Past Grad Skills Seminars


Presenters: Jay Johnson and Dr. Ben Treweek

Friday, February 15 at 3 PM in ETC 4.150

You put so much work into your courses and research as a graduate student, but at the end of the day, how can you exchange that effort for a degree? This week, Jay and Dr. Ben will detail the milestones you will need to hit and the logistics necessary to obtain a graduate degree from UT Austin.

First, Jay (M.S. 2017) will go over the procedure for obtaining a Master’s degree, and how to then apply for doctoral candidacy. Dr. Ben (Ph.D. 2019) will follow Jay with an overview of the procedure for graduating with a Doctoral degree.

Slides are available here.

Overview of Acoustics-Related Courses, Spring 2019

Slides available here.


Travel Funding

Presenters: Current Officers and Guests
Attending a conference is a great way to get your new research out to the community, see cutting edge research from around the world, and make professional connections that can boost your career prospects. However, airfare and hotels aren’t free, so this week we will be discussing various grant opportunities for travel funding. We will cover a number of funding opportunities available to graduate students in acoustics, including grants from the Acoustical Society of America and UT Austin.

Slides are available here.

External Funding and Scholarships

Presenters: Current Officers and Guests
Friday, September 21 at 3 PM in ETC 4.150
External funding opportunities include government and endowed fellowships that can pay your tuition and stipend so that your adviser doesn’t have to! Having your own money is a great way to take control of your graduate career and give you the freedom to pursue the research that interests you most.

We will discuss a number of funding opportunities available to graduate students in acoustics. Focus will be on the NDSEG, SMART, NSF, and Hertz Fellowships.

Slides are available here.

Learning Git – A Basic Introduction to Version Control

Presented by Jay Johnson
Friday, November 17 2017

Do you write code? Do you ever wish you could remember what your code used to look like or did you make a change that broke everything? Do you collaborate with others on your code? If you answered yes to any of these then you need version control. Come by this Friday when I give a very brief introduction to Git. Git is the most widely used distributed version control software used by coders today.

I will be walking everyone through setting up their first repository. If you would like to work along with me, feel free to bring your laptop to the meeting and take a minute to download the git software (here) and make a free account at (or would work fine too).

Presentation Slides

Citation and Reference Management Software

Presented by Jay Johnson
Friday, October 13 2017

It is essential to locate and organize references for any research project, large or small. This requires keeping up with relevant publications and remembering what you read. In this talk, I’ll give a few ideas and tips from more experienced graduate students on how to keep up-to-date on literature using alerts and reference management programs. I will also talk about how these programs interface with Word and LaTeX to make citations and bibliographies a lot simpler.

Presentation Slides

External Funding and Fellowships

Presented by present and former ASA officers
Friday, September 22 2017

External funding is a great way to take control of your graduate career and give you the freedom to pursue the research that interests you most. We will focus on the SMART and NDSEG fellowships but also cover other large fellowships such as the NSF, NPSC, and Hertz.

Presentation Slides

Learning LaTeX: An Introduction to the Basics

Presented by Stephanie Konarski
Friday, March 24, 2017

LaTeX is the preferred platform for writing long, technical documents such as Master’s theses and PhD dissertations. This talk will cover topics ranging from installation to more advanced formatting techniques useful for scientific and mathematical writing. Special emphasis will be placed on the use of the LaTeX template utilized by many UT students to generate theses and dissertations fully consistent with the university’s style and formatting requirements.

Presentation Slides

LaTex Example

LaTex Template

LaTex Style File

On the use of FEniCS for Finite Element Computations of Acoustics Problems

Presenter: Ben Goldsberry
Friday, March 10, 2017

FEniCS is a general-purpose open-source finite element code for Python and C++. This talk will introduce FEniCS in the context of solving acoustics problems and provide a framework for new users to begin using the code. The features of FEniCS will also be compared with those available in commercial finite element software.

Presentation Slides


Introduction to Scientific Computing Using Python

Presenter: Randy Williams
Friday, October 28, 2016

Python is an open-source and high-level programming language which has been rapidly gaining traction with scientists and engineers for numerical computing as an alternative to other languages such as Matlab and C. Python is free to use and develop, and a large online community of users has resulted in many additional libraries which extend Python’s functionality. The NumPy module provides routines for fast array mathematics, special functions, linear algebra, and FFTs, while Matplotlib makes it easy to generate publication-quality plots. This talk will highlight some of the features of Python which engineering students will find useful, and will walk through a few examples related to propagation, scattering, and signal processing in acoustics.

Presentation Slides

Python Example Code

Multi-time Window FFT Implementation for a Real-time Audio Analyzer

Presenter: Aaron Treptow
Friday, October 14, 2016

In the field of acoustic measurements, many standards and applications require fractional octave analysis (e.g. 1/3rd octave). While traditional real-time audio analyzers (RTAs) use common bandpass filter banks to achieve fractional octave analysis, Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) RTA implementations have linearly-spaced frequency bins and are considered constant bandwidth analysis. The goal of the Multi-time Window (MTW) FFT implementation is to provide FFT-based fractional octave analysis and reduce the computational complexity compared to single-length FFT RTAs. This talk is based on a recent internship project for the Acoustics Systems team at Cirrus Logic this past summer.

Presentation Slides

External Funding and Fellowships

Presenter: Anthony Bonomo
Friday, September 16, 2016

As a current recipient of the SMART scholarship, I thought it would be useful to current students to provide some information related to external scholarships and fellowships, with a particular emphasis on the SMART and NDSEG programs. The funding situations of most acoustics students are more tenuous than ever; take control by obtaining external funding!

Presentation Slides


References and Citation Management Programs

Presenter: Caleb Sieck
Friday, April 22 2016

An important part of research is finding good references. This requires keeping up with relevant publications and remembering what you read. In this talk, I’ll give a few ideas on how to keep up-to-date on literature using alerts, reference management programs, and how these programs interface with Word and LaTeX to make citations and bibliographies a lot simpler.

Presentation Slides

Acoustical-mechanical-electrical Modeling of the Inner Ear

Presenter: John Cormack
Friday, April 15 2016 at 3 PM

The organ of Corti is the sensory organ in the inner ear in which acoustic energy is converted into neural impulses that the brain interprets as sound. Mechanical vibrations in the cochlear partition are thought to be self-amplified by electro-motive outer hair cells allowing the mammalian ear to achieve high fidelity over a large range of frequencies. The anatomy of the cochlea will be examined with emphasis on mechanical function. An overview of multi-scale modeling efforts will be given, from the large scale fluid-structure mechanics to the small scale hair cell mechanics.

Presentation Slides

Introduction to Active Noise Control

Presenter: Michael Muhlestein
Friday, April 8 2016

Active noise control (ANC) is the method by which unwanted sound is removed from an acoustic system with additional sound sources. ANC has been successfully applied in automotive noise problems, room acoustics, and (popularly) to headphone design. In this presentation, we will discuss some of the physical principles that underlie ANC techniques. Additionally, we will discuss the practicality of ANC versus passive sound absorption methods.

Introduction to Otoacoustic Emissions

Presenter: Nicole Sieck
Friday, February 26 2016

Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) are sounds that originate in the cochlea and are then recorded in the ear canal. They occur as a byproduct of the electromotile processes of outer hair cells. While OAEs can occur spontaneously, they are usually recorded in response to a stimulus, such as a click or set of tones. Recording OAEs does not require any active participation of the patient, which makes them a useful tool in the clinic. In fact, the first clinical use of OAEs was for newborn hearing screenings. This talk will cover the basics of OAEs, including types, physiological generators, and clinical applications.

Presentation Slides

Graduate Skills Seminar: External Funding and Fellowships

Presenter: Anthony Bonomo
Friday, October 16 2015

As a current recipient of the SMART scholarship, I thought it would be useful to current students to provide some information related to external scholarships and fellowships, with a particular emphasis on the SMART and NDSEG programs. The funding situations of most acoustics students are more tenuous than ever; take control by obtaining external funding!

Tales from the New England Mud Patch

Presenter: Gabe Venegas
Friday, September 25 2015

This past summer, the R/V Hugh R. Sharp set out from Lewes, DE to the New England Mud Patch in hopes of confirming ocean bottom inversion techniques with ground truth acoustic measurements of mud cored directly from the ocean bottom. There were several acoustical experiments conducted during this pilot study. This talk will focus on the resonance tube technique used to measure compressional wave speed of mud cored from the New England Mud Patch in the 1-10 kHz frequency range. Preliminary data will be presented along with a description of life aboard a research vessel from a graduate student’s perspective. This seminar will complement the full acoustics area seminar to follow.

Effective Outreach: Techniques and Considerations

Presenter: Ashley Hicks
Friday, April 24 2015

Inspired by John Dewey and the Laboratory School, Louis Menand wrote that “knowledge is inseparably united with doing.” Following this idea, many strive to bring science and technology into the classroom and home life in hopes of enriching human knowledge and increasing scientific literacy. This short seminar will discuss effective science outreach and science communication techniques, with an emphasis on Austin ASA’s involvement with outreach activities. Focus will be placed on audience and environment of outreach, including special considerations that must be made when doing outreach in both small and large groups. Finally, outreach resources for organization and personal use (including recommended reading) will be presented.

A Brief Introduction to Audiology

Presenter: Chelsea Burns
Friday, April 10 2015

Approximately 31.5 million people in America have a hearing loss to some degree.  Audiologists are the professionals who are trained to diagnose, treat and study hearing and hearing loss.  This talk will provide you with a brief overview of audiology; where it came from, what it involves, and a look into what it may bring to the future of hearing health care.

Presentation Slides

Optically-Triggered Nanodroplets for Enhanced Ultrasound and Photoacoustic Imaging

Presenter: Alex Hannah
Friday, March 27 2015

Medical ultrasound imaging is ubiquitous in clinics due to its safety, low cost, portability, and imaging depth. The development of technologies to assist ultrasound in the diagnosis of diseases thus have a potentially broad clinical impact. More recently, photoacoustics has emerged as a complementary, high contrast modality for imaging optical absorption. Injectable dyes and nanoparticles locally amplify ultrasound and photoacoustic signal, helping to identify disease markers and track its progression. We have constructed a dual ultrasound and photoacoustic contrast agent that can be activated using an external optical trigger. In response to pulsed laser irradiation, the particle undergoes a liquid to gas phase change, or vaporization, which emits a strong acoustic wave and results in an echogenic microbubble, simultaneously enhancing contrast for both modalities. We designed and developed several iterations of particles, altering parameters to optimize biocompatibility, cost, and image contrast enhancement, and we then characterized key traits of the particles. Next, we imaged the contrast agents in phantom, ex vivo, and in vivo models to validate the image enhancement, developing image process algorithms to maximize image quality. These optically triggered contrast agents are a valuable tool for minimally invasive, highly specific, early identification of cancer.

Presentation PDF

Speech in the Human Brain

Presenters: Rachel Reetzke, Zilong Xie, and Han-Gyol Yi
Friday, March 13 2015

Understanding speech sounds is integral for social communication. The ease with which speech is processed belies the acoustical complexity of the speech sounds. A tendency in the field is to consider speech a sui generis process in the brain, thus focusing on the role of the cerebral cortex which is extensively developed and utilized in humans. Our research attempts to recontextualize speech as arising from a general neural circuitry deep-seated in an evolutionary trajectory.

Introduction to LaTeX

Presenter: Michael Muhlestein
Friday, February 13 2015

LaTeX is a document typesetting software that is popular in many academic fields.  Due to its flexibility and professional appearance, LaTeX is often the document-type of choice for academic journals or theses.  The primary goal is for an initiate to be able to start working on a thesis in LaTeX with enough understanding to be able to self-learn whatever else is needed.  We will be learning how to start working with LaTeX from the ground level (after installation) and learning some basic skills, such as compiling a document (getting anything at all), typesetting equations, building a bibliography, and using pre-made packages.  Time permitting, we will also discuss briefly how to make a presentation or poster in LaTeX.

If any are interested in installing LaTeX but do not know what to do, a decent choice for Windows machines is MikTeX (  This is the software we will be using in the class.  For Apple machines, try MacTeX (

Associated Files

An Introduction to Metamaterials

Presenter: Caleb Sieck
Friday, January 30 2015

Metamaterials are engineered composite materials with dynamic properties beyond what has been found in nature. These unique properties have enabled previously unattainable wave phenomena giving rise to interesting effects including negative refraction, cloaking, and subwavelength imaging. This talk will cover a brief history of metamaterials, what they are, why they are important, and some of the technologies they have enabled and inspired.

Presentation Slides

Modeling Acoustic Scattering Problems Using COMSOL Multiphysics

Presenter: Anthony Bonomo
Friday, Novemer 14 2014

COMSOL Multiphysics is quickly becoming the finite element commercial code of choice for computational acoustics. This talk will provide a brief introduction to the modeling of acoustic scattering problems using the software, with a special emphasis on exterior problems.

Presentation PDF
Associated Files

Description and Demonstration of Basic Techniques in Musical Signal Processing

Presenter: Ben Treweek
Friday, October 10 2014

This talk contains a basic overview of the audio effects most frequently used in music. Several different categories of effects are examined, and their respective artistic implications are discussed. Frequency filtering receives the most thorough treatment; in particular, its application to reproducing human vowel sounds is demonstrated by running an electric guitar signal through Pure Data, a visual programming language designed for intuitive audio manipulation.

Presentation Slides
Associated Files

Using Fourier Synthesis to Study the Acoustic Propagation of Pulses in the Time Domain

Presenter: Ben Goldsberry
Friday, September 26 2014

In many acoustics courses, solutions are computed by taking a Fourier transform of the wave equation. The resulting Helmholtz equation is then solved for a particular frequency. However, rarely does one perform the inverse Fourier transform and study the acoustic propagation of pulses in the time domain. This talk will present the idea of Fourier synthesis to compute the propagation of pulses in the time domain. This method is advantageous because any solution to the Helmholtz equation, in addition to any input pulse into the system, can be used. The algorithm, tips, and tricks of performing Fourier synthesis will be covered.

Presentation Slides
Associated Files

Impulse-response Measurement of the ENS Reverberation Room Using a Long-duration Chirp

Presenter: Kyle Spratt
Friday, September 12 2014

This talk will describe a technique for experimentally obtaining the impulse response of an acoustic space using a long-duration chirp as a measurement signal.  Making use of a modest amount of signal processing, one is able to obtain a high-fidelity measurement of the impulse response while avoiding the practical difficulties of generating an acoustic impulse.  As a concrete example, measurements made in the ENS reverberation room will be presented.

Presentation Slides
Associated Files