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Dani Byrd

Dani Byrd

Interim Dean of USC Dornsife


As interim dean of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences since December 2015, Dr. Dani Byrd oversees USC’s largest, oldest and most academically diverse school. She also holds a faculty appointment in linguistics and has previously served in a wide range of other roles in the dean’s office, including executive vice dean, since 2007.

As a linguist, Dr. Byrd focuses on human speech production. She uses movement tracking and real-time MRI imaging of the vocal tract to examine the role that linguistic structure plays in shaping the production of speech. Her special research interest is in articulatory timing, or how the skilled, sound-producing movements of the vocal tract are coordinated with one another.

Dr. Byrd's work has contributed to increasing our knowledge of speech articulation through empirical laboratory study. Currently, she participates in various extramural-funded research programs. She is principal investigator and co-investigator (with Professor Shri Narayanan of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering) on two National Institutes of Health R-01 grants that examine speech production. Over the years, Byrd has supported nearly two dozen undergraduates' participation in research. She also co-authored the textbook Discovering Speech, Words, and Mind (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).

Dr. Byrd studied linguistics at Yale University, where she received a simultaneous B.A./M.A. magna cum laude. Focusing on phonetics, she attended graduate school at UCLA. There she was a National Science Foundation graduate fellow and received the UCLA College of Letters and Science Graduate Student Award and UCLA Association of Academic Women's Graduate Woman of the Year Award. After receiving her Ph.D. in 1994, she was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at Haskins Laboratories, where she later became a senior scientist.

After joining the USC faculty in 1998 and founding the USC Phonetics Laboratory, Dr. Byrd, entered the USC Dornsife dean’s office in 2007 with her appointment as vice dean for research advancement, transitioned to vice dean for faculty and research in 2008, and transitioned again to vice dean for faculty in 2011. She was named vice dean for institutional affairs in 2012 and in 2015 became executive vice dean, overseeing all aspects of USC Dornsife’s academic administration including faculty and educational excellence and strategic planning for programmatic and institutional development.

Dr. Byrd has received numerous awards and honors for her research, including the Acoustical Society of America’s R. Bruce Lindsay Award. She has been an editorial board member of the Journal of the International Phonetic Association and the Journal of Phonetics. She has reviewed research proposals for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.