The Georgetown Linguistics Faculty, Fall 2018

Alison Biggs

Assistant Teaching Professor

Interests: Syntax, syntax-semantics interface, morphology, comparative syntax, syntactic variation and change, dialect syntax, Mandarin and varieties of Chinese, understudied languages

Dr. Biggs’ website

Lara Bryfonski

Assistant Professor

Interests: Second language acquisition, task-based language teaching, interaction and corrective feedback, language learning in study abroad, teacher training

Dr. Bryfonski’s website

Marissa Fond

Assistant Teaching Professor

Interests: Discourse analysis; management of knowledge, beliefs, and emotions in language and interaction; metaphor and frame analysis; research interviewing and other qualitative research methods.

Cynthia Gordon

Associate Professor

Vice-Chair, Department of Linguistics
Director, Sociolinguistics Concentration
Interests: Discourse analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, theories of framing and intertextuality, linguistic construction of relationships and identities, digital/online discourse.

Heidi E. Hamilton


Interests: Discourse analysis, intertextuality, institutional discourse, health discourse, language and Alzheimer’s disease

Dr. Hamilton’s website

Alexandra Johnston

Assistant Teaching Professor

Director, M.A. in Language and Communication

Interests: Discourse analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, intercultural (mis)communication, gender and workplace discourse, gatekeeping encounters, using applied sociolinguistics in career paths in business, government, academia

Ruth T. Kramer

Associate Professor

Co-Head, Theoretical Linguistics Concentration

Interests: Syntax, morphology, Amharic, Ancient Egyptian, gender, number, agreement, clitics, Distributed Morphology, minimalism

Dr. Kramer’s website

David Lightfoot


Director, Communication, Culture & Technology Program
Co-director, Interdisciplinary PhD-Level in Cognitive Science

Interests: Syntactic variation, diachronic change, childhood acquisition, role of linguistics in the brain and cognitive sciences

Dr. Lightfoot’s website

Sue Lorenson

Adjunct Lecturer

Senior Associate Dean, Georgetown College

Interests: Phonology, language processing, linguistics and reading, language and the brain

Alison Mackey


Director of Graduate Studies

Interests: Second Language Acquisition: input, interaction, corrective feedback and individual differences in L2 learning, research methodology, quantitative and qualitative approaches, second dialect acquisition and linguistic identity construction

Dr. Mackey’s website

Margaret Malone

Research Professor

Director, AELRC

Interests: Language assessment, assessment literacy, study abroad, program evaluation and the current state of graduate programs in applied linguistics

Matthew Marge

Adjunct Professor

Interests: Dialogue systems, computational linguistics/natural language processing, human-robot interaction, machine learning, pragmatics

Liz Merkhofer

Adjunct Professor

Interests: Neural models/deep learning, especially representation and transfer learning; evaluation; computational linguistics/natural language processing

Jennifer Nycz

Associate Professor

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Interests: Phonological variation, sociolinguistics, (socio)phonetics, phonological theory, dialect contact, change over the lifespan, vowel systems, accommodation & style-shifting, individual differences in language variation, research methods in phonetics

Dr. Nycz’s website

Lourdes Ortega


Director, Applied Linguistics Concentration
Convener, Initiative for Multilingual Studies

Interests: Second language acquisition, usage-based linguistics, bi/multilingualism, interfaces between L2 writing and L2 development, systematic research synthesis, epistemology and ethics in applied linguistics.

Dr. Ortega’s website

Paul Portner


Co-Head, Theoretical Linguistics Concentration

Interests: Semantics, pragmatics, logic, philosophy of language, modality, mood, imperatives, corpus linguistics

Dr. Portner’s website

Achim Ruopp

Adjunct Professor

Interests: Machine translation, corpora, domain adaptation, human-computer interaction in translation and interpretation, deep learning, natural language processing

Achim’s website

Hannah Sande

Assistant Professor

Interests: Phonology, Morphology, The phonology/morphology interface, tone, language documentation, Kru and other African languages

Dr. Sande’s website

Natalie Schilling


Interests: Language variation and change, stylistic variation, sociolinguistic field methods, forensic linguistics

Nathan Schneider

Assistant Professor

Interests: computational linguistics/natural language processing; lexical semantics; form-meaning interface; adpositions and case; cognitive linguistics; corpus annotation; machine learning; English, Hebrew, Arabic

Dr. Schneider’s website

Brahmachari Sharan

Adjunct Lecturer

Interests: Sanskrit philology, Indology, exegesis in Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism, ancient Indian intellectual systems, Braj Bhasha and other pre-modern Indian languages and their diasporic transmission

Dr. Sharan’s website

Nicholas Subtirelu

Assistant Professor

Interests: Educational linguistics, ideology, critical discourse analysis, social justice, globalization, and the spread of English(es)

Dr. Subtirelu’s website

Deborah Tannen

University Professor

Interests: Discourse analysis; analyzing everyday conversation, including conversations over social media; family interaction; cross-cultural communication; language and gender

Dr. Tannen’s website

Amir Zeldes

Associate Professor

Director, Computational Linguistics Concentration

Interests: corpus linguistics, syntax-semantics interface, usage-based grammar, discourse relations, multifactorial methods, natural language processing, digital humanities

Dr. Zeldes’ website

Elizabeth Zsiga


Department Chair

Interests: Phonology, phonetics, and their interface, especially Articulatory Phonology, L2 phonology, Laboratory Phonology, and tone. Languages researched include Setswana, Serbian, Korean, Thai, Russian, Igbo, English

Dr. Zsiga’s website

An Explanation of Academic Titles in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown:

The rank of University Professor is bestowed by the President in recognition of extraordinary achievement by faculty members holding the rank of professor with tenure whose scholarly accomplishments have earned them substantial recognition from their academic peers. There are currently six who hold this rank in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Tenure Line Faculty are all full-time appointments: Assistant Professor (without tenure, most junior), and the two permanent appointments: Associate Professor (tenured) and (Full) Professor (tenured, most senior level)*

Non-Tenure Line Faculty are all fixed term appointments, meaning without tenure, and may be part time or full time. Listed in order of increasing seniority, non-tenure-line faculty may be appointed as Assistant, Associate or (Full) Research Professor, or as Assistant, Associate or (Full) Teaching Professor.

Adjunct Lecturer: Appointed to teach one or more courses, semester-by-semester.

*Students are encouraged to take advantage of the expertise of all our faculty, but Ph.D. students should be aware that only tenure line faculty are eligible to direct dissertations.

Affiliated Faculty

Emeritus Faculty