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Elizabeth Helmuth Margulis

Elizabeth Helmuth Margulis

Professor and Director of the Music Cognition Lab, University of Arkansas

CMS Research Affiliate



Lisa Hellmuth Margulis is Professor and Director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas.

Her research approaches music from the perspective of cognitive science. She is interested in the interface between musical structure and engagement, especially in listeners without formal training, and especially as it occurs dynamically across the course of the listening experience.

Her work has appeared in diverse journals including Music Perception, Journal of Music Theory, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Music Theory Spectrum, Frontiers in Psychology, Computer Music Journal, Pyschology of Music, Journal of New Music Research, Empirical Studies of the Arts, Review of General Psychology, Human Brain Mapping, American Journal of Bioethics, and Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, as well as in the recently published Handbook of Music and Emotion. It has been featured in media outlets ranging from New Scientist Magazine to Readers Digest to the London Times.

She has presented at conferences including the International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, the International Conference on Music and Gesture, the annual meeting of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition, and the annual meeting of the Society for Music Theory, and given invited talks at universities in the US, including University of Texas, University of Pennsylvania, and New York University and abroad at institutions such as McGill University in Canada and Tel Aviv University in Israel.

She has been a fellow at the Santa Fe Institute Complex Systems Summer School and at the Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music Theory (twice), as as well as a NEH Summer Scholar at the NEH Institute on Ethnomusicology and Global Culture. She is interested in arts advocacy, and received a Classical Music Initiative Grant from American Public Media.

She currently serves on the Executive Board of the Society for Music Theory (SMT), as well as on the Board of Directors for the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (SMPC). She serves on the Board of Editors of the Journal of New Music Research and as Associate Editor for Music Perception. She is also active in the arts life of her local community, serving on the Fayetteville Arts Council, the Board of the Fulbright Concerto Competition, and as the organizer of a monthly program featuring highlights from the Music Department on KUAF, the local NPR affiliate.

She received the Faculty Gold Medal for Mentoring Undergraduates, started a campus-wide Cognitive Science Group, and serves as the faculty advisor of CO-SIGN, the student neurology interest group. She also continues to play and teach the piano.

She has a B.M. in piano performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Veda Kaplinsky, and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. Before coming to the University of Arkansas, she was on the faculty of the music cognition program at Northwestern University. During the 2011-2012 academic year, she is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, UK.