Philip Rubin

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Philip E. Rubin
Philip E. Rubin 2005.jpg
Born (1949-05-22) May 22, 1949 (age 69)
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Residence Fairfield, Connecticut
Nationality American
Alma mater Brandeis University
University of Connecticut
Known for Articulatory synthesis
Cognitive science
Computational modelling
Embodied cognition
Human subjects and the Common Rule
Public policy
Signal processing
Sinewave synthesis
Scientific career
Fields Psychology, linguistics
Institutions Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Science Foundation, Haskins Laboratories, Yale University
Doctoral advisor Michael Turvey, Alvin Liberman, and Philip Lieberman

Philip E. Rubin (born May 22, 1949) is an American cognitive scientist, technologist, and science administrator. He is known for his pioneering development of articulatory synthesis (computational modeling of the physiology and acoustics of speech production), and sinewave synthesis, and their use in studying complex temporal events, including understanding the biological bases of speech and language. He is the Chief Executive Officer emeritus of Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, Connecticut, where from 2003 through 2011 he was also a senior scientist. In addition, he is a Professor Adjunct in the Department of Surgery, Otolaryngology at the Yale University School of Medicine, a Research Affiliate in the Department of Psychology at Yale University, and a Fellow at Yale's Trumbull College.[1] From 2012 through Feb. 2015 he was the Principal Assistant Director for Science at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President of the United States,[2] and led the White House's neuroscience initiative.[3] He also served as the Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences at OSTP.[4] For many years he has been involved with issues of science advocacy, education, funding, and policy.


Philip Rubin received his BA in psychology and linguistics in 1971 from Brandeis University and subsequently attended the University of Connecticut where he received his PhD is experimental psychology in 1975 under the tutelage of Michael Turvey, Ignatius Mattingly, Philip Lieberman, and Alvin Liberman.


Philip Rubin's research spans a number of disciplines, combining computational, engineering, linguistic, physiological and psychological approaches to study embodied cognition, most particularly the biological bases of speech and language. He is best known for his work on articulatory synthesis (computational modeling of the physiology and acoustics of speech production), speech perception, sinewave synthesis, signal processing, perceptual organization, and theoretical approaches and modeling of complex temporal events, and continues active research collaborations with colleagues at Haskins, Yale, and other institutions.

During his time at Haskins Laboratories, Rubin was responsible for the design of many software systems. Most prominent are SWS,[5] the Haskins sinewave synthesis program and ASY,[6] the Haskins articulatory synthesis program. SWS has been used by Robert Remez, Rubin, David B. Pisoni,[7] and other colleagues and researchers to study the time-varying characteristics of the speech signal. In addition to use in standard articulatory synthesis, the ASY program has been used as part of a gestural-computational model [8] that combines articulatory phonology, task dynamics,[9] and articulatory synthesis. With Louis Goldstein and Mark Tiede,[10] Rubin designed a radical revision of the articulatory synthesis model, known as CASY,[11] the configurable articulatory synthesizer. This 3-dimensional model of the vocal tract permits researchers to replicate MRI images of actual speakers and has been used to study the relation between speech production and perception. He is also the designer of the HADES signal processing system and the SPIEL programming language.

He is co-creator, with Eric Vatikiotis-Bateson,[12] of the Talking Heads website[13] and a co-founder, with Elliot Saltzman, of the IS Group.[14]

Rubin was the founder, in 1984, and first president of YMUG (now known as YaleMUG, the Yale Macintosh Users Group)[15] and the publisher of The Desktop Journal. Other co-founders and early members include Tony Cecala,[16] Eric Celeste,[17] Richard Crane,[18] Ward J. McFarland, Jr.,[19] David Pogue, Michael D. Rabin,[20] Tom Rielly,[21] Elliot Schlessel, Ed Seidel, and Sharon Steuer.[22]

Between 1999 and some time in the early 2000s Rubin was technical advisor at ZeniMax Media Parent company of video game publisher Bethesda Softworks.[23]

From 2000-2003 Rubin was the Director of the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)[24] at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, Virginia, where he helped launch the Cognitive Neuroscience,[25] Human Origins (HOMINID),[26] and other programs and was the first chair of the Human and Social Dynamics priority area.[27] While at the NSF he was the NSF ex officio representative to the National Human Research Protection Advisory Committee (NHRPAC)[28] and the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP),[29] established to provide advice to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on issues related to the protection of human research subjects. He was also the co-chair of the inter-agency National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Committee on Science (COS) Human Subjects Research Subcommittee (HSRS) under the auspices of the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and was also formerly the co-chair of the HSRS Behavioral Research Working Group. After leaving the NSF in 2003, he continued to be active on human subjects issues as they relate to public policy, including lecturing, writing, co-authoring an AAUP report,[30] participating in activities of the Yale Bioethics Center,[31] and serving on the advisory board of the Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics.[32]

Rubin has been in several leadership roles related to science policy and advocacy. From 2006-2011 he was the Chair of the National Academies Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences;[33] a member-at-large of the Board of the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences;[34] and the co-leader of the Yale-Haskins Teagle Foundation Collegium on Student Learning.[35] He is also the former Chairman of the Board of the Discovery Museum and Planetarium in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

He has also expressed concerns about the ethical and scientific oversight of the use of certain tools and techniques by the intelligence, law enforcement, military, and national security communities, considering some of them to be boondoggles. An example includes his serving as the Chair of the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on Field Evaluation of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences-Based Methods and Tools for Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence.[36] In a workshop report from that committee he provided an analysis of the use of voice stress technologies in the detection of deception and said "not only is there no evidence that voice stress technologies are effective in detecting stress, but also the hypothesis underlying their use has been shown to be false."[37] He was also a member of the NRC Committee on Developing Metrics for Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Research;.[38] On April 6, 2011, he provided testimony at a hearing of the House Committee on Investigations and Oversight - Behavioral Science and Security: Evaluating TSA's SPOT Program.[39] In his written and oral testimony, he criticized the TSA's SPOT passenger screening program, including raising concerns about the limitations that the Department of Homeland Security imposed on an outside review and oversight committee for the SPOT program, known as the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), of which he was a member, saying "TAC has not been asked to evaluate the overall SPOT program, the validity of indicators used in the program, consistency across measurement, field conditions, training issues, scientific foundations of the program and/or behavioral detection methodologies, etc. In order to appropriately scientifically evaluate a program like SPOT, all of these and more would be needed." He went on to say, "Shining a light on the process by making information on methodologies and results as open as possible (such as with devices like the polygraph, ..., voice-stress analysis, and neuroimaging) is necessary for determining if these technologies and devices are performing in a known and reliable manner. Clearly establishing the scientific validity of underlying premises, foundations, primitives, is essential. The larger the base of comparable scientific studies, the easier it is to establish the validity of techniques and approaches. ... In our desire to protect our citizens from those who intend to harm us, we must make sure that our own behavior is not unnecessarily shaped by things like fear, urgency, institutional incentives or pressures, financial considerations, career and personal goals, the selling of snake oil, etc., that lead to the adoption of approaches that have not been sufficiently and appropriately scientifically vetted."


In February 2012 Philip Rubin took a position as the Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President of the United States.[40] He also served as a Senior Advisor at the National Science Foundation in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate.[41] At OSTP he led the White House's neuroscience initiative.[42] On April 16, 2012, Congressman Chakah Fattah (D-PA) introduced House Resolution 613, supporting the OSTP interagency working group on neuroscience that Rubin is organizing. The resolution also "... commends President Barack Obama for the expeditious appointment of Dr. Philip Rubin to lead the working group's efforts."[43] In June 2012 was named by John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of OSTP, to be OSTP's Principal Assistant Director for Science, taking over the duties of Nobel laureate Carl Wieman, who resigned as Associate Director for Science on June 2.[44] In this new role Rubin also become Co-Chair of the National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Science, serving with other Co-Chairs, Francis Collins and Subra Suresh, Directors of the NIH and NSF, respectively.[45] He also co-chaired the interagency Common Rule Modernization Working Group.

During his tenure, key priorities for the OSTP Science Division included:

In February 2015, Rubin retired from OSTP and the NSF.[46]

Other Activities[edit]

Philip Rubin is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on Language Learning, created to examine the current state of language education in response to a bipartisan request from members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives.[47]

Rubin is a member of the Beyond Conflict Neuroscience and Social Conflict Initiative steering committee.[48] This organization assists leaders in divided societies who are struggling with conflict, reconciliation, and societal change. The initiative explores how insights from cognitive science and neuroscience can inform the practice of conflict resolution and diplomacy.

In May 2015 Rubin served as a judge for the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Robots4Us[49] Student Video Contest and was an invited participant in the activities at the DRC Finals in June 2015.[50]

In May 2016 Rubin was a signatory to an Open Letter[51] to the World Health Organization (WHO) calling on them to move or postpone the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro over the 2016 epidemic of Zika fever.[52]

On May 26–27, 2016 Rubin was a participant in the first ever White House Foster Care and Technology Hackathon.[53]

In September, 2016, Rubin was named as Director and Treasurer of iGIANT (impact of Gender/Sex on Innovation and Novel Technologies). [54]

Since 2017, Rubin has served as a member of the National Academy of Public Administration's NASA Advisory Council: Organizational Assessment panel. The NASA Authorization Act of 2017 directs the Academy to conduct a review "to assess the effectiveness of the NASA Advisory Council and to make recommendations to Congress." [55]

In December, 2017, Governor of Connecticut, Dannel P. Malloy, appointed Philip Rubin to serve as a member of the UConn Board of Trustees, the governing body for the University of Connecticut. [56]


Philip Rubin is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Acoustical Society of America, the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association for Psychological Science, and the Linguistic Society of America; is a Senior Member of the IEEE; and is an elected member of the National Academy of Public Administration, the Psychonomic Society, and Sigma Xi. In 2010 he received the APA's Meritorious Research Service Commendation "... for his outstanding contributions to psychological science through his service as a leader in research management and policy development at the national level".[57] On March 9, 2015, Rubin received the COSSA (Consortium of Social Science Associations) Distinguished Service Award "in recognition of his career of service to the social and behavioral science community".[58] In July 2015, FABBS (Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences) Foundation honored Rubin by adding him to the "In Honor Of ..." gallery of scientists program that recognizes eminent, senior scientists who have made important and lasting contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior.[59] On September 29, 2016, Rubin was granted lifetime membership in Nu Rho Psi, The National Honor Society in Neuroscience, "In recognition of outstanding achievement in the areas of neuroscience scholarship and research …".[60] In February 2017, Rubin was elected as a member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE).[61] The academy, chartered by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1976 and modeled after the national academies of science, engineering and medicine, conducts research in the public interest.

Personal life[edit]

Philip Rubin was born on May 22, 1949, in Newark, New Jersey. He spent most of his childhood in Newark and graduated in 1967 from Union High School in Union, New Jersey,[62] where his interest in science, along with classmates such as Marty Kaplan, was nurtured by the inspirational advanced biology teacher Irwin Jaeger.[63] In the 1960s he was a co-founder and guitar player in the seminal New Jersey garage band, "The Institution."[64] Rubin is a photographer who, since the 1970s, has concentrated on pictures of wall art, including murals, graffiti, and painted buildings, in the urban centers of the cities that he has visited. Speaking of the transient nature of wall art, he has said, "The artist is often unknown; the passing of time and the public venues invite unanticipated collaboration."[65] His work has been exhibited and sold at numerous venues.[66][67][68] He is married to Joette Katz, retired Associate Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court and currently the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.[69] They have two children, Dr. Jason Wilder Katz Rubin, a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital and Assistant Professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle,[70][71] and Samantha Katz,[72] Senior Art Director for Duarte Design in Sunnyvale.

Popular culture influences[edit]

In March 2010, Audiobulb Records released a CD by artist Autistici, titled Detached Metal Voice - Early Works (Vol. I). This album has been described as a collection of tracks that "explores the raw extrusion of the human condition."[73] There is an homage to voice synthesis that includes excerpts from many of the early laboratory attempts to produce the human voice via articulatory synthesis, including work pioneered by Philip Rubin and colleagues at Haskins Laboratories, based on earlier work at Bell Laboratories.[74]

Rorschach Audio - Art and Illusion for Sound discusses "Sine-Wave Speech, The Clangers" and other topics, influenced by the sinewave synthesis work of Rubin and colleagues.[75]

The sinewave speech projection "Poulomi's Ode to Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries" was presented at Rich Mix London on Dec. 3, 2010.[76]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Rubin, P.; Turvey, M. T.; Van Gelder, P. (1976). "Initial phonemes are detected faster in spoken words than in spoken nonwords". Perception and Psychophysics. 19: 394–398. doi:10.3758/bf03199398. 
  • Fowler, C. A., Rubin, P. E., Remez, R. E., & Turvey, M. T. (1980). Implications for speech production of a general theory of action. In B. Butterworth (Ed.), Language Production, Vol. I: Speech and Talk (pp. 373–420). New York: Academic Press.
  • Rubin, P.; Baer, T.; Mermelstein, P. (1981). "An articulatory synthesizer for perceptual research". Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 70: 321–328. Bibcode:1981ASAJ...70..321R. doi:10.1121/1.386780. 
  • Remez, R. E.; Rubin, P. E.; Pisoni, D. B.; Carrell, T. D. (1981). "Speech perception without traditional speech cues". Science. 212: 947–950. Bibcode:1981Sci...212..947R. doi:10.1126/science.7233191. PMID 7233191. 
  • Kelso, J. A. S.; Holt, K. G.; Rubin, P.; Kugler, P. N. (1981). "Patterns of human interlimb coordination emerge from the properties of non-linear, limit-cycle oscillatory processes: theory and data". Journal of Motor Behavior. 13: 226–261. doi:10.1080/00222895.1981.10735251. 
  • Browman, C. P.; Goldstein, L.; Kelso, J. A. S.; Rubin, P. E.; Saltzman, E. (1984). "Articulatory synthesis from underlying dynamics". Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 75: S22. Bibcode:1984ASAJ...75...22B. doi:10.1121/1.2021330. 
  • Saltzman, E.; Rubin, P. E.; Goldstein, L.; Browman, C. P. (1987). "Task-dynamic modeling of interarticulator coordination". Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 82: S15. Bibcode:1987ASAJ...82R..15S. doi:10.1121/1.2024673. 
  • Remez, R. E.; Rubin, P. E. (1990). "On the perception of speech from time-varying attributes: Contributions of amplitude variation". Perception & Psychophysics. 48: 313–325. doi:10.3758/bf03206682. 
  • Remez, R.E.; Rubin, P.E.; Berns, S.M.; Pardo, J.S.; Lang, J.M. (1994). "On the perceptual organization of speech". Psychological Review. 101: 129–156. doi:10.1037/0033-295x.101.1.129. PMID 8121955. 
  • Rubin, Philip E. (1995). HADES: A Case Study of the Development of a Signal System. In R. Bennett, S. L. Greenspan & A. Syrdal (Eds.), Behavioral Aspects of Speech Technology: Theory and Applications. CRC Press, Boca Raton, 501-520.
  • Rubin, P. & Vatikiotis-Bateson, E. (1998). Measuring and modeling speech production in humans. In S. L. Hopp & C. S. Evans (Eds.), Animal Acoustic Communication: Recent Technical Advances. Springer-Verlag, New York, 251-290.
  • Rubin, P., & Vatikiotis-Bateson, E. (1998). Talking heads. In D. Burnham, J. Robert-Ribes, & E. Vatikiotis-Bateson (Eds.), International Conference on Auditory-Visual Speech Processing - AVSP'98 (pp. 231–235). Terrigal, Australia.
  • Rubin, Philip. (2002). The regulatory environment for science: Protecting participants in research. In Albert H. Teich, Stephen D. Nelson, and Stephen J. Lita (eds.), AAAS Science and Technology Policy Yearbook 2002. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C., 199-206.
  • Sieber, Joan E., Plattner, Stuart, and Rubin, Philip. (2002). How (Not) to Regulate Social and Behavioral Research. Professional Ethics Report, Vol. XV, No. 2, Spr. 2002, 1-4.
  • Rubin, Philip. (2004). NSF reflections. American Psychological Society Observer, Vol. 17, No. 4, April 2004, 20-22.
  • Thomson, Judith Jarvis, Elgin, Catherine, Hyman, David A., Rubin, Philip E. and Knight, Jonathan. (2006). Report: Research on Human Subjects: Academic Freedom and the Institutional Review Board. Academe, Volume 92, Number 5, September–October 2006.
  • Goldstein, L. and Rubin, P. (2007). Speech: Dances of the Vocal Tract. Odyssey Magazine, Jan. 2007, 14-15.
  • Hogden, J., Rubin, P., McDermott, E., Katagiri, S., and Goldstein, L. (2007). Inverting mappings from smooth paths through Rn to paths throughs Rm. A technique applied to recovering articulation from acoustics. Speech Communication, May 2007, Volume 49, Issue 5, 361-383.
  • Gordon, Judith B.; Levine, Robert J.; Mazure, Carolyn M.; Rubin, Philip E.; Schaller, Barry R.; Young, John L. (2011). "Social Contexts Influence Ethical Considerations of Research". The American Journal of Bioethics. 11 (5): 24–30. doi:10.1080/15265161.2011.560338. 
  • Rubin, P. (2011). "Cognitive Science." In: William Sims Bainbridge (ed.). Leadership in Science and Technology: A Reference Handbook. SAGE Publications: 2011.
  • Remez, Robert E. and Rubin, Philip E. (2016). Perceptual organization and lawful specification. Ecological Psychology, Vol. 28, No. 3, 160-165.
  • Rubin, Philip. (2018). Changes to the human subjects system: a view from someone formerly on the inside. FABBS Blog, February 16, 2018.[77]


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External links[edit]