Faculty Research

The Department of Linguistics at the University of Oregon has a strong commitment to empirically grounded research with a fundamental interest in the nature of language. We study how language is used and how this use impacts language learning, processing, and structure over historical and developmental time. Given these research interests, we are also invested in the practical and interdisciplinary aspects of language and its use; that is, in its teaching, maintenance, revitalization, normal and disordered acquisition, loss, its social impact, and inter-relation with social structures and institutions.

Our research takes place across several labs on campus and in communities around the world. Please visit  individual faculty member webpages for more information. Departmental laborotories include the Discourse Lab, the Language Revitalization Lab, and a constellation of laboratories we refer to as the Spoken Language Research Laboratories (SLRL). We are also affiliated with two major research centers: the Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS) and the Northwest Indian Language Institute (NILI).


Melissa Baese-Berk

Associate Professor Melissa Baese-Berk

Melissa's research focuses on phonology and phonetics, typically examining speech perception and production, with special attention to non-native speakers and listeners. Her work has specifically addressed sources of variation in production and how that variation influences listeners in perception. She has also worked extensively on how various aspects of the perception and production systems interact. Her work is currently funded by the National Science Foundation and by an Incubating Interdisciplinary Initiatives Award from the University of Oregon.

Melissa's Website

Don Daniels

Assistant Professor Don Daniels

Don's research focuses on endangered languages in Papua New Guinea, where he has been conducting fieldwork since 2006. He is interested in language change, both from a theoretical perspective (what kinds of changes are possible in language, and how can we account for them?) and from a methodological one (how can we reconstruct proto-languages?). His research also focuses on synchronic language documentation as well as morphosyntactic description, theory, and typology. Because his research straddles both synchrony and diachrony, and because of his interest in morphosyntax, he is especially interested in theories that can “do it all”—that can accurately model language structure as well as change, and that are compatible with methods of comparative reconstruction. He works primarily with languages of the Madang branch of Trans New Guinea, and is currently involved in a long-term documentation project of the Sgi Bara (or Jilim) language.

Don's Website

Spike Gildea

Professor Spike Gildea

Spike's primary interests are documentary fieldwork, historical syntax, and historical/functional phonology. He has been working in South America with languages of the Cariban family since 1988, when he began fieldwork on Panare in Venezuela. A good understanding of historical syntax can only come from a good understanding of typology, and his focus in typology has been on the evolutionary connection between voice and alignment systems. He is increasingly excited at participating in the growth of a functional theory of phonology that could share many (and maybe all) of the foundational presuppositions that underlie our functional theories of morphosyntax. 

 Spike's Website


Volya Kapatsinski

Professor Vsevolod (Volya) Kapatsinski

Volya's research focuses on identifying the characteristics of units and generalizations that language learners extract from the language they hear, the biases that language learners bring to the task, and the way the acquired units and generalizations are used in processing. He uses experimental, corpus-analytic, and computational methods to address these questions. Much of his experimental work uses miniature artificial languages, which allow for complete control over the properties of the language and the training task and facilitate modeling by enabling him to expose the human language learner and the model to the same data. To increase ecological validity, the experimental studies are supplemented by analyses of spontaneous linguistic behavior as recorded by natural language corpora.

Volya's Website

Tyler Kendall

Professor Tyler Kendall

Tyler's primary research interests focus on social and cognitive aspects of language variation and change. Much of his work is firmly sociolinguistic, in that it is interested in understanding language and linguistic patterns in their social context - often following in the quantitative traditions of sociolinguistic research spearheaded by scholars like William Labov and Walt Wolfram - although he also pursues research questions via approaches from computational linguistics, corpus linguistics, lab phonetics, and psycholinguistics.

Tyler's Website

Kris Kyle

Assistant Professor Kris Kyle

Kris’ research interests include second language acquisition, second language writing, corpus linguistics, computational linguistics, and second language assessment. In particular, his research investigates lexicogrammatical development in second language users.  His work also involves the development of natural language processing tools that are used to test and build theories related to second language acquisition and second language writing development (usually using learner corpora).

Kris' Website

Doris Payne

Professor Doris Payne

Doris’ research has focused on morphology, syntax and semantics of little-studied languages, from typological, functional, and cognitive perspectives. One long-standing focus has been on word order, with a special attention to verb-initial languages and those where order of major constituents is primarily based on cognitive-pragmatic factors such as identifiability and contrastive focus. Principal language areas have included (but are not limited to) South America and East Africa. Ongoing language documentation projects include descriptive grammars and lexicography and text databases.

Doris' Website

Eric Pederson

Associate Professor Eric Pederson

Eric's research interests can be covered under the general concern for the relation of language and language processing to general cognition. He assumes that any particular linguistic patterns also potentially reflect patterns of thought beyond this language use. He is also strongly interested in multi-model representations (e.g. co-speech gesture and head movements). Because non-linguistic behavior and patterns of human cognition can vary cross-culturally, he has a strong commitment to cross-linguistic and cross-cultural investigation. Appropriately for this, he has expertise as a descriptive linguist as well. Much of his descriptive and experimental data has been collected first-hand in rural South India.

Eric's Website

Gabriela Perez Baez

Associate Professor Gabriela Pérez Báez

Gabriela’s research focuses on linguistic diversity and strategies to sustain it. She directed the Global Survey of Language Revitalization Efforts, the first effort to systematically document revitalization around the world for a comparative qualitative and quantitative study. Within the realm of language revitalization, Gabriela has worked extensively in the field of archives-based revitalization for languages after a period without speakers. In her native Mexico, Gabriela has worked to document, analyze and revitalize Zapotec languages and published on language vitality and revitalization, migration, and on the analysis of Zapotec languages covering verbal inflection and derivation, philology, semantic typology, and spatial language and cognition. She is the lead compiler of two dictionaries of Isthmus Zapotec within a participatory and interdisciplinary model. The La Ventosa Diidxazá Lexico-botanical Dictionary was published in 2019 with over 1000 specialized entries and multimedia assets. 

Gabriela's Website

Lisa Redford

Professor Melissa (Lisa) Redford

Lisa investigates spoken language production from a developmental perspective. Work in her lab focuses on how motor and language processes interact over developmental time to define the characteristic rhythms of spoken language. This work contributes to our understanding of the representations used in speech planning, how speech timing is achieved, and the phonetic bases of speech segmentation. The findings also provide normative data on prosodic development and help to identify articulatory and acoustic factors that contribute most to the perception of disorder.

Lisa's Website

Julie Sykes

Associate Professor Julie Sykes

Julie Sykes earned her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. She is the Director of CASLS and an Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics. Her research focuses on applied linguistics and second language acquisition with an emphasis on technological and pedagogical innovation for interlanguage pragmatic development and intercultural competence. She has taught courses on second language teaching and learning, methodology and research, language learning and technology, Hispanic linguistics, and interlanguage pragmatic development.Julie’s experience includes the design, implementation, and evaluation of online immersive spaces and the creation of place-based, augmented-reality mobile games to engage language learners in a variety of non-institutional contexts. She has published various articles on computer-assisted language learning (CALL)-related topics, including synchronous computer-mediated communication and pragmatic development, gaming and CALL, and lexical acquisition in digitally mediated environments. Julie is the recipient of the 2018 University of Oregon Research Award for Impact and Innovation.

Julie's Website