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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com.
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 we work on and what the project is about.
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.
Professor Maria Piñango
I 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
- Historical Linguistics
- Any seminar taught by me
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com 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).
Opportunities at other institutions for Summer 2019
The Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab is looking for a undergraduate summer intern with experience in Linguistics to work on an NLP project about text generation. We are trying to produce a number of models that mimic different styles of writing while controlling how much information about a particular topic is conveyed. (For instance, can you generate a letter from the American Revolution without mentioning major events?)
Interested students should contact Miles Calabresi (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Brief Job Description: The candidate will work on the IARPA Forecasting Counterfactuals in Uncontrolled Settings (FOCUS) program. Tasks could include research, analysis, modeling and simulation, and development of techniques for the automated generation of text-heavy documents. The NLP task is primarily focused on large-scale text generation with attention to perceived naturalness (grammaticality and felicitousness) and controlling the amount of “important” information that each sample actually conveys. Though the description is broad, anyone with experience in NLP or text generation would be a good candidate.
Primary Academic Disciplines: Human Language Technology, Natural Language Processing, Computational Linguistics
Other Relevant Academic Disciplines: Behavioral Science, Computational Social Science, Psychology, Operations Research, Mathematics, Social Science, Quantitative Social Science, Intelligence, Statistics, Political Science
Required Skills:Microsoft Office, strong writing and oral communication capability, R or Python programming (or similar tools for computational linguistic purposes)
Desired Skills/Experience: Behavioral Science, Applied or experimental psychology, cognitive psychology, social psychology, operations research, quantitative data analysis, text analysis, text generation techniques, topic modeling, sentiment analysis, MATLAB
2019 ETS English Language Learning Summer Institute: Paid Summer Associate Positions Available
The English Language Learning (ELL) group in the Assessment Development Division of Educational Testing Service (ETS) expects to hire approximately 22 summer associates for the summer of 2019.
POSITION OVERVIEW: ELL summer associates will produce materials for use on large-scale, high-stakes standardized tests of English language proficiency. Each summer associate will work on one of the following:
TOEFL iBT® Test
The TOEFL iBT test is taken by nonnative speakers of English who are planning to apply to a college or university in an English-speaking country.
- TOEIC® Tests
The TOEIC tests are taken principally by people who need to communicate with both native and nonnative speakers of English in the context of the global workplace.
The test development work is intellectually challenging and rewarding. The work may include:
- writing items that test knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension
- identifying academic texts which are suitable for testing reading comprehension
- creating conversations and talks that test listening comprehension
- developing scenarios and prompts that allow candidates to demonstrate their speaking or writing skills
The program runs from July 8 through August 16 (6 weeks) for all test sections. Summer associates are expected to work 8:30–5:00, Monday through Friday, for the whole program, and will receive attractive compensation. All work is conducted at the ETS Rosedale campus in Princeton, New Jersey. Summer associates must provide or arrange their own housing and transportation.
The TOEFL iBT test and the TOEIC tests are global measures, so ETS actively seeks candidates who can bring diverse experiences and perspectives to the work. The ELL Summer Institute workforce includes people from a variety of backgrounds, such as undergraduate students, graduate students, teachers, professors, and professional writers. Applicants must have completed at least some undergraduate work in order to be considered.
All summer associates must have appropriate authorization to work in the United States. If you do not currently have U.S. work authorization, please note: Some candidates who receive an offer to be a summer associate may be able to apply for a CPT or an OPT work authorization visa if enrolled at a U.S. university. Check with your university’s international student services office or program coordinator for eligibility before applying to the ELL Summer Institute. CPT visas can usually be acquired quickly, while OPT visas typically take longer. Candidates who receive an offer and who need a CPT or an OPT visa should apply for one of these visas immediately upon accepting our offer. Summer associates must have a very high degree of fluency in English but do not need to be native speakers.
Each of the test sections hiring for the summer is associated with a specific work sample. You will need to complete and submit a separate work sample for each test section for which you would like to be considered. Directions for completing and submitting your work sample(s), along with a cover letter and résumé, will be posted on the ELL Summer Institute Web site athttps://www.ets.org/careers/ell_summer_institute beginning Saturday, December 1, 2018.
Applications are due Thursday, January 31, 2019. Applicants are selected mainly on the basis of their performance on the work samples. Work samples will be evaluated in February and March, and you will be notified of your status by Friday, March 15, 2019. For questions, please contact Recruiting Consultant Monica Hopkins at email@example.com
NeLLab RA position 2019
The Neuroscience of Language Lab) has openings for pre-doctoral research scientists, one position in Abu Dhabi and another in New York. A BA/BS or MA/MS 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 and a background in statistics and programming. A strong computational background and knowledge of Arabic are both big plusses. Most important though is a can-do attitude, a creative mind, superb organizational and teamwork skills and a passion for research.
The pre-docs’ roles 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.
We are looking to start these position in summer 2019. Evaluation of applications will begin immediately.
To apply, please email cover letter, CV and names of references to Liina Pylkkänen at firstname.lastname@example.org and Alec Marantz at email@example.com. Please indicate if you have a preference for Abu Dhabi vs. NYC. Application Deadline: (Open until filled)
Opportunities at other institutions for Summer 2018
Below you can find a list of Employment Opportunites from Summer 2018. Many of these opportunities will be available again for Summer 2019. We will update the information as it becomes available.
The Department of Linguistics at the University of Maryland, is looking to fill up to 3 full-time positions for post-baccalaureate researchers.
Starting date for all positions is Summer/Fall 2018. Salary is competitive, with benefits included. The positions would be ideal for individuals with a BA degree who are interested in gaining significant research experience in a very active research group as preparation for a research career. Applicants must already have permission to work in the US, or be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and should have completed a BA or BS degree by the time of appointment. The ability to interact comfortably with a wide variety of people (and machines) is a distinct advantage. Applicants may request to be considered for all four positions.
The positions are open until filled. For best consideration, applications should be submitted by April 13th, 2018. However, review of applications will begin immediately.
Positions #1–#2: Baggett Research Fellowships
Baggett Fellowships are full-time positions. Fellows can pursue research in linguistics, cognitive (neuro-)science of language, language acquisition, or computational modeling. 1–2 positions are available for 2018-2019, subject to confirmation of funds. Positions are for one year and are not renewable. Information on the program and faculty mentors is at http://ling.umd.edu/baggett
Contact: Dr. Andrea Zukowski
Position #3: Research Assistant in Psycholinguistics/Cognitive Neuroscience
This person will be involved in all aspects of studies of language comprehension using behavioral and neuroscientific techniques, including electrophysiological brain recordings (training provided). The person will also contribute to Maryland’s Language Science program (http://languagescience.umd.edu/). Previous experience in (psycho)linguistics preferred. 1 year initial appointment, possibility of extension.
Contact: Dr. Colin Phillips
Applicants may request to be considered for all three positions, or any subset. Applicants for any of the positions should submit a cover letter outlining relevant background and interests, including potential faculty mentors (having multiple mentors is both possible and fruitful for the Baggett Fellowships), a current CV, and names and contact information for 3 potential referees. Reference letters are not needed as part of the initial application. Applicants should also send a writing sample. All application materials should be submitted electronically to the following recipients:
Positions #1–#2 - Andrea Zukowski; firstname.lastname@example.org. Put ‘Baggett Fellowship’ in the subject line.
Position #3 - Colin Phillips; email@example.com. Put ‘Research Assistantship’ in the subject line.
The Department of Linguistics has shared facilities for testing of infants, children and adults, eye-tracking labs, an ERP lab and a whole-head MEG facility, as part of the Maryland Neuroimaging Center. The department is part of a vibrant language science community under the umbrella of the Maryland Language Science Center (http://languagescience.umd.edu) that numbers 200 faculty, researchers, and graduate students across 17 academic units. The Language Science Center coordinates many interdisciplinary projects, including a research field station in Guatemala, and partnerships with school districts and various (inter)national organizations.
UNDERGRADUATE SUMMER WORKSHOP IN INTERDISCIPLINARY MIND AND BRAIN STUDIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
June 3 – 16, 2018
Linguistics Instructor and Teaching Assistant at John Hopkins
CTY offers challenging academic programs for highly talented elementary, middle, and high school students from across the country and around the world. We are currently seeking highly motivated and qualified candidates to work in our summer programs. Information regarding employment and our summer programs can be found at cty.jhu.edu/jobs/summer.
We are currently seeking individuals to teach or TA the following course:
· Linguistics (grades 7 and above)
Why teach for CTY?
- opportunity to teach motivated and talented students a subject they love
- limited class size (maximum of 18 students) ensures a low student-teacher ratio
- all classes are taught by both an instructor and a teaching assistant
- opportunity to work in an environment with colleagues who share similar interests
- competitive salary plus room and board at our East and West Coast residential sites
2017 Program Core Dates*
- Session 1: June 21 - July 14, 2018
- Session 2: July 14 - August 4, 2018
*Some sites run one week later than these dates. For a full list of locations and dates, please visit www.cty.jhu.edu/jobs/summer/sites_dates.html.
Terms of Employment
- Starting salary for two sessions is $4,800 - $6,000 for instructors and $2,400 for TAs
- Room and board are provided at residential sites. (Linguistics is only offered at our residential sites.)
· Teaching assistant candidates are generally graduate or undergraduate students with experience tutoring or as a college-level TA.
Instructor candidates generally have independent classroom teaching experience and are graduate students or faculty.
- Instructor and Teaching Assistant positions:https://cty.jhu.edu/jobs/summer/positions/residential/index.html
- Employment with CTY: www.cty.jhu.edu/jobs/summer
- Questions? Please feel free to contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 410-735-6185.
The Language Learning Lab at Boston College (L3@BC)
Directed by Dr. Joshua Hartshorne, is seeking undergraduate research assistants for Summer 2018. Students who desire more research experience and seek opportunities to contribute to various stages of the scientific process are encouraged to apply here. Application deadlines is February 1, 2018.
·The program will last 10 weeks (tentatively June 11 - August 17, 2018).
·The position is full-time (up to a 40 hour work week).
·The lab is located on the main campus of Boston College, which allows full access to the many opportunities in the city of Boston.
·This is a paid position. Each intern will receive a stipend for the summer ($11/hour).
·Students should be current undergraduate students with a major in Psychology, Computer Science, or a related field.
·Preference will be given to applicants with previous research experience and experience with children.
The University of Wisconsin – Madison Psychology Research Experience Program (PREP)
is currently accepting applications for the summer of 2018. This summer research opportunity program (SROP) offers a 10-week program of mentored research, with an emphasis on applying tools of data science to problems in psychology and neuroscience. It is tailored for individuals from groups historically underrepresented in our field: racial and ethnic minorities, first-generation college students, individuals from low income families, and individuals with disabilities. PREP covers all travel and living expenses, and offers a modest stipend. In addition to carrying out research at a top-ranked psychology department, participants will also interact with faculty and trainees associated with the NSF-supported LUCID graduate training program (“learning/understanding/cognition/intelligence/data science”). LUCID brings together expertise and resources from engineering, computer science, education psychology, and psychology, and offers such opportunities as bootcamps on technical skills (e.g., Matlab coding, multivariate analysis of neural datasets, high-throughput computing), and participation in the end-of-summer eLUCID8 conference (https://lucid.wisc.edu/). PREP students can also take advantage of numerous professional development and networking opportunities, and engage with a broader community of >100 students participating in one of the UW–Madison’s many SROPs. **Unique for 2018**: PREP students will have full access to CogSci2018, taking place in Madison July 25-28, 2018.
For more information, please visit: https://psych.wisc.edu/Psychological%20Research%20Experience%20Program.htm
General inquiries: email@example.com
Program Director: Brad Postle; firstname.lastname@example.org
To apply, use the online application: https://srop-uwmadison.fluidreview.com
Brief Reports from Summer Experiences
Kento Tanaka. I spent the summer of 2018 doing phonology/syntax research at the University of Hong Kong under Professor Joe Perry. The project involved documentation of Gurung, a Sino-Tibetan language spoken in Nepal. We were specifically interested in the relationship between tone sandhi processes and syntactic boundaries. However, my progress was slower than expected, so we spent most of the summer first trying to determine the tone categories present in Gurung without moving on to much else. In day-to-day life, I spent most of my time reading prior literature and preparing for elicitation sessions. Due to other constraints, I met with native Gurung speakers only for the latter part of the summer, which was less than I initially hoped.
I decided to go to HKU because I was interested in spending time away from Yale and outside the United States, and because I was looking for opportunities that more closely fit my interests (in this case, tone and phonology-syntax interface). I enjoyed being in a completely new environment and learned a lot from being in Hong Kong in general. I was also able to formulate a project with Prof. Perry that was interesting to me (he recommended the language and directions in which I could take the research, and we discussed from there), and I had a lot of control over my own time.
However, it took more logistic balancing to find a professor and an institution that would take a random student over the summer, apply for funding, and arrange housing and other logistics of being abroad (especially since I had never been to Hong Kong). I was fully funded by the Robert C. Bates Summer Research Fellowship, but definitely look through CIPE for funding that fits your specific project. Also, when communicating with professors outside Yale, it is important to be clear and open about what your expectations are in terms of research and other arrangements (but Prof. Perry was great in this regard). Other potential drawbacks to choosing your own summer project would be that the amount you accomplish can be limited without adequate time and institutional support. Also, it may be difficult to continue your project long term and bring it back to Yale.
If you are interested in finding independent summer research options, I would recommend starting early and asking Yale faculty to introduce you to people whose research interests align your own. Also, keep ahead of Yale deadlines for receiving funding and getting your research approved. Overall, I had a positive experience, so as long as you are willing to take the leap I would definitely recommend trying to do research outside of more structured programs and internships.
Katie Martin. In the summer of 2017, I worked part-time as a research assistant at Boston University’s Phonetics, Multilingualism and Acquisition lab (http://sites.bu.edu/pamlab/). Although I had an unpaid position, there are also paid RA positions if you apply earlier in the year than I did! I worked on a research project headed by Dr. Charles Chang, on Southeastern Pomo, an endangered language of California, and other student RAs worked on projects involving Korean-English bilingual children’s phonological perceptions and Asian-American sociolinguistics. Mostly, I annotated Southeastern Pomo elicitations using Praat, but the lab also had RAs finding study participants and collecting data.
Will Merrill. I spent the summer of 2017 as a full-time intern at the the Language Learning Lab at Boston College. The program lasted ten weeks, and I received a $4000 stipend. There were six other college-age interns in the lab, and most of the interns were working together on team projects, although I was assigned a project where I was the only intern working under a senior lab member. Still, it was nice being able to work with other students and there were plenty of lab social events where we were able to hang out together.
In general, the lab investigates questions related to language acquisition through the lens of developmental psychology. They aim to do this via experiments that collect large amounts of data on the internet. For example, they run a word game website that collects quiz scores and demographic information from millions of participants, and they have built models from this data to determine the critical period for native language acquisition (i.e. at what age you stop being able to acquire a language natively).
Most of the projects at the lab involve some degree of data analysis and programming, and developing familiarity with these technical skills is a major goal of the internship program. Since I had prior experience with machine learning and natural language processing, the project I was assigned to focused on building neural network models that take a second-language essay as input and try to diagnose fluency and native language of the author. This task was relevant to some of the online experiments investigating language acquisition, and the lab had also received a grant from BC to use it for language placement in their Spanish department.
The project I worked on is still ongoing (and probably will be for the foreseeable future). I know that a BC student took over my portion of the work during the fall of 2017, and I imagine there will be room for other interns to work on it next summer. While programming experience is definitely not a prerequisite of the internship program, I think that the Language Learning Lab is a pretty good place to go if you want to be able to work on a project where you will code. More specifically, there is a lot of opportunity to apply existing machine learning methods to research problems in linguistics. With that being said, I should stress that the lab is using machine learning as a tool for research; they are not aiming to do machine learning research per se.
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.