In my research, I aim to ask three questions. How can we, as linguists, most productively and most ethically document the world's incredible linguistic diversity before it disappears? Two, how can we come to understand how this linguistic diversity arose in the first place? And how can we use methodologies that have been developed in other subfields like the biological sciences to help us answer that question? And finally, how will the inclusion of all this diversity change general linguistic theory? I have strong connections with the Chuvash community in western Russia and the Idi community in southern Papua New Guinea and so much of my research is based in the Turkic language family or the Papuan language family but my general interests in activism and language endangerment extend beyond those two areas.
My approach to teaching can be summarized in three words: expectations, excitement and risk. I expect a lot from my students. I expect them to come to class prepared to think at a high-level and to engage meaningfully with the material. I help them to do this by flipping my classroom. I dedicate class time to small group discussions and large group debates and I assign as homework pre-taped lectures and diverse readings. I show my students how I engage meaningfully with the material by sharing with them how I find each topic exciting, or at least applicable to my research. For example, when we were talking about the Berlin & Kay color hierarchy, instead of just laying out the typological patterns, I presented them with the fieldwork data so that they could figure it out on their own. I know that my students have varied backgrounds, so I push myself to learn something new about their own fields so that we can apply linguistics to what they're really excited about and make those connections while we're in class. My main goal is to help my students take as much as they can from my class, as much as they can from linguistics and apply it to something that they're truly excited about.
When I think of service, I think of giving back to all the communities that have helped me get to where I am today. First and foremost, I want to give back to the linguistic communities that have helped me shape and inform my research. They've shared their time, their valuable knowledge and their beautiful voices. I devote a portion of my fieldwork time to language activism and language revitalization - anything the community needs and that I can help with. Second, I give back to the communities that have mentored and advised me. In particular, I do mentoring for the first-generation low-income communities and I'm also an advocate for women in sciences and higher education. Lastly, I give back to my department and to my university by sitting on committees and doing any kind of tasks to keep the department going, I'm always happy to do.
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