Research Opportunities for Linguistics Majors

Opportunities at Yale


Professor Claire Bowern

I regularly have paid positions to work on various aspects of historical linguistics, typology, and language documentation, particularly in relation to Australian languages. Current projects include work on color terms, flora and fauna borrowing, how kinship terms change, how numeral systems evolve, and how sound systems differ. Students work on a project for an entire year, ideally taking it through from developing the research question to writing a journal article.

Several undergraduates have published articles resulting from their research projects. The lab meets regularly and includes both undergraduate and graduate students. Further information about grant activities can be found at pamanyungan.net.

Both paid positions and independent study are an option. The projects are designed to make the most of students’ backgrounds, so as such, there is no compulsory background preparation; however, the students who have got the most out of their research projects have taken one or more of the following classes: historical linguistics, Australian languages, field methods, or a class in evolution.

Please contact me in the spring if you’re interested: claire.bowern@yale.ed


Professor Bob Frank

Computational linguistics applies the tools of computer science to the study of human language. My own work, and that of students with whom I work, focuses on questions ranging from the theoretical (why is human grammar structured in the way that it is?) to the psychological (how can we build a computational model of language acquisition or sentence processing?) to the applied (what role can ideas from formal linguistics play in the construction of systems for natural language processing tasks such as summarization, parsing or machine translation?).  Students are involved in existing projects, or work with me  to develop new directions for research.  Students who work with me typically come with solid programming and math skills and/or background in linguistic theory (especially syntax and semantics).

In addition to involvement in research projects, undergraduates also participate in the Computational Linguistics at Yale (CLAY) group.  This inter-departmental group, which includes undergraduates, graduates and faculty, meets weekly, to talk about on-going research by group members, and also to explore topics of interest to the group at large. 

If you are interested in becoming involved, or if you have any questions about this area, contact me, Bob Frank, at bob.frank@yale.edu.


Professors Larry Horn, Jim Wood and Raffaella Zanuttini  

People often think of variation in American English in terms of lexical items or phonology. For the last several years, the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project has been devoted to exploring variation in grammatical constructions. You might can visit our website to get a sense of what people are working on anymore:

http://microsyntax.sites.yale.edu

Our group consists of undergraduate, graduate students and faculty.  We meet every other week, discuss constructions we ‘re interested in and think about how they relate to what we know about English grammar.  We collaborate in preparing the pages that make up our website, as well as in working out analyses for the phenomena we study.

For more information contact Jim Wood at jim.wood@yale.edu or Raffaella Zanuttini at raffaella.zanuttini@yale.edu


Professor Maria Piñango

At my lab students have participated at a least two levels of responsibility:

1) Paid research assistant. This usually takes place in the summer, and the student gets some exposure to lab work while participating in one or two of the ongoing projects assigned by the lab director. No previous experience is generally required but a strong commitment to research is expected.

2) Rotation research fellow. This entails specific participation in an ongoing research project, or a project that is about to begin. This is generally not a paid position because here the objective is for the student to obtain specific research experience. So, there is a lot of training involved, and the student is expected to do some written work at the end of the project. This possibility is usually done as a directed research course. In this case, even though lab experience is not required, some basic background in linguistic theory is, and an ability to read and comprehend primary literature on fundamental issues in experimental linguistics is expected. 

So, in general, the students who do rotations or are hired for pay in the lab have a keen interest in syntax and semantics (the domain foci of the lab) and would like to explore the experimental side of those subfields. 

For more information please contact Maria Piñango at maria.pinango@yale.edu


Professors Maria Piñango

We have an ongoing research project that seeks to understand how semantic phenomena and semantic composition can be understood in terms of the mind and the brain. Students who are interested in getting research experience in psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics are invited to apply to get a chance to do a rotation in the lab. These start as unpaid positions and depending on your commitment, investment, and contribution may transition into paid positions.

Recommended background for working in the lab (at least one the following)

  • Language and Mind
  • Semantics
  • Morphology/Syntax 
  • Neurolinguistics
  • Historical Linguistics
  • Any seminar taught by Piñango

For more information please contact Pinango at maria.pinango@yale.edu


Professor Jason Shaw

Both paid positions and independent study options are available in the phonetics lab starting in summer 2017. Students gain hands-on training in designing, running and analyzing experiments, including Electromagnetic Articulography and Ultrasound experiments to investigate speech articulation and eye-tracking to investigate the time course of speech perception.

Helpful background includes coursework in phonetics, phonology, statistics, signal processing and cognitive psychology (particularly experimental methods).

Interested students should contact jason.shaw@yale.edu for more information.


Haskins Laboratories (http://www.haskins.yale.edu):

Scientists at Haskins Laboratories conduct research on spoken and written language and the biological basis for language and reading. Take a look at the website of individual researchers, see what they are working on, maybe even read a paper they wrote, and contact them directly to ask for a research opportunity. You can attach your CV and you should include a little bit of relevant background in your email (for example, mention your major if you have decided on it and courses you have taken that might be relevant to the project you are emailing about).



Job Opportunities

Four lab manager/RA positions in the Neuroscience of Language Laboratory at NYU and NYU Abu Dhabi (PIs: Alec Marantz & Liina Pylkkänen).

The NYU Neuroscience of Language Lab has openings for research scientists, which could be realized either as pre-doctoral RAships or as a post-doc. The RAs could be based either in our Abu Dhabi or New York labs. A post-doctoral fellow would be based in Abu Dhabi.

A BA/BS, MA/MS or PhD in a cognitive science-related discipline (psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, etc.) or computer science is required.

The hired person would ideally have experience with psycho- and neurolinguistic experiments, a background in statistics and some programming ability (especially Python and Matlab). A strong computational background and knowledge Arabic would both be big plusses.

The pre/post-doc’s role will depend on the specific qualifications of the person hired, but will in all cases involve MEG research on structural and/or semantic aspects of language.

In Abu Dhabi, salary and benefits, including travel and lodging, are quite generous. We are looking to start these position in summer 2017. Evaluation of applications will begin immediately. For the RAships, please indicate if you have a preference for either Abu Dhabi or New York.

To apply, please email cover letter, CV and names of references to Liina Pylkkanen at liina.pylkkanen@nyu.edu and Alec Marantz at marantz@nyu.edu.

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Pre- and post-doctoral research positions in MEG research in the NYU Neuroscience of Language Lab (PIs Pylkkänen & Marantz in New York or Abu Dhabi)

The NYU Neuroscience of Language Lab (http://www.psych.nyu.edu/nellab/) has openings for research scientists, which could be realized either as pre-doctoral RAships or as a post-doc. The RAs could be based either in our Abu Dhabi or New York labs. A post-doctoral fellow would be based in Abu Dhabi.

A BA/BS, MA/MS or PhD in a cognitive science-related discipline (psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, etc.) or computer science is required.

The hired person would ideally have experience with psycho- and neurolinguistic experiments, a background in statistics and some programming ability (especially Python and Matlab). A strong computational background and knowledge Arabic would both be big plusses.

The pre/post-doc’s role will depend on the specific qualifications of the person hired, but will in all cases involve MEG research on structural and/or semantic aspects of language.

In Abu Dhabi, salary and benefits, including travel and lodging, are quite generous. We are looking to start these position in summer 2017. Evaluation of applications will begin immediately.

To apply, please email cover letter, CV and names of references to Liina Pylkkänen at liina.pylkkanen@nyu.edu and Alec Marantz at marantz@nyu.edu. For the RAships, please indicate if you have a preference for either Abu Dhabi or New York.

Summer research opportunities at other institutions


Some are broad undergrad research programs where one applies to a certain lab, for example in the psychology or linguistics department. Some are nominally Neuroscience or even Biological science programs, but the neuroscience labs often veer into
linguistics.
 
ETS ELL Summer Institute: Paid internships available
Apply Here
Deadline: January 21, 2017
 
Harvard Laboratory for Developmental Studies
Apply Here
Deadline: Accepting applications for the 2017 program December 1st, 2016
 
Make a Difference in New Haven: TEACH
Apply Here
Deadline: TBA
 
SROP (Summer Research Opportunity Program) at the University of Michigan
Apply Here
Deadline: January 15, 2017
 
SROP at Berkeley
Apply Here
Deadline:TBA
 
University of Pittsburgh Center for Neuroscience SROP
Apply Here
Deadline: February 10, 2017
 
Internships at MPI Leipzig
Apply Here
Deadline: Various Dates
 
NYU Center for Neural Science Summer Internships
Apply Here
Deadline: March 15, 2017
 
Stanford Center for the Study of Language and Information Summer Internship Program 2017
Apply Here
Deadline: TBA
 
University of Oregon Summer Program for Undergraduate Research
Apply Here
Deadline: Late March
 
UPenn Summer Undergraduate Internship Program
Apply Here
Deadline: February 1, 2017
 
Yale Linguistics Boot Camp in Language Documentation
Apply Here
Deadline: January 31, 2017
 
Undergraduate Workshop in Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Apply Here
Deadline March 1, 2017
 
Kavli Summer Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience
Apply Here
Deadline February 17, 2017
 
2017 LSA Linguistics Institute
Apply Here
Deadline: June 15, 2017
 
Workshop on Data Management Plans for Linguistic Research
Apply Here
Dates: 29-Jul-2017 to 30-Jul-2017
Deadline: none
 
Summer School in English Corpus Linguistics
University College London
Apply Here
Registration Dates: 19-Jan-2017 to 4-Jul-2017
 
 
 
 
 
 
Find out how some of our Linguistics Majors have spent part of their summers over the past few years.
Here are some  brief summaries of their experiences:
 

Margaret Kandel. During the summer of 2014, I had the opportunity to work as a research affiliate at the University of Maryland through the CASL Language Sciences Summer Scholarship program (http://www.casl.umd.edu/node/2208).  I was paired with projects at UMD’s Language Science Center and the Cognitive Neuroscience of Language (CNL) Lab.

At the Language Science Center, I was involved in the preparations for the launch of the online Langscape portal, a linguistic database inherited by the University of Maryland from CASL that was made available as a public-domain resource this past fall (http://langscape.umd.edu).  My responsibilities included designing and authoring a K-12 Teacher’s Manual to the site, using the Langscape data to develop materials for a demo online language-learning program in Kituba through Transparent Language Online, working with the web developer to improve site usability and design, composing text for the demo site, recording demo videos for a presentation at the 2014 ACL conference, as well as researching potential collaborators and copyright information.

At the CNL Lab, I was involved with two psycholinguistic studies.  The first investigated how native English speakers process wh-dependencies and resumptive pronouns.  I helped execute an online sentence-completion task aiming to reveal if a resumptive pronoun within a syntactic island can be used to satisfy a gap dependency.  I worked with my supervisors to develop the experimental materials used in the study, set up the experiment online, devise a coding schema to analyze the results, and code the results.

The second study examined the theory of indirect learning as a language acquisition strategy using the That-trace Effect as a case study.  I annotated the relevant syntactic forms in several corpora of Italian child-directed speech that were then compared to corpora of English and Spanish child-directed speech to ascertain if there is enough evidence in a child’s linguistic input to determine whether or not their language displays the effect.

 

Tom McCoy. For the past two summers (2013 and 2014), I have worked full time at the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. I am from Pittsburgh, so working at Carnegie Mellon allowed me to spend the summer at home while still doing something productive. I enjoyed this arrangement quite a bit; it gave me an interesting and enjoyable job, and there were virtually no living expenses since I lived at home.

During both summers, my projects focused on making computational tools for under-resourced languages (i.e., languages that have a fair number of speakers but that do not have many linguistic resources available). In the first summer I developed a finite state transducer to serve as a morphological analyzer for Kinyarwanda, and in the second summer I worked on a tree-to-string transducer to transduce English parse trees to Malagasy sentences.

These experiences were not part of any specific program; rather, once I had decided that I would like a linguistics-related job close to home, I simply asked around to find professors who would hire me. I highly recommend this method to anyone else who wants to do something with linguistics over the summer but who also wants to stay at home with family.  The specifics of the experience may vary with regards to features like wages and office space, but many professors at many universities will be eager to take on summer workers.

One way to find an employer is to ask your Yale professors if they can put you in touch with any colleagues at the university of your choice. Even if none of your Yale professors have acquaintances at the school where you want to work, you can still try emailing professors directly. Relatively few undergrads are applying for summer jobs in linguistics, so most professors will be thrilled to hear from people interested in coming to work for them.

Phoebe Gaston. In summer 2012 I participated in the University of Michigan’s Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP), which is an eight week, fully funded, intensive research experience meant to serve as preparation for graduate school. I was paired with a faculty mentor who was the director of the Language and Literacy Lab in the Department of Psychology, and spent my 8 weeks as an intern in that lab. The purpose of the program is to have interns not only assist with the daily workings of the lab but also to develop and execute their own research project. I helped design working memory and language localizer tasks for a new fNIRS study on child bilingualism, assisted with behavioral testing and scoring and database work, and helped work toestablish experimental protocols for a new fNIRS lab at UM’s Center for Human Growth and Development. SROP also requires you to attend weekly seminars on the graduate school application process and preparing for professional life, and pays for you to take a Kaplan GRE prep course while you’re in Ann Arbor.
 
 
Hannah LaPalombara. In summer 2012, I spent eight weeks doing linguistic research in Kununurra, a small outback town in Western Australia. I received funding from Yale fellowships to volunteer at Kununurra’s language center, Mirima Dawang Woorlabgerring Language and Culture Centre (MDWg). The linguists and language workers at MDWg focus on the documentation, preservation, and instruction of two closely related indigenous Australian languages, Miriwoong and Gajirrabeng. My tasks at MDWg included analyzing older recordings of Garjirrabeng speakers, assisting Aboriginal language workers with writing and editing Miriwoong texts for publication, recording speakers while out in the field, and helping create lesson plans for Mirwoong languageclasses. I also developed an individual research project on the local creole language, Kimberley Kriol. I worked with Aboriginal subjects to make a series of recordings of Kriol, which I brought back with me to use for future research. I was given the opportunity to work at MDWg through a friend and colleague of Associate Professor Claire Bowern, whose lab on indigenous Australian languages I have been working in for nearly two years. Although MDWg does not provide funding for the position, they
are always looking for more volunteers. Their website can be found here: http://www.mirima.org.au/
A description of fellowships offered by Yale can be found on the Yale Office of Fellowship Programs (OFP) website.
 
Zach Maher. I spent the summer of 2012 as a full-time intern at the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, which is an organization that fosters collaboration of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, mostly inthe fields of psychology, computer science, and linguistics. The program lasted eight weeks, and I received a $4000 stipend, in addition to free housing and $600/month for food. Everyone is paired with a faculty mentor from CMU or Pitt and generallyworks more directly with a graduate student or post-doc. All of the work is at least tangentially related to education, and I was placed at Charles Perfetti’s Psychology of Reading lab, where I helped to develop an experiment to tease apart semantic,phonological, and orthographic processing in reading. Other students in the program had assignments related to second language acquisition, natural language processing, and use of “virtual peer” tutors who code-switch between African-American English and “Standard” English. We also attended weekly seminars where different work in the science of learning was presented and had a poster session at the end of our time. I should note that while I had the chance to contribute conceptually to the project, many of the interns were assigned more mundane tasks like designing stimuli, running subjects, and analyzing data that had already been collected.
 
More information can be found at the following link: http://www.learnlab.org/opportunities/PSLC_summer_internship.php.
 
Also, in looking for opportunities, I recommend linguistlist.org, which is where I
discovered this internship.