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April 30, 2007

Engineering’s Susan Voss Receives CAREER Award From National Science Foundation

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – The National Science Foundation (NSF) honored Associate Professor of Engineering Susan Voss with its most prestigious award for new faculty, funding her project to develop a medical diagnostic tool that could revolutionize the care of critically ill neurology patients.

With the support of the five-year $400,000 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, Voss will advance her research on middle-ear mechanics and, through that work, increase opportunities to mentor engineering students.

A second goal of the CAREER Award is to support several activities that will increase women’s participation in the engineering profession. Voss’ research projects have allowed her to mentor 19 women undergraduate students in her laboratory.

Voss’ work focuses on developing a noninvasive auditory-based diagnostic test of middle-ear function that would provide benefit for patients at risk for increases in intracranial pressure – pressure within the skull. Currently, such patients must endure invasive procedures through their skulls to monitor intracranial pressure.

Voss is the fifth Smith faculty member to receive the CAREER Award – and the second within the college’s young engineering program – since the NSF established the program in 1995. The other Smith recipients include Donna Riley, associate professor of engineering; Laura Katz, associate professor of biological sciences; and Katherine Queeney, associate professor of chemistry.

An electrical engineer and scientist in the field of speech and hearing, Voss is interested in describing sound transmission through the normal and diseased human ear and developing better diagnostic approaches for evaluating auditory function.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in engineering from Brown University in 1991, where she worked on computer speech recognition, Voss earned her master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and her doctoral degree from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. Her doctoral work examined the auditory effects of eardrum perforations. She continued at MIT as a post-doctoral associate within the Research Laboratory of Electronics, where she identified inaccuracies within widely used audiometric testing procedures.

In addition to her Smith post, Voss holds an appointment at the Harvard Medical School and continues to collaborate with colleagues at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Each year, more than 2,500 faculty members nationwide apply to the NSF CAREER program, with fewer than 450 receiving awards. Designed to recognize the early career-development activities of teacher/scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century, awardees are selected on the basis of plans that integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their institutions.

Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation’s foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from nearly every state and 61 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country.


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Smith College
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Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
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