Forensic Speech Science Committee (FSSC)

ASSTA’s Forensic Speech Science Committee (FSSC) evolved out of its earlier Forensic Speaker Identification Standards Committee, which was established in 1996, following discussions at the SST-94 conference. Its members, listed below, have considerable theoretical expertise in many aspects of Forensic Speech Science – in particular Forensic Voice Comparison, both with traditional and automatic methods.Click on their names to see their credentials (n.b. the committee has been updated on 3/1/2021).

Most FSSC members consult in real-world forensic case-work, both for police and private parties. Inquiries concerning forensic speech science case-work should be addressed in the first instance to: Dr. Shun Ishihara , or the secretary of ASSTA Debbie Loakes.

Helen Fraser (Chair)
Bronwen Innes
Shunichi Ishihara
Yuko Kinoshita (Deputy Chair)
Debbie Loakes
Phil Rose
Michael Wagner

Prof Helen Fraser 

Professor Fraser’s background is in linguistics, focusing on phonetics, especially its cognitive branches (those relating to speech perception, pronunciation and writing). She holds a BA (Hons) from Macquarie University (1983) and a Ph.D from the University of
Edinburgh (1989), and taught phonetics and related disciplines at the University of New England, Armidale, from 1990-2008.

Prof Fraser has been involved in forensic case work since 1993, and has consulted for over 100 cases since then. She has also published extensively in forensic phonetics (her first articles on this topic appeared in 1995), and undertaken research on various aspects. Since 2011 her main focus has been on forensic transcription – the science and practice of producing reliable transcripts to assist the jury in determining the content of indistinct covert recordings (audio recorded on hidden listening devices and later used as evidence in court).

Prof Fraser is now Director of the Research Hub for Language in Forensic Evidence at the University of Melbourne, where she leads research aiming to improve the handling of indistinct covert recordings used as evidence in criminal trials.

Fraser, H. 2020. Introducing the Research Hub for Language in Forensic Evidence. Judicial Officers’ Bulletin, 32(11), 117–118.

Dr Shunichi Ishihara

A/Prof Shunichi Ishihara is a co-director of the Speech and Language Lab at the Australian National University, and leader of the Forensic Stream of the lab. He is also the convenor of the Forensic Linguistic Program. He has an M.A. and Ph.D in Acoustic Phonetics from the Australian National University, and and M.Sc in Speech Science from Macquarie University. He has published many papers on forensic voice/text comparison with the likelihood ratio framework. He is the first person who applied the likelihood ratio framework to forensic authorship analysis. 

Dr Yuko Kinoshita 

Dr. Kinoshita is the Convener of the Japanese Program in the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra, and a research member of its former National Centre for Biometric Studies. She holds a doctorate in forensic speaker recognition from the Australian National University. Her 2001 Ph.D thesis Testing realistic forensic speaker identification in Japanese: A likelihood-ratio based approach using formants was the first study to successfully implement a forensically-motivated likelihood ratio-based approach to Forensic Speaker Recognition with formants.

Dr. Kinoshita has been a visiting fellow at the National Research Institute of Police Science in Japan, collaborating with Japanese forensic speaker identification experts. A member of the International Association of Forensic Phonetics and Acoustics, she continues to research forensic speaker recognition and has published several papers on it. Her research interests also include linguistic phonetics, and she also holds an M.A in phonetics from the Australian National University in which she conducted research on dialectal variation in Chinese. She is registered on the NSW Police scientific evidence expert list, and continues to do forensic voice comparison case-work.

Prof Philip Rose 
Phil Rose is adjunct associate professor in Phonetics and Chinese linguistics at the Australian National University, is a member of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences, and has been British Academy Visiting Professor at the Joseph Bell Centre for Forensic Statistics and Legal Reasoning at the University of Edinburgh. He has a Ph.D in Chinese Phonetics from Cambridge, and an M.A. in Linguistics and first-class honours in German from the University of Manchester.

Prof. Rose is author of Forensic Speaker Identification, in the Taylor & Francis Forensic Science Series. He has also published widely on forensic speaker identification. Phil’s short bio is here. He is a member of the International Association for Forensic Phonetics & Acoustics, and former Member of Council of the International Phonetic Association. He has done research for almost 35 years on similarities and differences between individuals in their speech, and has been undertaking forensic voice comparison case-work in Chinese and Australian English for about twenty years.

Prof Michael Wagner 

Michael Wagner received his Diplomphysiker degree from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich with a thesis on the computer simulation of an elementary-particle spectrometer in 1973 and his PhD in computer science from the Australian National University with a thesis on the acoustic-phonetic analysis of speaker characteristics in 1979. He is Managing Director of the National Centre for Biometric Studies, Honorary Professor at the Technical University Berlin and at the ANU, and Emeritus Professor of the University of Canberra. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia, a Life Member of the Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association, and a Life Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. He was Professor of Computing and Head of the School of Computing at the University of Canberra, Professor of Computing Science at the University of the South Pacific, and  held other research and teaching positions at Technical University of Munich, National University of Singapore, Nixdorf AG, University of Wollongong, Australian National University and University of New South Wales/Australian Defence Force Academy.

Michael’s main research interest has been in speech science and technology and he was the Foundation President of ASSTA and a Board Member of ISCA. Since 2010, his research interest has been focussed on biometrics, and he leads a spin-off company engaged in research and consulting in forensic speaker recognition. He is the author of more than 200 publications in the field of speech science and technology.

Dr. Bronwen Innes 

Some years after completing a Masters degree in Linguistics (Victoria University of Wellington) and becoming a secondary school teacher, conversations with her lawyer husband about the use of language in legal settings sparked her interest in working further in this area. She undertook a PhD with a thesis looking into misunderstandings and powerless language style within some Auckland District Court hearings. She continued her research into judges summings up for juries in criminal trials in the Auckland High Court and into how well people understand NZ bill of rights information used by police when detaining people.

She practices as a consultant forensic linguist, including giving expert evidence, as well as editing and training in plain language writing, and taught linguistics at the University of Auckland over a number of years. Recent casework has involved comments on witnesses’ evidence on a cold murder case, reviewing telephone calls and texts, preparing transcripts for and commenting on a series of recordings for a coronial case.

Dr Debbie Loakes 
Dr. Loakes holds a doctorate from the University of Melbourne, where she is working as a Research Fellow in the Research Hub for Language in Forensic Evidence. Her 2006 Ph.D. thesis examined the speech patterns of identical and non-identical twins – the extended abstract is available here. You can also read more about Debbie’s interest in forensics over the years via this blog post.

As well as forensic speaker comparison, Dr. Loakes’ research interests include the phonetics of Australian English, Aboriginal English and Aboriginal languages. She also has casework experience in contested utterances. One of her recent publications about Australian English can be seen here.