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Royston elected Fellow of Acoustical Society of America

Professor and Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering Head Thomas J. Royston

Professor and Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering Head Thomas J. Royston has been elected a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA).

ASA aims to generate, disseminate, and promote the knowledge and practical applications of acoustics, speech, and hearing. The society was founded in 1929 and publishes a monthly journal that serves physical scientists, life scientists, engineers, psychologists, physiologists, architects, musicians, and speech communication specialists.

Royston was elected for “furthering the understanding of anisotropy and acoustoelasticity in dynamic elastography.”

Dynamic elastography is a noninvasive technique to quantitatively map stiffness properties in biological tissue. Tissue stiffness often changes due to disease or injury, and response to therapies. Elastography involves inducing and measuring mechanical wave motion (sound and vibration) in the tissue using optical, ultrasonic, or magnetic resonance imaging methods. This wave motion changes when tissue stiffness changes.

Royston received his bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University. He has been a faculty member at UIC since 1995, with appointments in biomedical engineering and mechanical and industrial engineering, and has been head of the biomedical engineering department since 2009.

His interest in acoustics began early with his PhD research in active sound and vibration control, supported by the Office of Naval Research, and continued as a faculty member at UIC, with support early on from the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award.

While at UIC, Royston became intrigued with applications in medical diagnosis, with his early work focused on improving the diagnostic value of audible frequency sounds as measured by stethoscopes and other auscultatory sensors. This line of research culminated in the “Audible Human Project,” an NIH R01-funded project to improve our understanding of how audible frequency sound propagates in the pulmonary system and how it is altered by disease, injury, and response to therapy. This work was recognized by the National Institute of Health’s National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering Nagy New Investigator Award in 2014.

Royston’s more recent acoustics-focused research has been in dynamic elastography, which has been supported by ongoing grants from the NSF and NIH.

Along the way, he has involved more than fifty graduate and nearly as many undergraduate students in his acoustics-linked research and has incorporated acoustics into a number of classroom teaching endeavors. With NSF Career support, he developed a course for high school students participating in the non-profit MERIT Music Program located on the Near West side titled, “Science and Engineering in Music.” While the course is no longer offered, the website developed for it still gets used in courses he taught in vibrations and in dynamic and biological systems and signal analysis at UIC. It also is utilized in a one-credit course for UIC Honors College students, regardless of their major, called “Making Waves in Musical Instruments and Medical Imaging.” A common prop in this course, as well as in Royston’s lab and office, is a classical harp, with a few donated by a local harp maker more than 20 years ago.

Royston is also a 2007 Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a 2017 Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

The formal announcement of Royston’s election and presentation of the ASA Fellowship certificate will occur at the upcoming 185th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of American on December 6, 2023, in Sydney, Australia.