Dominic (Dom) Massaro

Dom Massaro is Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Computer Engineering, director of the Perceptual Science Laboratory, and Founding Chair of Digital Arts and New Media M.F. A. program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He received a BA in Psychology (1965) from UCLA and an MA (1966) and a Ph.D. (1968) in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. After a two-year postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego, he was a professor at the University of Wisconsin until 1979 before moving to Santa Cruz. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a University of Wisconsin Romnes Fellow, a James McKeen Cattell Fellow, and a National Institute of Mental Health Fellow.

He is a past president of the Society for Computers in Psychology, and is currently the book review editor of the American Journal of Psychology and founding co-editor of the journal Interpreting. He has published numerous academic journal articles, written or edited several books (including Perceiving talking faces: from speech perception to a behavioral principle, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press; The Science of the Mind: 2001 and Beyond, New York: Oxford University Press; and Experimental Psychology: An information processing approach, Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.). His research uses a formal experimental and theoretical approach to the study of speech perception, reading, psycholinguistics, memory, cognition, learning, and decision making.

One focus of his current research is on the development and theoretical and applied use of a completely synthetic and animated head for speech synthesis, language tutoring, and edutainment. Based on this research and technology, he has implemented computer-assisted speech and language tutors for children with language challenges and persons learning a second language. This language-training program utilizes Baldi as the conversational agent, who guides students through a variety of exercises designed to teach vocabulary and grammar, to improve speech articulation, and to develop linguistic and phonological awareness. Some of the advantages of the Baldi pedagogy and technology include the popularity and effectiveness of computers and embodied conversational agents, the perpetual availability of the program, and individualized instruction. To make this pedagogy and technology available to everyone, he co-founded two companies, Fluent Speech Technologies (Now Sensory, Inc.) and Animated Speech Corporation (Now TeachTown). The science and technology of Baldi holds great promise in language learning, dialog, human-machine interaction, education, and edutainment.

Dom designed and patented a design of an educational clock for children learning how to tell analog time. Children make errors in attempting to learn to read a traditional clock. Using guidelines from the perspective of cognitive psychology and his own research, he modified the traditional clock to eliminate these common mistakes. This Kid Klok has been fairly popular and has been embraced by a variety of educators, including Montessori teachers.

In researching for the patent on Kid Klok, he uncovered some engaging factoids about time and wanted to engage children with them. His first book, Time to Learn About Time, in collaboration with Don Rothman and Bill Rowe. This fruitful collaboration led to a second book, Puzzles of Time: A Handbook for the New Millenium.

Dom’s research and scholarship have been supported by the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, the UC Discovery Program, Intel, AT &T, Tektronix, the Speech Technology Laboratory, the Cure Autism Now Foundation, the National Alliance for Autism Research, and the Center for the Advanced Study of Language.