Professor Eliathamby Ambikairajah

Professor in Signal Processing


Telephone:    +61 2 9385 4002

Fascimile:     +61 2 9385 6743


Room:            226  Electrical Engineering Building


Professor Eliathamby Ambikairajah

BSc (Eng), PhD, FIET, CEng, FIEAust, CPEng

Former Head of School (April 2009 - July 2019)

Professor Eliathamby Ambikairajah received his BSc(Eng) (Hons) degree from the University of Sri Lanka, and received his PhD degree in Signal Processing  from Keele University, UK. He was appointed as Head of Electronic Engineering and later Dean of Engineering at the Athlone Institute of Technology in the Republic of Ireland from 1982 to 1999. His key publications led to his repeated appointment as a short-term Invited Research Fellow with the British Telecom Laboratories, U.K., for ten years from 1989 to 1999.

He has served as the Head of School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia from 2009 to 2019. His research interests include speaker and language recognition, emotion detection and biomedical signal processing. He has authored and co-authored approximately 300 journal and conference papers and is the recipient of many competitive research grants. He is also a regular reviewer for several IEEE, IET and other journals and conferences. For his contributions to speaker recognition research, he was a Faculty Associate with the Institute of Infocomm Research (A*STAR), Singapore in 2009-2018, and is currently an Advisory Board member of the AI Speech Lab at AI Singapore. Professor Ambikairajah is an Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Education since 2012.

Early in his career, Prof Ambikairajah earned the Best Paper Award for Younger Members by the IEE (UK). He received the UNSW Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 2004 for his innovative use of educational technology and innovation in electrical engineering teaching programs, a School Award for Teaching Excellence in 2003, Academic Management in 2001 and again in 2014 he received the UNSW Excellence in Senior Leadership Award.

In 2019, he won the UNSW President's 2019 People’s Choice Award. The People’s Choice Award recognises a single staff member who goes above and beyond in all five ‘Values in Action’, as evidenced by the number of votes from all UNSW staff members, and is awarded personally by the UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor.

Professor Ambikairajah was an APSIPA Distinguished Lecturer for the 2013-14 term. He is a Fellow and a Chartered Engineer of the IET UK and Engineers Australia (EA) and is a Senior Member of the IEEE and a Life Member of APSIPA. 


  • PhD, (Electronic Engineering), University of Keele, UK, 1982
  • Postgraduate Degree, (Electronic Engineering) Philips International Institute (PII), Holland, 1978
  • BSc(Eng) (Electronics and Telecommnications), University of Sri Lanka, Katubedde Campus, 1974


  • UNSW President's People’s Choice Award (2019)
  • UNSW Excellence in Senior Leadership Award (2014)
  • UNSW Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching (2004)
  • School Teaching Excellence Award (UNSW) (2003)
  • School Academic Studies Award (UNSW) (2001)
  • IEE Younger Members (UK) Award for the best research paper (1982)

Fellowships and Scholarships

  • Faculty Associate  Institute for Infocomm Research, A*STAR, Singapore, 2009-2018
  • British Telecom Laboratories, Invited Research Fellowship (10 consecutive fellowships) (1989 to 1999)
  • The Queens University of Belfast (Northern Ireland), Post Doctoral Fellowship (1983-1984)
  • University of Keele (UK), PhD Scholarship (1978-1982)
  • Phillips International Institute (Netherlands), Research Scholarship (1977-1978)

Membership of Professional Bodies

  • The Institution of Engineering and Technology (UK) (CEng, FIET) 1982 (Member) 1999 (Fellow)
  • Engineers Australia (FIEAust, CPEng) (2001)
  • The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (MIEEE) (1991), SMIEEE (2019)
  • Asia Pacific Signal and Information Processing Association  Member (APSIPA) (2010 to date)
  • International Speech Communication Association (Member) (2000- to date)
  • Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association (Member) (2006 – to date)


  • Head of School, UNSW (April 2009 - July 2019)
  • Professor in Signal Processing, UNSW (2008 to date)
  • Deputy Head of School and Director of Academic Studies, UNSW (1999 - 2009)
  • Dean of Engineering, Head of Department of Electronic Engineering, Senior Lecturer, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Ireland (1982 - 1999)
  • Scientific Officer, Ceylon Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research (CISIR), Colombo, Sri Lanka (1975 - 1977)

Visiting Appointments

  • Visiting Lecturer, National University of Ireland, Galway, 1985-1999

Teaching Areas

  • Digital Signal Processing and Applications, Speech Processing & Telecommunications

Research Interests

  • Speech and Speaker Recognition
  • Biomedical Signal Processing
  • Cochlear Modelling
  • Engineering Education

 Editorial Positions

  • Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Education (2012 -  to date)