Currently, Alex is working on writing his dissertation. He recently began working on a project on ABSL with some pretty wonderful researchers. This is evolving into a project on language evolution and language change as it applies to observed instances of language genesis.  In particular, Alex is starting to explore what ABSL might tell us about the how linguistic structure (specifically phonological and morphological) is created and how it changes in time.

The main Crux of the dissertation work involves a computational simulation of the features involved in the establishment of a phonological system.  How is it that a group of proto-speakers moves from a wholistic (one sound-sequence to one meaning) system into one where a small set of smaller pieces (phonemes and syllables) are re-used and re-combined to form many different words?  If there was a wholistic stage, then how long might it have lasted?  What innovations had to take place in the brain or in the community of speakers before talkers began to pronounce words in ways that might be recognized as modern human language?

Alex really enjoys learning how people learn things particularly languages.  The more he learned about the various ways languages around the world do the things that languages do, the more interested he became in how the nervous system manages to learn all of these things.

He first became interested in how a brain which has already learned one linguistic system can manage to rearrange it (or build extra room) to express itself in a different linguistic system.  

Learning how babies learn language is another topic Alex plans to do research on in his future career.  He wants to study what cognitive abilities help boost a human's linguistic prowess, and possibly what cognitive deficits deflate it.

Alex has worked on several diverse projects, including a meta-analysis of existing studies which look at the amount that deaf readers exhibit phonological awareness or coding as well as whether these abilities aid their reading.  He wrote a paper on phonological patterns in compound words of American Sign Language, and is currently trying to get some of that work out the door before he forgets what it was that he spent his first 4 years of grauate school doing.  He also worked on a project which examined pitch measurement techniques by human and machine annotation.

In his free academic time Alex is also interested in learning about how we might use computers to help us answer some of his favorite research questions.  He tries to learn about:
1) how to design and implement models and
2) how to test theoretical hypothesis in those models
3) as well as in a laboratory setting using solid experimental methodology.  
Also, he is fascinated with the sociological components of language learning and language interaction.  When no one is looking, he reads about:
  • 1) what happens when languages cross political borders and clash,
2) how languages change with respect to socio-economic and cultural change,
3) how multi-linguistic nations manage to foster each tongue, and
4) what he can do to erase linguistic prejudice where ever it may lay.

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