I am from what was once a very small country town in the piney woods of east Texas, where I cultivated a strong love of plants, people, and the night sky. In 2007 my Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics was conferred from the University of Texas, but I stayed on for another 2 years as a post-baccalaureate research assistant and continued to study languages and linguistics. I became involved in a research project on the Dynamics of Hunter-Gatherer Language Change with Dr. Patience Epps, who encouraged me to apply for graduate study. In 2010, I was accepted to the linguistics program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where I continued to cultivate my knowledge and skills.

In 2014-15, I took a break from my PhD studies to complete the first ever Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship to Timor-Leste. I spent that year working on various projects for the Ministry of Education, especially cooperative projects with the National Commission for UNESCO where I discovered my unlikely love for Monitoring and Evaluation (NGO-speak for “collecting and organizing data”).

I relocated in early 2017 to Canberra, Australia, where I completed my PhD on Attitudes toward Tetun Dili, a Language of East Timor. The time I spent in Canberra was the most restorative of my life. Three years passed in a flash of days full of bushwalks, creating, learning, and late nights of music, laughter, and friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better place and better people to help me transition into my early academic career. The Australian National University, the University of Sydney, and the University of Melbourne were all kind enough to employ me for various odd jobs, as well as Oxfam Australia

Moments before COVID-19 halted the world, I moved to Essen, Germany with my partner, James Grama, where we are adjusting to our new roles as co-investigators in a longitudinal language acquisition project (see Fig. 1 below). Like Canberra, Essen has a specific charm. I am now happily working part-time as a member of Prof. Dr. Isabelle Buchstaller’s Sociolinguistic Lab at the Universität Duisburg-Essen, where I hope to contribute for many years to come.


Fig. 1 Language Acquisition Project Participant