Lectures Lectures Music

KCL NMES Inaugural Lecture: Elaine Chew (Engineering-NMES & BMEIS-FoLSM)

The Inaugural Lecture celebrates a new professor at a university. Elaine inaugural lecture at King’s was scheduled for Wed, 11 October, at the Great Hall at the Strand Campus (details reproduced below). The event organised by Karl Evangelista featured a Disklavier sponsored by Yamaha Music London. The playerless reproducing piano re-performs Peter Child’s Epilogue that Elaine recorded before the lecture for the ending credits.

The Inaugural Lecture Series from the Faculty of Natural, Mathematical & Engineering Sciences (NMES) celebrates the journeys and career successes of our professors, to provide insight and inspiration from the faculty’s leading scientists. Elaine a Professor of Engineering, will present on the ground-breaking research accomplished through her career.

(De-)constructing music for cardiac diagnostics and therapeutics by Professor Elaine Chew

Music is ephemeral, its effects on the human body and mind are deep yet ineffable. This has led to many romantic notions about music’s charm, especially its influence on the heart. Research to date has sought answers by dissecting this sublime phenomenon, uncovering the why and the how of music through mathematical representations and computational algorithms.

My research is looking at music’s physiological impact on the human body in particular on the heart. The similarities between music and heart signals mean that music information research techniques can be used to represent and categorise cardiac signals. Additionally, music expressivity can be linked to cardiovascular measures and use to modulate autonomic response. Leveraging computational and musical thinking, my research aims to further arrhythmia diagnostics and cardiovascular therapies.

Alongside an exploration of my research, this presentation will also cover my personal research journey spanning art, science, and medicine, and include musical illustrations and technology demonstrations at a Yamaha Disklavier piano.

Speaker bio:

Elaine Chew is a Professor of Engineering in the Department of Engineering and School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences at King’s College London. An operations researcher and pianist, Elaine received a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Mathematical and Computational Sciences (Honors) and Music Performance (Distinction) at Stanford University, and Master’s and PhD in Operations Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she proposed the spiral array model. Prior to joining King’s she was a senior researcher at the STMS Lab (IRCAM) in Paris 2019-2022, Professor of Digital Media at QMUL 2011-2019, and Assistant then tenured Associate Professor at USC in Los Angeles 2001-2011.

A pioneering music information researcher, she is forging new pathways between music and cardiovascular science. She is Principal Investigator for two ERC projects: COSMOS, which aims to use citizen data science to probe music structures created in performance; and HEART.FM, dedicated to building tools to study how these structures affect cardiac response. Her work has been recognised by the European Research Council, Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER), and Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.