The Nine 2021: Sarabeth Mullins

Sarabeth Mullins, SCN: The Nine 2021
(Image credit: Future)

Title: Doctoral Student

Company: Sorbonne Université

Location: Paris, France

Twitter: @SarabethMullins

Overtime: When taking a break from her studies, Mullins enjoys phonography, hiking, researching obscure topics for fun, and composing.

Musically Inclined: While Mullins studied music theory and composition at Biola University, she rekindled an interest in sound, digital signal processing, and acoustics.

“At the time, there was both a practical attraction and a personal one,” she recalled. “On the one hand, it’s hard to find steady work as a composer in the 21st century. On the other hand, the digitization of an analog signal and all that implies was something I wanted to become an expert in. I saw AV as an ideal field to pursue, since it combines so many of my personal interests with challenging and stimulating work. I like to learn and to innovate, and to combine the technical with the artistic. AV is unique field that requires all of these.”

This interest in sound led Mullins to connect with AVIXA and pursue internships in AV consulting. During college, she spent time interning at Affiliated Engineers Northwest in her hometown of Seattle. Post-college, she interned at Stantec and then spent nine months working there as an acoustic consultant.

Always Learning: Shortly after becoming a consultant, Mullins began thinking about continuing her education. “I realized I had more of an interest in the ‘why’ of sound than the ‘how’ of sound,” she said. “I learned a lot about how to set up integrated systems, how to solve problems, but I didn’t really understand the ‘why’ of ‘Why does sound behave the way it does?’” In 2019, Mullins entered the University of Edinburgh’s master’s degree program in Acoustics and Music Technology, where she explored concepts in room acoustics, computer simulation, virtual reality, and interactive sound environments. 

Ever curious about audio, Mullins continued to pursue a formal audio education and is now a doctoral student at Sorbonne Université in France. Her work in the field of virtual room acoustics takes place with a group of researchers who specialize in experimental virtual archeo-acoustics. “My research focuses on the acoustic heritage of Notre-Dame de Paris, and I am excited by the possibilities of bringing the cathedral’s historic sound to life both for researchers and for the public,” she told AVNation in a recent interview.

What’s Next: As for post-graduation plans, Mullins is unsure what she’ll pursue next, perhaps for the first time in her life. “This is an unusual position for me, since I’ve always been the sort of person with a 50-year plan. I’ve made two of them, in fact. However, the last 24 months have been such a transitional time for me that I’ve abandoned my granular level plans in favor of more abstract values,” she said. “I want my job to include space for curiosity and research. I’d like to continue working at the intersection of audio technology and room acoustics. I’d like my work to be meaningful. And most importantly, I’d like for my work to explore the possibilities and promise within the broader field of sound.”

Get to know the rest of The Nine 2021.

Megan A. Dutta

Megan A. Dutta is a pro AV industry journalist, and the former content director for Systems Contractor News (SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine, both Future U.S. publications. Dutta previously served as the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV, where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage, an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.