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Student Research Opportunities

As the North Hall Endowed Chair in the Linguistics of African America my courses are intently focused on the language, literacy, and culture of African-Americans and that is also be reflected in my research. I welcome students from all different majors and backgrounds to do research with me. The different perspectives that you bring enrich the study of African-American language and the education of African-Americans happens in all contexts! I’m not as much concerned with your overall GPA as I am with your ability to engage with the material and show up.

I plan to write a book and several articles on language and culture in postsecondary contexts, with a focus on supporting the social and academic experiences of African-American students on predominately White university campuses. The book “Talking College” will include survey and interview materials. This book is a direct response to a request that my undergraduate advisor, the late Calvert Watkins made to me for such work in my junior year at Harvard. He believed that a comprehensive examination of how African-American students lived and learned on college campuses would answer long-standing questions of the nature of both the linguistic idiolect of individuals in highly unique situations and also provide information on how to best support the African-American academic speech community.

Students who are interested in joining my research group and working on the project should email me to set up a time to meet.

If you’re interested in joining my research group you should take or be in the process of taking the following courses:

  • African American English (next offered in the spring of 2019)


Examples of Previous Honors Thesis and Where Students are Now:

  • Mackenzie Fama (High Honors) Talking Southern in Virginia: Investigating the Presence of /ay/Monophthongization
  • Daniel Villarreal (Highest Honors) Closing the Communication Gap Between Undergraduates and Mathematics Professors; was a PhD Candidate in Linguistics, University of California at Davis; Now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.
  • Jerome Carter (High Honors) Retention of African American Students in Biology: An Examination of the Introductory Course Sequence; now a Drexel University Medical School Student
  • Kiara Savage (Honors) An Investigation of the Differences in and the Effects of Cultural Variation in the Parenting of Children with Autism with a Focus on Language Development; was a Graduate of the Vanderbilt Speech-Language Pathology masters program and  Intern at Washington, D.C. Veteran Affairs Medical Center; now a speech pathologist at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX.
  • Kenay Sudler (Highest Honors) Examining the Situation Faced by Speech Pathologists who Speak English with an Accent from a Foreign Language; now a speech pathologist at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Brooklyn New York.
  • Elizabeth DeBusk (Highest Honors), Language Variation in Literacy: An Evaluation of the Accuracy of PALS Testing in the Commonwealth of Virginia; now Manager of Communications & Academic Research for the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at The University of Richmond
  • Rachel Brooks (Honors) Can Education Compensate for Society? Sociolinguistic Theory and K-12 Education; was a Fulbright Fellow in Jeju, Jeju-do, Korea now a staff member at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College
  • Marvin Shelton (Highest Honors) Being An “Extraterrestrial:” The Need for Academic Emphasis on the Intersection of Race and Sexuality; was a masters student at the University Of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education now a teacher at the Riverdale School in Bronx, NY




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