Leah Jamieson was drawn to a career in electrical engineering through her interest in speech processing. According to Leah, "I began my research career developing high-accuracy techniques to analyze speech, such as characterizing the motion of the vocal cords and labeling stop consonants in continuous speech. Now I am working on measuring and using information such as duration, rhythm, intensity, pitch, and intonation so that speech recognition systems can become more accurate."
Leah received her B.S. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her Ph.D. from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Princeton University. In 1976, she joined the faculty at Purdue University, where she is a professor of electrical engineering. At Purdue, Leah began looking at the computational problems associated with analyzing speech and image data, which led to research in the areas of algorithms and software for parallel computers. She leads a project to develop software tools to improve the usability of high-performance parallel computers.
Leah enjoys her work because "computing is one of the fastest changing fields there is, both in terms of the technology, science, and engineering of computer systems, as well as how (and by whom) computers are being used. It provides constant opportunities to think about computers in new ways and wonderful opportunities for collaboration. For example, putting together a research group to look at how computers with hundreds or thousands of processors can be used to process images for health care applications is like putting together the pieces of an intricate puzzle.
"I've continued working in both speech and parallel processing because I enjoy the variety. One of the things that I've always liked about working in the area of speech recognition is that I can talk about my work to anyone, including my parents and, more recently, my seven-year-old daughter, Caitlin. Computing in general is acquiring this same flavor: everyone knows something about computers. It's exciting to be involved in setting directions for research and education in such a dynamic field."
Leah has received many acknowledgments and awards for her work: She was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), she has been an IEEE Signal Processing Society Distinguished Lecturer, and she has been an IEEE Computer Society Distinguished Visitor. She teaches courses in algorithm design, parallel algorithms, and computer processing of speech. In addition to teaching and conducting research, Leah has co-edited the books, "Algorithmically Specialized Parallel Computers" and "The Characteristics of Parallel Algorithms" and has served on the editorial boards for journals in speech and signal processing, parallel computing, and VLSI signal processing.
Leah and her husband, George Adams, each vie for time on their home computer with Caitlin, who wants to be an artist when she grows up. Leah's favorite recreational activities include reading, music, travel, and photography.