26 August 2015

Welcome to the new cohort!

We are so happy to introduce the new cohort of Linguistics graduate students at USC: Welcome, class of 2020!

Betül Erbaşı

Hi! My name is Betul (with a high front round vowel in Turkish). I am from Turkey and so far I have spent all of my life there. I had my BA in Foreign Language Education and MA in Linguistics, both from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.  My main linguistic interest lies in the interfaces of prosody with other parts of Language, especially syntax. To that end, my MA thesis focused on prosodic and morpho-syntactic structure (and their interaction) of a reduplication case in Turkish. I am also interested in other sub-fields of linguistics that relate to sound, such as phonology and phonetics. Actually, phonology and phonetics were what drew me into linguistics as a field in the first place, besides historical linguistics. So, I still love them all!
What do I love other than languages? Watching films is becoming more and more of a passion for me (which is why I think I made the right decision by coming to LA!). I also like walking, exercising (not professionally, though), listening to music. Lately, I do not know why but I have started liking cooking. In real life, I like combining the things I like doing. For example, I often exercise or even cook while watching films! For me, this brings more joy to these activities and saves time! This is the first time I will be living in a foreign country for such a long time and I am really curious what kind of experiences I will have. From what I have seen so far at USC and LA in general, it seems that wounderful times are awaiting me! Glad to be at USC and LA!

Tanner Sorensen

My name is Tanner Sorensen and I am from Omaha, Nebraska. I was an undergrad at the University of Nebraska from 2010 to 2013 before I did the MSc Linguistics at the University of Potsdam from 2013 to 2015. 
I am wrapping up three research projects right now. First, my thesis with Adamantios Gafos analyzed the primitive units of speech production as dynamical systems. I presented this work at the Second Workshop on Dynamical Modeling at the University of Cologne. A second project involved assessing the influence of two tongue movements on one another when they are produced in overlapping time intervals but with different functional segments of the tongue. This work was presented at the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences in Glasgow. Third, I did some work with Shravan Vasishth for the 2nd Bayesian Young Statisticians Meeting in Vienna which resulted in a tutorial on linear mixed effects models in the Bayesian setting. I'm looking forward to getting started at USC, learning some new things, and taking my work in some new directions. 

Yifan Yang

My name is Yifan Yang (I think I have to reverse the order of my names in order to indicate Yifan is my first name), and I believe my name is much easier for you to pronounce than other Chinese names. I was born in a small city in North China, and have got a Bachelor of Arts in Tianjin and an MA in linguistics in Shanghai (by the way, Tianjinese is quite famous for its complicated tone sandhi pattern, but I think I am a successful Tianjinese learner!). As for my field of study, I mainly focus on phonology, especially Chinese segmental phonology. Previously, I worked on a special phenomenon called ‘rime change’. This phenomenon exclusively exists on the boundary of Shanxi Plateau and North China Plain, which was my birthplace, and it has phonetic, phonological, morphological and even sociolinguistic significance. I am now quite excited about joining this program of linguistics. I hope I could move further on this topic and I am also looking forward to doing more research on other varieties of Chinese, including Mandarin. I used to be a violin player but have not played it for quite a long time (that is a pity). I also enjoy running. Hope I could finish a half marathon and then a full marathon in the future! Nice to meet you all!

Jesse Storbeck

Hello! I'm Jesse, originally of the western Philadelphia suburbs. I graduated from Yale University in 2011 with a double major in linguistics and classics. My focus as an undergrad was on the development of the ancient Indo-European languages, with particular attention to the morphological systems of Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit. After I graduated, I worked as an English teacher in Seoul, South Korea and later as a paralegal at a criminal defense law firm in New York City. After a few years outside of academia, I decided that I wanted to go back to school in linguistics and, in particular, that I wanted to work in a more experimental/quantitative subfield than Indo-European studies. I'm currently most interested in first language acquisition and psycholinguistics, with a focus on morphology and syntax. When I'm not working, I love being outdoors. I'm especially fond of hiking and road cycling. I'm working on becoming a better bicycle mechanic and considering participating in some amateur racing... if I can get myself in shape. In addition, I recently adopted a cat, so I spend a good bit of time hanging out with her. Her name is Lucinda (after the song by Tom Waits), and she is a six-year-old medium-haired tortoiseshell. I'm really excited to be joining a department as talented and welcoming as USC's!

Sarah Harper

My name is Sarah, and I grew up in southeastern Michigan (although I’m originally from New York, which is why I have weird diphthongs). I graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Linguistics and Spanish in 2014, and then spent a year working as an English teacher at an elementary school in northern Spain.
Research-wise, my focus is on phonetics and (laboratory) phonology. Right now I'm particularly interested in phonetic gradiency and variation, and in non-native speech production. My undergraduate honors thesis examined patterns of phonetic influence in third language acquisition through an acoustic study on voiced stop production by Portuguese learners; I'm currently working on a follow-up to that study that additionally looks at L3 effects on the L2. Outside of linguistics, I enjoy cooking and baking, singing, going for epically long walks and drinking lots and lots of coffee.