Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis is Distinguished Professor and Director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas. In summer of 2019, the lab is moving to Princeton University.
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 book On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind (Oxford University Press) received the 2014 Wallace Berry Award from the Society for Music Theory, and the 2015 ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award. Her latest book The Psychology of Music: A Very Short Introduction is coming out with Oxford University Press this year. She is a 2016 Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and a 2016 Chancellor Faculty Fellow at the University of Arkansas, pursuing a project devoted to facilitating interdisciplinary work across campus. Her cross-cultural research on narrative perceptions of music is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. She is President-Elect of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition.
Her work has appeared in diverse journals including Music Perception; Journal of Music Theory; Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience; Music Theory Spectrum; PLOS ONE; Frontiers in Psychology; Journal of the Acoustical Society of America; Computer Music Journal; Psychology of Music; Scientific Reports; Journal of New Music Research; Empirical Studies of the Arts; Review of General Psychology; Neurocase; Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain; Human Brain Mapping; Nature; Attention, Perception & Psychophysics; American Journal of Bioethics; and Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, as well as in handbooks on topic theory, music and emotion, concepts in music theory, and music cognition. Her research has been featured in media outlets ranging from New Scientist Magazine to Readers Digest to the London Times, and on BBC and NPR (All Things Considered and Science Friday). She blogs about music cognition at Psychology Today (Looking at Listening).
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 over 40 invited talks at universities in the US, including University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and New York University and abroad at such institutions as McGill University in Canada, University of Cambridge in the UK, 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 has served on the Executive Board of the Society for Music Theory (SMT), as well as on the Board of Directors and as Treasurer for the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (SMPC), and the Board of Editors of the Journal of New Music Research and the Board of Associate Editors for the journal Music Perception. She is also active in the arts life of her local community, having served 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 and the Teaching Award for Undergraduate Research, started a campus-wide Cognitive Science Group, and won two grants to design new interdisciplinary courses at the University of Arkansas.
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 was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, UK.