Associate Professor | Associate Director | Glenfraser Endowed Professor

T: 778-782-3731
Room: K9678
They / She

Milena Droumeva

Milena Droumeva is an Associate Professor and Glenfraser Endowed Professor in Sound Studies at Simon Fraser University specializing in mobile media, sound studies, gender, and sensory ethnography. They have worked extensively in educational research on game-based learning and computational literacy, formerly as a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Research on Digital Learning at York University. Milena has a background in acoustic ecology and works across the fields of urban soundscape research, sonification for public engagement, as well as gender and sound in video games. Current research projects include sound ethnographies of the city (livable soundscapes), mobile curation, critical soundmapping, and sensory ethnography. Check out Milena's Story Map, "Soundscapes of Productivity" about coffee shop soundscapes as the office ambience of the creative economy freelance workers. 

Milena is involved with the International Community on Auditory Displays, is an alumni of the Institute for Research on Digital Learning at York University, serves on the board for the Hush City Mobile Project founded by Dr. Antonella Radicchi, as well as WISWOS, founded by Dr. Linda O Keeffe. They co-manage the Sonic Research Studio


  • PhD Simon Fraser University (Education)
  • MA Simon Fraser University Surrey (Interactive Arts and Technology)

Currently Teaching


Future courses may be subject to change.


Peer-reviewed / Journal articles / Chapters / Books

Blogs/Media/Invited Talks



Listening to the City: Livable Soundscapes and Urban Planning

In 1977 R. Murray Schafer, a then-SFU professor in the fledgling Communications Department, along with a small group of researchers, embarked on a project of sound and listening to the urban environment: a project that initiated the fields of acoustic ecology and soundscape studies. In the following decades, inquiries into sound have proliferated and cut across countless areas including environmental concerns, social issues, media and communication studies, and more recently - the anthropocene. Sound studies - a term more recently introduced by Dr. Jonathan Sterne - represents a way of approaching research by asking: what can sound tell us about our culture, our environment, our society? Many, including our own Canadian theorists of communication, have celebrated engaging sound as a way of disrupting narratives bound up in visualist, modernist culture. This SSHRC-funded project, "Liveable Soundscapes" combines sensory ethnography and digital media to explore listening as intervention into city life, urban planning, and the experience of sonic livability in relation to economic, geographic, and social inequalities. In 2020 our project won the SSHRC graduate storytellers' award with an audio work prepared by Stacey Copeland and Brett Ashleigh. Listen to "Sound is Not a Waste Product" here:

Part of Milena's research in urban soundscapes is a particular focus on artisinal coffee shops as spaces for work/leisure in the new creative economy. See here a Storymap interactive collection of some of most popular "coffices" in East Vancouver, hosted on ArcGIS: Soundscapes of Productivity.

Gender and Sound in Games

Media tropes such as the horror movie scream, the "valley girl" up-speak, and most recently the vocal fry have established themselves both as gendered archetypes of female voices and as forms of policing the inclusion of women in public media. A marked absence in this emergent conversation are female voices and "feminized" sounds in games: by virtue of being sound "effects" they draw on and solidify some of the most deeply entrenched gendered norms of sound design and voicing. Is it any surprise then that female public voices in the culture of video games garner some of the most vitriolic and misogynist responses? The bigger question that this project asks is, how are the power dynamics of voice, including silencing and speaking out reflective of and constituted by the actual media representations of women’s voices, "feminized" sound effects and soundscapes that are part of game texts and the gaming experience. In other words, what can attention to game sound illuminate about the replication of gendered representations across different media and media ecologies? This case study project on the battle cry - a sound effect that evokes specifically gendered, at times racialized and (over)sexualized connotations. Following a transmedia history approach, we've looked at iterations of the battle cry across three iconic series in the genre of fighting arcade games: Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Soul Calibur. This Refig SSHRC-funded work is described in a short education video (see above) and you can read more about it here, as part of First Person Scholar, an academic gaming blog. See also Milena give a TEDxSFU talk on the same topic here. 

Sonification for Public Engagement

Sonifying #metoo

Milena's latest work in sonification is a collaboration with computational (and sound) artist Brady Marks and it engages with a critical topic of importance: the #metoo movement on Twitter. The #metoo sonification you’ll hear below draws from a public dataset spanning October 2017 to the early Spring of 2018 obtained from Individual tweets using the hashtag are sonified using female battle cries from video games; the number of retweets and followers forms a sort of swelling and contracting background texture. The dataset is then sped up anywhere between 10x and 1000x in order to represent perceivable ebbs and flows of the hashtag’s life over time. The deliberate aim in this design was to convey a different sensibility of social media content, against Twitter’s zeitgeist and the affective behavior of “contagious” events, and in so doing to interrupt habitual and disposable engagements with pressing civic debates.