Dr Catherine Inez Watson


​I joined the Department of Electrical and Computing Engineering at The University of Auckland in February 2004. Before that I had been at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia for 8 years.

Macquarie University has a very strong tradition in speech and language research, this is spread across several departments. I had a joint position with the Department of Electronics and the Macquarie Centre of Cognitive Science. I was also a member of the Centre of Language Technology and the Speech Hearing Language Research Centre (SHLRC). I did my undergraduate degree and PhD at the University of Canterbury.

My main research interest is speech production for both humans and machines. My research includes building models of speech articulators, speech synthesis, robot speech, and acoustic phonetics.


Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Canterbury, New Zealand. (1995)
Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Canterbury, New Zealand (1987)



  • Joint Deputy head (research) of ECSE
  • Academic Lab Coordinator for Forensics and Biometrics

Teaching | Current

  • ELECTENG 736 Analog and Digital Filter Synthesis
  • SOFTENG 206 Software Engineering Design 1
  • SOFTENG 364 Computer Networks

Postgraduate supervision


Isabella Shields “Sound Change of /r/ in te reo Māori”, PhD (Current), with Peter Keegan

Itay Ben Dom “Detection of Emotion in Parkinson Disordered Speech” PhD (Current), with Clare McCann

Nicholas Eng “Improving the Quality of Recorded Speech Through Signal Enhancement for Robotic Applications.” PhD (Current) with Yusuke Hioka

 Brooke Ross “The English of Aucklanders and its relationship with New Zealand English.” PhD (Current) with Elaine Ballard

Ben Dom, I. “Classification of emotions from glottal pulse derived from inverse filtering of the speech signal” ME (2017)

Stephen Bier “Simulating the effects of aging on the Larynx using acoustic and physiological models” PhD (2017)

Hamed Altari “Phonetics and phonology of gutturals and emphatics in Yemeni Arabic” PhD (2018),Co Supervisor

Tian Li  “Expressive New Zealand English Recognition Based on the Combination of Excitation Source and Vocal Tract Features” PhD Current

Jesin James “Modelling prosodic features for Empathetic Speech of a Healthcare Robot” PhD Current

 Hui, J “Speech enhancement for synthetic voices on a Healthcare robot for the elderly”  ME 2016

 Del Prado, F “Design and implementation of speech enchancement for building synthetic voices” ME, Joint Supervisor 2016

Jain, S. “Implementation of rapid voice prototyping for a Healthcare robot.” ME First Class Honours 2015

Thompson, L. “Eliciting And Analysing Perceptions Of Prosodic Prominence A Māori Case Study” PhD University of Auckland 2015

Teutenberg,  J. “On the transformation of Accent” PhD, Joint Supervisor, University of Auckland  2010   

Fan, H “Modelling Vocal Tracts from MRI data: Tools and Analysis” ME 2013

 Liu,W “Assessing and Improving the Intelligibility of synthetic voices on a healthcare robot” ME  First Class Honours 2013

Aleksandar Igic  “Synthetic Speech for a Healthcare Robot: Investigation, Issues, and Implementation.” ME 2010

Onaka, A. “Articulatory and Acoustic features of Japanese Intonation” PhD (Joint Supervisor), Macquarie University, 2007   

Evans, Z. “Acoustic and articulatory consequences of hypo- and hyper articulation” PhD (Co-Supervisor) Macquarie University, 2004

Areas of expertise

Speech Processing, Acoustic Phonetics, Speech Synthesis, Speech Production, Phonetics of New Zealand English and  Mäori

Committees/Professional groups/Services


Professional Affiliations

  • Member of the Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association
  • Partner of the New Zealand Institute of Language, Brain and Behaviour, University of Canterbury

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Hui, C. T. J., Jain, S., & Watson, C. (2019). Effects of sentence structure and word complexity on intelligibility in machine-to-human communications. Computer Speech and Language, 58, 203-215. 10.1016/j.csl.2019.03.002
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Justine Hui
  • Stoakes, H. M., Watson, C. I., Keegan, P. J., Maclagan, M. A., King, J., & Harlow, R. (2019). The Dynamics of Closing Diphthong Formant Trajectories in Te Reo Māori. In S. Calhoun, P. Escudero, M. Tabain, P. Warren (Eds.) Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, 989-939. Melbourne, Australia. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/48752
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Peter Keegan
  • James, J., Tian, L., & Watson, C. I. (2018). An Open Source Emotional Speech Corpus for Human Robot Interaction Applications. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association, INTERSPEECH, 2768-2772. Hyderabad, India. 10.21437/Interspeech.2018-1349
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jesin James
  • Mixdorff, H., Watson, C., & Keegan, P. (2018). Quantitative analysis of māori prosody from three generations. Proceedings of the International Conference on Speech Prosody. 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-128
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/43628
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Peter Keegan
  • Watson, C. I., Keegan, P. J., Maclagan, M. A., Harlow, R., & King, J. (2017). The motivation and development of MPAi, a Māori Pronunciation Aid. Proceedings of Interspeech 2017, 2063-2067. Stockholm, Sweden: International Speech Communication Association. 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-215
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Peter Keegan
  • Maclagan, M., Watson, C. I., Harlow, R., King, J., & Keegan, P. (2017). Investigating the sound change in the New Zealand English nurse vowel. Australian Journal of Linguistics, 37 (4), 465-485. 10.1080/07268602.2017.1364126
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/40134
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Peter Keegan
  • Bier, S. D., Watson, C. I., & McCann, C. M. (2017). Dynamic measures of voice stability in young and old adults. Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology, 42 (2), 51-61. 10.3109/14015439.2016.1156155
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Clare McCann
  • Watson, C., Maclagan, M. A., King, J., Harlow, R., & Keegan, P. J. (2016). Sound change in Māori and the Influence of New Zealand English. Journal of the International Phonetics Association, 46 (2), 185-218. 10.1017/S0025100316000025
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Peter Keegan


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 7, Room 765
New Zealand

Web links