I am an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California with a primary appointment in the School of Philosophy, a courtesy appointment in the Department of Linguistics, and a formal affiliation with the Cognitive Science Program. I created and direct the Meaning Lab at USC which conducts NSF-funded research into what adults and little children know about word and sentence meaning. Prior to my arrival at USC in 2017, I was an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Northwestern University, where I was affiliated with the Department of Philosophy and the Cognitive Science Program. There, I created and directed the Child Language Development Laboratory.
I received my PhD in 2014 from the Department of Linguistics at the University of Maryland, under the direction of my advisor Valentine Hacquard. My unofficial advisors were Paul Pietroski, Alexander Williams, Jeffrey Lidz, and Colin Phillips. At UMD, my research in semantics, language acquisition, and psycholinguistics was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada, as well as the (then nascent) Maryland Language Science Center.
You can learn more about my professional history from my curriculum vitae.
I'm a semanticist, which means I study how meaning is expressed in natural language. Presently, my primary research interest is in the relationship between semantic theory and cognitive psychology. In particular, I want to know how we can relate our formal theories, as developed primarily by linguists and philosophers of language, to theories of perception and conception. This amounts to thinking about the interface between language and mind on the "meaning side". I explore these questions primarily through the study of comparative and superlative sentences. This involves thinking about the logic, comprehension, production, processing, cross-linguistic realization, and acquisition of words like more and most. You can read most of my papers here.
I have led or been involved in collaborative research projects with linguists, philosophers, psychologists, and computer scientists. Some of these researchers were undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral scholars, usually under my direction. I have helped build research infrastructure and public outreach projects with researchers across the communication sciences. I try to make semantics research accessible to a broader audience through my blog.
I have designed and taught a number of courses from an advanced undergraduate seminar when I was a graduate student at UMD, to undergraduate and graduate courses at NU and USC. These span the range of beginner to advanced courses in formal semantics, and topical courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels in semantics, language acquisition, and philosophy of language. You can find out more about my courses here.
Since coming to USC, I have co-taught with Roumyana Pancheva (ESSLLI, Summer 2018) and Barry Schein (Ontology & Logical Form, Fall 2018). While at NU, I co-taught a course with Fabrizio Cariani and Paolo Santorio (NASSLLI, summer 2016).