Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences
B.A., Wellesley College; M.A., Ph.D., University of Massachusetts (Amherst)
Wellesley Faculty Assistant Professor of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences
Professor of linguistics; research interests include artificial language learning and acquisition of phonology.
How do humans learn language? This question first led me to study linguistics and still fascinates me today. Thus, much of my research has focused on the phonological acquisition of language, both child language and adult second language acquisition. I have worked on the acquisition of stressed syllables and function words by children learning their first language, and with adults I have studied factors that affect acquisition of a second language. Currently in my lab I am continuing my investigation into the acquisition of phonological stress by adults learning an artificial grammar. I'm also continuing to explore children’s acquisition of stress in multisyllabic monomorphemic words. Another interest is in the phonology of creoles. I am exploring questions of dialect loss and dialect shift among native speakers of Jamaican Creole who live in the United States and other English-speaking countries.
I teach Introduction to Linguistics, The Sounds of the World's Languages (Phonetics and Phonology), Invented Languages and, on occasion, Psycholinguistics. In a typical year I will teach the intro course both semesters, the phonetics/phonology course and an advanced seminar. I recently developed a course on invented languages ... very cool! My research lab also provides the opportunity to work with and train students on language learning projects.
As a recipient of great mentoring throughout my academic career, I am a strong believer in mentoring others to pursue their academic passion. As one of the coordinators of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) I work with students who plan to go on to graduate school to get a Ph.D. In our regular seminar meetings we address how to conduct research, find a good mentor, apply to graduate school, network with other emerging scholars, and more. I participate in the Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences reading group, which regularly meets to discuss current thinking in cognitive science and linguistics. I am a member of the Linguistic Society of America.
I am the mother of three sons. I am very active in my religion and enjoy studying the Bible with others. I also love Zumba, reggae music, jazz, R&B, and traveling to a warm climate in the winter.