Science Student Spotlight: Richard Lissemore

December 4, 2018

Richard Lissemore student

Richard Lissemore is a doctoral candidate in the Speech Production, Acoustics, & Perception Laboratory directed by Dr. Douglas Whalen, of the Ph.D. program in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences. Additionally, he is a student associate at Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, CT, where Dr. Whalen serves as Vice-President of Research. The recipient of a five-year Graduate Teaching Fellowship, Richard spent three years (2014-17) teaching undergraduates in the Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences Department at Lehman College, CUNY. In the final year of his fellowship (2017-18), he served as a Writing Across the Curriculum Fellow at Lehman College, where he was tasked with improving the scientific and clinical writing of both undergraduate and graduate students. He also worked closely with faculty members to assist them in the development of new course syllabi that would incorporate writing as a regular aspect of weekly class assignments. For the 2018-19 academic year, Richard was the recipient of a Graduate Center 25th Anniversary Dissertation Fellowship. He earned his Master of Philosophy degree in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences in February 2017 and hopes to defend his dissertation in the spring of 2019.

Richard’s research focuses on the intersection of acoustics and articulatory activity in professional singers. More specifically, his dissertation experiment examines a well-known transition area of the soprano voice known as the second passaggio, a musical pitch area in which the singer must change from a middle voice resonance to a head voice resonance by making changes to the vocal tract. To examine how sopranos actually make the acoustic change, his experiment employs ultrasound of the tongue in conjunction with optical tracking. The ultrasound imaging results in sagittal images of tongue contours, which can then be corrected via optical tracking for any movement the singer might make while singing. The optical tracking also allows for measures of jaw opening and lip aperture. Richard’s successful pre-dissertation research was recently presented at both The Acoustical Society of America meeting in Minneapolis and The Voice Foundation annual symposium in Philadelphia. Results show that singers employ a multi-faceted articulatory maneuver that includes jaw opening, wide lip aperture, tongue position changes, and an overall low tongue position in the mouth to accomplish the acoustic change. Singers who do not successfully and consistently make the acoustic change appear to not employ one or more of those articulatory maneuvers.

Richard’s return to school to pursue his Ph.D. followed a long and successful career as a stage performer, singing teacher, and performance coach. As a versatile performing artist, he was equally at home performing opera, musical theatre and concert repertoire. He has appeared with opera companies such as Cincinnati Opera, Central City Opera, National Grand Opera, the Opera Festival of New Jersey, and the Juilliard Opera Center.

As a teacher and coach, his hundreds of students have performed on Broadway, at Carnegie Hall, at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, in both American and International touring productions, and in theaters throughout the world. He is especially well known for his innovative and entertaining master classes in vocal technique and performance, which have been presented in New York, Canada, Korea, Mexico, and Germany.

Educated at two of America’s finest conservatories, Richard received full-scholarships to both The Juilliard School (Artist Diploma) and Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (Master of Music in Voice Performance). He is also a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Microbiology and Music. Current professional affiliations include Actors’ Equity Association, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, The Voice Foundation, and The Acoustical Society of America.

Additionally, he is the founder and director of The Singing Voice Science Workshop, an annual gathering of voice researchers, singing teachers, and speech-language pathologists at Montclair State University. Please visit and for more information.