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Meet Linguistics Graduate Students

Elias Abdollahnejad

I am currently a PhD student in Linguistics. I am originally from Mahabad, Iran. I speak Kurdish and Persian. I completed my BA in English Language & Literature (2009) at Urmia University, Iran and my MA in Applied Linguistics (2013) at the University of Tehran, Iran. I started my PhD program at the University of Calgary in September 2015. During these programs, I have done research in different areas such as Psycholinguistics, Theoretical and Experimental Syntax, Language Acquisition, etc. My Master’s thesis was on the Acquisition of resumptive pronouns by Persian learners of English. For my PhD dissertation, under the supervision of Dr. Dennis Ryan Storoshenko, I am investigating the word order and processing of Persian ditransitive forms using linguistic and psycholinguistic experiments such as Lexical Priming, Self-Paced paradigm, etc. I am an active member of the Psycholinguistics, Syntax/semantics, and Language Acquisition labs at the linguistics division of SLLLC. In these labs, I have worked on several projects and experiments such as eye-tracking experiments targeting reference resolution in Persian and word stress pattern of German. I am recently interested in pursuing my research in Language Modeling and NLP (Natural Language Processing).

Mohammad Alsamaani

I earned my BA in English and Translation from Qassim University in Saudi Arabia. Following my graduation, I taught English for four years in my hometown. After that, I worked as a TA at Qassim University for two years before coming to the US to continue my studies. I then obtained my MA in Linguistics from West Virginia University in 2014. In that same year, I joined the University of Calgary under the supervision of Dr. Darin Flynn.

During the course of my PhD program, I wrote and presented in the fields of syntax “Double Modals in Najdi Arabic”, morphology “Diminutives and Super-diminutives in the Buraydawi dialect of Arabic”, the phonology-phonetics interface “The adaptation of Arabic to Swahili: the voice onset time”, and second-language acquisition “Arabic by non-Arabs: the case of Gulf Pidgin Arabic”. Now, for my dissertation, along with my supervisor, I am also working with my co-supervisor, Dr. Stephen Winters, on different phonetic properties relating to the production of native and borrowed Swahili words (focusing on stops/ affricates) and how such properties influence the role of perception. The data collection for this project took place in East Africa (Tanzania and Kenya), where both first- and second-language speakers of Swahili were tested on their production and perception of the language’s finer details.

Kelly Burkinshaw

I'm Kelly Burkinshaw, from Deer Lake, Newfoundland. I completed a BA in Linguistics, with a minor in English, as well as an MA in Linguistics at Memorial University of Newfoundland, in St. John's. I'm currently working on a PhD in Linguistics here at the UofC - I study first language acquisition in English, and my focus is on how children learn vowels, given the different types of information they have available from adult-directed and infant-directed speech. My supervisor is Dr. Suzanne Curtin, and most days you can find me over in the Speech Development Lab. I chose the UofC for my studies because I wanted to work with Dr. Curtin, and because the (then) Linguistics department seemed fun and welcoming, and I've found the city of Calgary to be a pretty great place to be!

Some of my non-linguistic pastimes include more knitting than any human should be doing, cooking delicious food (I hope?), attempts at non-academic writing, and kickboxing.

Adam Daniel

My name is Adam Daniel, I'm originally from Georgia where I earned my BA (Hons) in Applied Linguistics from Georgia State University in 2011. Afterward, I spent 4 years teaching ESL in Japan. I arrived at the University of Calgary in 2015 and completed my MA, thesis title: Clipping as Morphology: Evidence from Japanese. I am now in my PhD program here, my supervisor, Dr. Amanda Pounder, and I are currently looking at measuring the processing times of non-concatenative morphology, particularly in the scope of the Welsh language. I chose to study at the U of C, because it has a program which embraces a wide variety of linguistic fields, and its scholars have expertise and outlooks which are not only well-rounded, but also open-minded.

My main research interests and focuses are: morphology, historical linguistics, phonology, Japanese, and Welsh. English is my native language, but I speak Japanese with advanced proficiency, and I have a moderate knowledge of Welsh. Other languages which I have some experience in are: German, French, Italian, Serbian, Mongolian, Cherokee, and Etruscan.

Outside of linguistics, I enjoy a lot of around-the-home activities such as cooking, tv/movies, and reading (especially anything sci-fi or fantasy). I also enjoy travel, hiking, photography, and I am looking to get into tennis and/or rock climbing one of these days. 

Benjamin Peng Han

I am Benjamin, with a Chinese full name Peng Han. I am currently studying under the supervision of Dr. Dennis Storoshenko, who has great expertise in anaphor Binding Theories. That serves as my top motivation to join in the University of Calgary for a PhD study. I received my Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Arts in my home country China.

It is not a pity to have invested four years on Engineering because that shapes my logical thinking and provides different angles to look at things. My research interests focus on the syntax-semantic interface studies of Chinese Reflexives and Resultative constructions, which are also the topic of my prospective dissertation. In terms of extracurricular pastimes, I love anything relating to nature, like a zoo/park visit, documentaries on wild species, etc. Residing at the foot of Rocky Mountains, there is a feast of natural beauty to enjoy.

Merion Hodgson

I am a 2nd year Master’s student in Linguistics. My research interests include phonetics and phonology, language acquisition and reclamation of Indigenous languages. Currently, my focus is on Voice Onset Time (VOT) of stop consonants in Plains Cree and Plains Cree English in relearners, compared to those who speak it as their first language, under the supervision of Darin Flynn. Long-term, I wish to use my skills and experience to contribute to local language revitalization efforts while continuing to explore questions on how exposure to Indigenous languages impacts perception, production, and language attitudes enabled by the findings from my current work.

I chose to do my program at University of Calgary because as an undergrad, I experienced the great support that the people in the Linguistics division provide. Equally as important are the relationships they and the School have with Blackfoot, Stoney Nakoda, and Tsuu T’ina elders and language keepers in the area. Outside of studying, I am grateful for opportunities on campus to be involved, especially with the SAGE (Supporting Aboriginal Graduate Enhancement) UCalgary team, and as a tipi helper. Off-campus, I like to run around mountains and rivers, grow food, and make pretty/practical things.

Lindsay Hracs

I am Lindsay Hracs, a Ph.D. student in Linguistics. I completed both my B.A. and M.A. at UCalgary before landing a job in educational psychology where I used my knowledge of linguistics and language processing to teach reading, writing, and math in one-on-one therapy sessions.

After about 3 and a half years, I realized I was missing the academic life and decided to return to complete my Ph.D. and get answers to all of those burning research questions I still have. I chose to study at UCalgary once again so that I could work with my supervisor, Dr. Susanne Carroll, an expert on input in language acquisition. All things related to Information Structure are of interest to me, but my thesis research centres around the acquisition of the focus sensitive particle only. Specifically, I use computational modelling to investigate the interaction of input and learning mechanisms relevant to the learning problem. I am currently the president of A Higher Clause (The Linguistics Graduate Students’ Association of UCalgary) as well as a research assistant in the Second Language Acquisition lab. Outside of my studies, I am a competitive axe thrower. In my downtime, I love taking my dogs to the park and watching horror movies.

Brittany McDonald

I’m Brittany McDonald from Winnipeg, Manitoba. I completed my B.A. at the University of Manitoba in 2018 majoring in Linguistics and a minoring in Ukrainian. I am a first-year M.A. student studying under Dr. Betsy Ritter. My scholarly interests are strongly rooted in syntax and morphology, language typology, and differential argument marking. In my undergrad, I studied and completed documentation projects on Paraguayan Guaraní and Munsee Delaware (Lenape). I am fluent in English, French, and Spanish. I also have elementary proficiency in European Portuguese and Ukrainian. 

Outside of school I enjoy crafting, calligraphy, drinking buckets of tea, and eating popcorn. I also have played fastpitch softball for 18 years and have been coaching for three. I’m so excited to get to know my peers and professors in the SLLLAC and to see all of what U of C has to offer!

Mahyar Nakhaei

I am a first-year PhD candidate in linguistics at the University of Calgary. I got my BA in English Language Teaching from Islamic Azad University (2014) and MA in Applied Linguistics from University of Tehran (2017). I started my Masters degree at the UogC under the supervision of Dr. Storoshenko. I am interested in running experimental studies to study how pronouns are interpreted across languages and what factors affect their resolution by native speakers of each language, in particular. I have done some research studies on how pronoun resolution might be different between pro-drop languages such as Persian and non-prodrop languages like English. In my Master’s thesis at UoC, I investigated how individual differences might affect the interpretation of pronouns within a language.  Currently, I am planning to examine the behaviour of a controversial clitic-like marker (-esh) in Persian from a new perspective. I love statistics and data.

Brett Nelson

I received my Bachelor of Science in Linguistics from Tulane University (in my hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA) in 2016, followed by a Master of Arts in Linguistics from the same institution in 2017. After these, I came to the University of Calgary in 2017 to work with Dr. Flynn on phonology and the linguistics of North and Central American indigenous languages, including but not limited to Kaqchikel (a Mayan language of Guatemala), other Mayan languages, Tunica (a language isolate of Louisiana), and various Algonquian, Siouan, and Salishan languages. The presence of the latter set of these various languages in and near southern Alberta was a primary factor in my decision to come to the University of Calgary.

My research interests are varied, but include both phonetic and phonological aspects of glottalized consonants, morpho-phonology in constraint-based theory, morpho-syntactic typology, particularly of verbal inflection, and language documentation and revitalization. I am  currently working with several language revitalization and maintenance groups including Kuhpani Yoyani Luhchi Yoroniku (KYLY; the Tunica Language Working Group) and the recently established Kaqchikel Online Dictionary Project (website to be created soon). Apart from linguistics, I enjoy science of all kinds and science fiction, particularly of the time-travelling variety, as well as the occasional mental exercise. I am an avid sports fan and am always willing to learn the rules of new kinds of sport or game."

Dušan Nikolić

Hi, I am Dušan Nikolić, from Aleksinac, Serbia. I completed a BA and MA in English Language and Literature at the University of Niš. Currently, I am doing a PhD in Linguistics under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Winters, a proven expert in the field of Phonetics and Phonology. As my academic and research areas are Phonetics and Phonology, Second Language Acquisition, and Sociolinguistics, I have structured my PhD project around the perception of intonation as a marker of foreign accent. The goal of the project is to explore the second language intonation system by investigating the perception of foreign accent. I have also been awarded with, quite competitive, Eyes High International Scholarship and Dean’s Entrance Scholarship. I find that the UofC is the right place to complete the project as it offers not only great academic expertise and resources, but also professional organizations. This is why I am a member of the Phonetics Lab Team and the graduate student association “A Higher Clause”.  

As for non-academic activities, I enjoy watching movies, especially those in languages I can speak: Serbian, Polish, German, and English. I am very passionate about Serbian and Anglophone literature. On Saturdays, there are very few things that can top a distinctly warm feeling of a good read and sweet coffee. Yet, on Sundays, there is rarely anything more enjoyable than watching the Premier League (English football) and NFL.

Metehan Oğuz

I’m Metehan Oğuz, from Kocaeli, Turkey. I’m currently in the first year of my M.A. I got my BA in Foreign Language Education at Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. I am studying under supervision of Dr. Dennis Storoshenko at the U of C. I am interested in syntax and psycholinguistics and planning to study on Turkish language. I choose to study at U of C because it offers opportunity to study with many highly respected scholars, who are experts on different fields of linguistics studies. I’m funded by the department of linguistics, and working here as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. In addition to my mother tongue Turkish, I can speak English fluently and I can speak just a little bit of German.

Other than linguistics, I am interested in motorsports (especially rally) and soccer. I love driving and go-karting.

After my M.A. at U of C, I’m planning to continue my academic life with a PhD.

Lyndon Rey

I'm currently in the 1st year of my M.A., focusing on speech perception, and more broadly, computational linguistics. My B.A. honours spec. Linguistics is from the University of Western Ontario, in London Ontario. Specifically, I (along with my supervisor, Dr. Stephen Winters) try to model stress perception in Canadian French and English. I currently am working with the support of the Queen Elizabeth II scholarship. I speak Canadian English natively and Canadian French fluently.

Within the linguistics division and the SLLLC, I serve as the linguistics graduate representative. Within U of C as a whole, I play fullback for the Dinos Men's rugby team.

Kang Xu

I am Kang Xu, a Ph.D. student in Linguistics. I completed my B.A. in Linguistics at Memorial University of Newfoundland and my M.A. in Linguistics at Western University. I am interested in several sub-fields of linguistics including syntax, sociolinguistics, language documentation, and linguistics theories  in general. At Western, I focused my research on some syntax and discourse-related issues of Malagasy dia topicalization sentences.

I speak Wuhanhua (my hometown dialect); Mandarin; English and a little bit of Japanese.

The reason why I chose University of Calgary is that I know that the Linguistics program here at University of Calgary is excellent. Also, I know that Calgary is a nice city to live. 

Linguistics aside, I also enjoy singing. I have a pet dog (a French Bichon) who is very very cute.