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Acoustical Society honors Dyer

The Acoustical Society of America has presented its Gold Medal for 1996 to Dr. Ira Dyer, Weber-Shaughness Professor of Ocean Engineering, "for contributions to ocean acoustics, structural acoustics and aeroacoustics and for service to the Society."

In a tribute accompanying the award, Professor Arthur B. Baggeroer of the Department of Ocean Engineering and Dr. Peter Mikhalevsky of Science Application International, Inc., a former MIT faculty member, write that Professor Dyer's research has had a "profound impact" on acoustics over a career spanning nearly five decades.

His research focused on the statistics of ambient noise, they write, especially as related to distant shipping, leading to fundamental new insight on the nature of acoustic fluctuations in the ocean. In 1975 Professor Dyer launched a program, still continuing, which has studied reverberation, propagation and ambient noise in the Arctic. In the meantime, he has become the leading expert on ambient noise mechanics. "Whereas others gathered and summarized data, he explored the fundamental mechanisms of the noise and its coupling to the ocean," the tribute said.

"In the last few years," it continued, Professor Dyer "has led MIT's efforts in structural acoustics. He and his students are now making seminal contributions on the backscattering and radiating by complex objects as well as new methods for their control."

Professor Dyer obtained three degrees in physics from MIT, the SB in 1949, SM in 1951 and PhD in 1954. After his graduate study he joined Bolt, Beranek and Newman, Inc., where he remained until 1971, when he became head of what was then the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and director of Sea Grant at MIT.

"He soon led the department into new areas in ocean engineering which emphasized learning about the ocean environment," Drs. Baggeroer and Mikhalevsky write. "The character of the department was changed profoundly and its new name and status. is now known worldwide. At the same time, under Ira's leadership as director. the Sea Grant program, which was created to stimulate research and the wise use of the oceans, became a model, often emulated."

The tribute also praised Professor Dyer's teaching, commenting that he developed a graduate program in ocean acoustics and also nurtured several new subjects in that field, especially in conjunction with the MIT-Woods Hole Joint Program. It adds that Professor Dyer is known as "a consummate lecturer with a clarity that makes it all but impossible not to learn in his class."

Professor Dyer has served the Acoustical Society of America as president, vice president and executive council member. Previous Gold Medal winners included three former faculty members, the late Philip M. Morse in 1973, Leo L. Beranek in 1975 and Richard H. Bolt in 1979.


5/22/96 Addendum

A story in the May 15 issue of Tech Talk that named three previous faculty winners of the Acoustical Society of America's Gold Medal--won this year by Professor Ira Dyer--should have included a fourth. He is Dr. Kenneth N. Stevens, Clarence Joseph LeBel Professor of Electrical Engineering and head of the department's Speech Communication Group, who was awarded the 1995 medal.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 15, 1996.

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