Brueggeman awarded NSF fellowship to research cochlear implants

April 25, 2018
Brueggeman

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – Avamarie Brueggeman, an electrical engineering major at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, was recently awarded a 2018 fellowship from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

The NSF three-year fellowship provides a $34,000 stipend per year and a cost-of-education allowance of $12,000 to the graduate degree-granting institution per year for each of the three years to allow recipients to perform research on topics they are interested in as they also work to obtain their Ph.D. Brueggeman plans to pursue a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas this fall and recently accepted a research assistantship with Dr. John Hansen, director of the Center for Robust Speech Systems, where she will focus on research in speech processing and cochlear implants.

“It feels amazing to have received this fellowship,” Brueggeman, a Reedsburg, Wisconsin native, said. “I actually received the email announcing that I won around 1 a.m. on a Monday night, and I couldn’t sleep after. It was a great surprise.”

The NSF fellowship is exclusive in that the NSF selects recipients based on high levels of research success and promising futures within the designated fields of science and engineering. Brueggeman is the third UW-Platteville student to receive the fellowship in the past four years.

In addition to her electrical engineering major, Brueggeman also carries a computer science minor with emphases in computer engineering and controls engineering. She has used her academic career to participate in a variety of research projects regarding her interests in speech processing and cochlear implants at UW-Platteville.

For the last two years, Brueggeman has worked with Dr. Hynek Boril, assistant professor of electrical engineering, as a member of his research group, the Pioneer Speech Signal Processing Laboratory. During this time, she has worked on several digital signal processing and machine learning projects, such as developing an automatic speech activity detector – a program that identifies speech and non-speech from a recording –  and an automatic music signal classifier – a program that identifies pitches and the times they were played from a recording.

“I first met Dr. Boril after taking his class, Introduction to Microprocessors, in fall 2016,” Brueggeman recalled. “On the first day of class, he explained his research interests in speech recognition and analysis, and the kind of work he does with students in the PSSPL. I later asked if I could join the lab because it sounded so cool.”

Brueggeman is also currently working on a gender classifier to distinguish between male and female voices. She previously worked on a collaborative research project with the CRSS and helped develop Android applications for their CCi-MOBILE research platform for cochlear implants.

After learning about the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program through Will Hoyer, director of student research at UW-Platteville, Brueggeman began the application process last year. After completing the application form, a three-page personal statement, a two-page graduate research statement and collecting three letters of recommendation, she applied. Despite her abundant research experience and previous accolades including an Honorable Mention from the Goldwater Scholarship Awards, Brueggeman was still unsure of the results.

“I wasn’t expecting to win at all,” she recalled. “I feel so grateful to everyone who helped me and supported me through the application. I’m very excited to start my Ph.D. at UT-Dallas in August.”

Brueggeman was recently bestowed an additional honor, when UT-Dallas awarded her the Eugene McDermott Graduate Fellowship. This will provide an additional $10,000 annual supplement to her NSF scholarship, as well as a $10,000 annual research budget to use for travel to conferences, equipment and student research assistants.

For more information about the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, visit www.nsfgrfp.org.


Written by: Amanda Bertolozzi, Writer/Editor, Communications, 608-342-7121, bertolozzia@uwplatt.edu

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