Dr. Kensy Cooperrider
I am interested in the interplay of language, body, and culture in human cognition and communication. Co-speech gestures are my window of choice into this interplay. In previous work I have focused on: 1) how gestures and spoken language are co-organized at different levels of analysis, from the micro-level of the single word to the macro-level of discourse structure; and 2) what gestures can tell about culturally variable and universal aspects of conceptualization, both in concrete domains like space and in abstract domains like time. A new line of work examines the role of gesture in reasoning and learning. Is gesture an engine of conceptual change and, if so, by what mechanisms?
Dr. Rebecca Frausel
My research is about the role of the early home environment, specifically parental language input, on children’s later educational outcomes. I study how parents and children vary in their use of decontextualized speech (especially narrative and pretend speech), and how these individual differences could have large downstream impacts on children’s later ability to create narratives and use academic language. I am also interested in how parents and children use higher-order thinking across different discourse modes.
Dr. Alyssa Kersey
The goals of my research are to understand how children acquire basic numerical concepts in early childhood and how they build on that knowledge to learn new mathematical concepts. I am specifically interested in the role of gesture in mathematical and conceptual learning. Gesture helps children learn new concepts and generalize those concepts more broadly, but it is not clear why gesture facilitates learning. By measuring the neural activity of children who learn math concepts with and without gesture, we hope to better understand how gesture promotes learning and how the developing brain supports the acquisition of math concepts.
Dr. Ryan Lepic
I am a linguist interested in how languages change as a result of how they are used. A fascinating property of human language is that our utterances are often highly formulaic and highly creative at the exact same time: We routinely stretch and repurpose old words and phrases to make something new. In this context, my research deals with words, and the emergence, organization, and extension of patterns among them, in spoken as well as signed languages. By examining the close bond between speech and gesture, I hope to better understand both the similarities and the differences between speech(+gesture) and sign.