Linguistics Research Opportunities at Yale

Undergraduates have many opportunities to do research in the department with individual faculty or research groups, some of which are listed here. See also the list of labs for other opportunities.

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

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:

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

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
  • Semantics
  • Morphology/Syntax 
  • Neurolinguistics
  • 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

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 for more information.

Natalie Weber

My main empirical focus is on Blackfoot and Algonquian languages in general. I study aspects of phonology, prosody, morphology, and the phonology-syntax interface, with a secondary focus on historical linguistics. 

Starting in Summer 2020 I will have part-time paid positions available for students at all levels of background. If you are interested, please send me an email at with the following info: your name, year, major(s), and why you are interested in these projects. 

Current projects include: creating databases of words in older dictionaries and grammars, working with existing fieldwork materials, time-aligning and annotating Blackfoot recordings, glossing stories, and more. There is room for other related projects as well, including independent research on different aspects of the Blackfoot language, developing language learning/teaching materials, working through the grammar together, and more. 

Yale Grammatical Diversity Project

People often think of variation in American English in terms of lexical items or phonology. For the last several years, this project has been devoted to exploring variation in grammatical constructions. You might can visit our Yale Grammatical Diversity Project 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.

For more information contact Jim Wood at or Raffaella Zanuttini at

Haskins Laboratories

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).

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Any questions about the undergraduate program can be directed to the DUS below.