-to-face interaction, with the objective to increase the knowledge of how these signals can be used in real systems, such as robots or virtual assistants. The work builds on data capture using multiple sources (motion capture, gaze tracking, video) to record e.g. visual speech, eye gaze, facial expressions and gesture. Recent experiments explore mime acting as a method of obtaining stylized and highly expressive motion for social robots.

Prof Beskow is also one of the developers behind Furhat – a social robot that is able to convey several important aspects of human face-to-face interaction by means of facial animation that is retro-projected on a physical mask. Furhat is currently being deployed in a variety of human-robot interaction settings. It has been shown that a number of functions ranging from low-level audio-visual speech perception to vocabulary learning improve when compared to unimodal (e.g. audio-only) settings or on-screen virtual avatars. Jonas is one of the co-founders of Furhat Robotics, a spin-off company that currently develops and markets the robot platform for a variety of academic and commercial settings.

Title of Professor Jonas Beskow’s talk: “On talking heads, social robots and what they can teach us”


Professor Nicholas Evans

Nicholas (Nick) Evans is ARC Laureate Fellow and Distinguished Professor of Linguistics at the Australian National University, directs the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL). He has carried out wide-ranging fieldwork on indigenous languages of Australia and Papua New Guinea, focussing on all aspects of their structure from phonetics and phonology, morphosyntax and semantics to sociolinguistics and language change. More broadly, the driving interest of his work is the interplay between documenting and describing the incredible diversity contained in the world’s endangered languages and the many scientific and humanistic questions they can help us answer.

In addition to book-length grammars and dictionaries of several Aboriginal languages (grammars: Kayardild, Bininj Gun-wok; dictionaries: Kayardild, Dalabon) and edited collections on numerous linguistic topics, he has published over 170 scientific papers. His crossover book Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us, which sets out a broad program for engaging with the world’s dwindling linguistic diversity has been translated into French, Japanese, Korean, and German.

He has also worked as a linguist, interpreter and anthropologist in two Native Title claims, and as a promotor of Aboriginal art.
Professor Evans is a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the Australian Social Sciences Academy, a corresponding member of the British Academy, and the recipient of the Anneliese Maier Forschungspreis from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation / German Ministry of Science and Education and the Ken Hale Award from the Linguistics Society of America.

Title of Professor Nicholas Evans’ talk: “‘Australia and New Guinea: Sundered hemi-continents of sound”

Professor Bryan Gick

Bryan Gick (Ph.D., Yale U. ‘99) is a Professor and Guggenheim Fellow in the Department of Linguistics at the University of British Columbia and a Senior Scientist at Haskins Laboratories. Co-director of UBC Language Sciences, he also holds associate appointments in the School of Audiology and Speech Sciences, the Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems, and the Department of Psychology.

With research combining production, perception, control and biomechanics of speech, Gick has worked to bring the human body in all its complexity into discussions of language. In 2000, while they were Early Career Scholars at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, Gick and Sid Fels (UBC ECE) began a collaboration that has produced ArtiSynth ( a biomechanical modeling platform that houses world’s state-of-the-art biorealistic virtual human head, neck, and face. ArtiSynth has become a powerful tool for research with applications in speech, swallowing, surgical planning and animation, enabling Gick and his team to uncover basic mechanisms of the speech apparatus – and even to identify and name a previously unnamed body part. In addition to this, Gick’s work using ultrasound imaging in speech research and intervention has brought ultrasound biofeedback to language learners and people with speech and hearing disorders, and his work in multimodal perception has shown how we “feel” speech information through our skin. Gick’s recent research develops an embodied approach to speech, with the goal of deepening links between biomechanics, the nervous system, the digestive system and the development of speech communication.

Title of Professor Bryan Gick’s talk: “How bodies talk”

Professor Lucie Ménard

Lucie Ménard is the Founder and Director of the “Phonetics Laboratory at Université du Québec à Montréal” and Adjunct-director of the “Center for Research on Brain, Language, and Music—CRBLM”.

Full professor at the University of Québec à Montreal, Dr. Ménard has been engaged in a sustained program of studies of the development of speaker strategies for reaching intelligible multisensory speech goals. Her research has used a combination of instrumental measures (ultrasound imaging, optical and electromagnetic tracking of orofacial articulators), acoustic measures and modeling in sensory depriped young children and adults to investigate speech production during different developmental stages and under varying conditions of sensory feedback and speaking demands. To support this work, her lab has devised methods of obtaining and analyzing accurate ultrasound data on the tongue movements of children as young as two years old.

Most recently, Prof. Ménard has been involved in the development of clinical assessment tools (ultrasound imaging and virtual reality) for children with neuromuscular disease at the Living Lab Ste-Justine Pediatric Hospital, as a researcher. Prof. Ménard has trained 55 undergraduates, 35 M.Sc. and M.A. candidates 20 Ph.D. and 6 Postdoctoral fellows.

Title of Professor Lucie Ménard’s talk: “Production-perception relationshpis in sensory deprived populations: the case of visual impairment”