Douglas H. Whalen has conducted research on a broad range of topics in speech perception, speech production, and cognitive neuroscience, as well as coordinating efforts to document endangered languages. He joined the Graduate Center faculty in 2011 from Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, Connecticut, where continues to hold the position of vice president of research. His perceptual work has highlighted the way in which listeners use all information available to them when perceiving a speech signal, even when the information might be misleading and thus better left unattended. Both behavioral and neural imaging work indicate that such a phenomenon is due to the precedence that the speech signal takes in the processing of our perceptual world. Whalen has been principal investigator for fourteen years on a grant from the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “Links between production and perception of speech.”
His results have been published in a wide variety of journals, such as Science to the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, and Language. His work with the late Alvin M. Liberman has received the most attention; both the evidence for and theory about the recovery of speech gestures during perception has generated continuing debate. He has also edited, with Louis M. Goldstein and Catherine T. Best, a volume of papers from the eighth Laboratory Phonology conference. Whalen is president and founder of the Endangered Language Fund, which provides support for documentation and revitalization of languages that may cease to be spoken this century. He received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from Yale University in 1983. He was elected a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America in 2008.