Marelie Davel is a Research Professor at North-West University, specialising in speech processing and statistical pattern recognition. She has a specific interest in multilingual speech technology development in under-resourced environments, and the data-driven modelling of human speech and language.
She received her undergraduate degrees (Computer Science & Mathematics) from Stellenbosch University, receiving the Dean’s medal as best student in the US Faculty of Science at the end of her Honours degree (Computer Science, 1994). For the past two decades, she has been actively involved in technology-oriented R&D, initially as an electronic enigineer at the South African CSIR, and later (2004) as principal researcher and the research group leader of the Human Language Technologies (HLT) research group at the same institution. During this time, she received her PhD from the University of Pretoria, with a thesis on bootstrapping pronunciation models – at the time, one of the core `missing components’ when developing speech technology in under-resourced environments.
She joined NWU in 2011 and became the director of the Multilingual Speech Technologies (MuST) research niche area in 2014. Consisting mainly of a small team of full-time researchers, MuST is an externally-focussed, project-oriented research environment. Recent projects include the development of an automatic speech transcription platform for the South African government, development of a new multilingual text-to-speech corpus in collaboration with Internet giant Google, and participation in the BABEL project: a 5-year internationally collaborative challenge aimed at solving the spoken term detection task for under-resourced languages.
In the past few years, Marelie has supervised/co-supervised 11 post-graduate students and participated in various scientific committees both nationally and internationally (Interspeech, SLT, MediaEval, ICASSP, SLTU). She represents NWU at the national Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR), frequently acts as an external examiner for post-graduate dissertations/theses and as a grant reviewer for institutions such as the local NRF and the Canadian NSERC. Since 2003, she has published 85 papers, attracting approximately 1,000 citations by early 2017.