Linguistics

I am a fourth year PhD student studying Linguistics at the University of Southern California (USC), under the advisement of Louis Goldstein. I received a B.A. with High Honors in Linguistics from the University of Michigan in 2011, and an M.A. in Linguistics from USC in 2015.

My main areas of focus are phonetics and phonology. I have led and collaborated on projects about speech errors, morpho-phonological processes, beatboxing, tracking articulator movement, and training computers to be dyslexic with neural networks.

Phonetics

The movements of the speech articulators are fascinating, as is the relationship between speech production and speech pereception. I enjoy positing phonetic grounds for phonological processes and speech errors. My research asks about the relationships between different speech articulators (e.g. the tongue and the velum), and what that means for our vocal instrument.

My background in phonetics is the basis for my interest in singing and beatboxing.

Phonology

Much of my current work in phonology examines derived environment effects and derived environment blocking effects. In particular, I am interested in the relationship between these two phenomena, the factors affecting when these effects appear, and the appropriate ways to model these effects in Generative Phonology and Articulatory Phonology.

In the framework of Articulatory Phonology and task-dynamics, my recent studies have considered the phonological status of velum raising. I am also interested in the phonological role of gestural strength.

Though my work is largely theoretical, there are certainly practical applications. Derived environment effects appear in many languages, altering the pronunciation of words under certain particular conditions. However, we have only just begun to understand the language-specific and language-general factors that affect rates of derived environment effect appearance. Uncovering the nature of these factors (e.g. speaking rate, lexical status, social context) will impact both our theoretical phonological models and our models for speech technology.

Singing and Beatboxing

The primary function of the vocal tract might not be speech or music, but we certainly managed to make good use of what we had. While recent work has begun to look at the musical things our mouths can do, our understanding of how singing works is still woefully inadequate (our knowledge of beatboxing and other non-singing music even moreso).

I am interested in how singing and beatboxing are produced by the vocal tract. For singing, I am especially interested in how the vocal tract articulators work together to create a resonance space appropriate for singing. Furthermore, I am interested in the differences between the resonance spaces used for different styles of singing, like opera, barbershop, and throat singing.

As for beatboxing, I am interested in how beatboxers use sounds that are used in language to create musical effects, and the extent to which beatboxers produce sounds that are not found in language. I am also interested how a performer's artistic style relates to their systematic methods of sound production.