CIS faculty Anne Warlaumont has recently secured two NSF grants for UC Merced research, representing over $800,000 in support of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates conducting this research. Each supports her investigation of how babies learn to vocalize by developing quantitative data-based projects. One project, in collaboration with CIS faculty members Chris Kello and Ajay Gopinathan, is to study infant vocalization as a kind of foraging process. The idea is that infants “explore” their acoustic and articulatory space to search for particular patterns of sounds that elicit responses from adults. Warlaumont and Kello will collaborate with UCM physicist Gopinathan to apply mathematical models from physics to the domain of vocal learning. Her project is supported by NSF’s Developmental and Learning Sciences program and is also co-sponsored by NSF’s Robust Intelligence program.
Dr. Warlaumont is also leading a new NSF-funded project that will create new infrastructure to make available massive amounts of data on infant vocalizations. It is sponsored by the Resource Implementations for Data Intensive Research (RIDIR) program. Researchers from around the world have committed to sharing their day-long audio recordings with Dr. Warlaumont and her collaborators, Brian MacWhinney at Carnegie Mellon University and Mark VanDam at Washington State University. This new infrastructure will support the analysis of large amounts of data on language learning, and may have clinical applications along with applications in speech-recognition systems — both of which could use this massive new resource. You can read more about her grants here and here.