Letter from the Chair

Submitted by Joyce Parvi on

The 2021-2022 academic year saw a return to in-person classes and an increase in the social life of the Linguistics Department and the UW campus. At the end of the year, we were very happy to host an in-person departmental graduation ceremony and celebration, with alumnus Brent Woo (see below) as our commencement speaker—the first in-person graduation since the spring of 2019. In the 2022 graduating class, 68 linguistics undergraduates received their BA degrees, 6 with departmental honors, 9 Phi Beta Kappa, 8 Cum Laude, and 1 Summa Cum Laude. In our graduate programs, 38 students received their MS in computational linguistics, and 4 passed their General Exam, a major step on the way to finishing a PhD. Six graduate students finished their PhD dissertations:  Anna Moroz (Summer 2021), Ajda Gokcen and Amandalynne Paullada (Autumn 2021), Ben Jones (Winter 2022), Rob Squizzero and Nathan Loggins (Spring 2022, see below). We wish them all the best in this new chapter of their lives and look forward to hearing about their academic and career achievements.

2021-22 was a busy year with many changes. We said goodbye to Administrator Monica Cohn and welcomed Shana Ava, who came to us with Administrator experience from the School of Pharmacy and the School of Social Work. The department underwent a ten-year review by two UW internal and two UW external faculty reviewers. It was an overall success and the department was able to highlight its achievements as well as areas in need of improvement. It was a bonding experience for the department, with participation from all stakeholders including students, staff, and faculty, and we are grateful to Sharon Hargus and Shane Steinert-Threlkeld who acted as the self-study committee.

Our faculty and students are the center of our department and they continue to demonstrate the high caliber of teaching, learning, and research. In September 2021, we welcomed a new assistant professor, Myriam Lapierre, who specializes in the documentation of two languages of the Brazilian Amazon, Panãra and Kawaiwete, and in the phonetics and phonology of nasals. Myriam is also now the department’s RA Coordinator, and has set up a new Linguistic Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program to encourage UG research training. In 2022 Alicia Beckford Wassink was named the Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professor of the Humanities (see below), and continues to serve on the Executive Committee of the Linguistic Society of America, the national organization of linguists in the U.S., continuing a UW tradition in leadership at the LSA. Emily Bender has been educating the public about Artificial Intelligence in a variety of venues (see below). Richard Wright was inducted as a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America in December 2021. Shane Steinert-Threlkeld co-taught (with Jakub Szymanik) a course on Learnability of Quantifiers at the prestigious North American Summer School for Logic, Language and Information.

Two graduate students received important awards. In 2022 Naomi Shapiro received a UW Graduate School Presidential Dissertation Fellowship in the Arts (see below).  In 2021, Kaveri Sheth received the Paula Menyuk Award at Boston University Conference on Language Development, as first author on a top-rated abstract.

As the 2022-2023 year approaches we look forward to welcoming our faculty, staff, and students back to campus for another exciting year.