The ILLC NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates Site Program

We select undergraduate students residing in the New York area and match them with faculty mentors across several New York City college campuses to gain research experience in various language-science fields (theoretical linguistics, first- and second-language acquisition, sentence processing, and bilingualism; speech, language and communication sciences, and developmental/acquired language disorders; signed and understudied languages; and others). The program benefits from the tremendous ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity of Brooklyn and Queens, and our eight mentors offer state-of-the-art research facilities, such as the LIU Downtown Brooklyn Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, the Brooklyn College Linguistics Laboratory, the CUNY Graduate Center’s Developmental Neurolinguistics Laboratory, the Endangered Language Alliance, the Haskins Laboratories, and the YVY Research Institute (located in a Head Start program that serves 3,000 children who speak 15 languages).

We are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and we aim to recruit a substantial amount of students from historically disadvantaged groups, such as minorities, veterans, students experiencing financial hardship, and others. Two cohorts of 14 students each partake in the part-time, year-long research program, a program that also provides workshops to help them prepare for the next step in their educational journeys. Our selected students are awarded a generous stipend of $6,500 for the year, for 6-8 hours a week in the fall and spring semesters, and 15-18 hours a week in the summer. For more information about applying and eligibility, click here.

Our Motivation and Mission Statement

Our aim is to serve two purposes: The first is to involve undergraduates in research projects that can be expected to contribute publishable results and novel data sets that will be made available to the field through open-access websites. The second is to simultaneously encourage and prepare minority students to undertake graduate work on diverse languages and cultures. In our experience, it is not uncommon for students to reach the graduate level with limited understanding of foundations like research-question scope, and further, historically disadvantaged students can be more likely to find themselves in such a situation.

Our program has both scientific and societal benefits, in that it integrates research and education. Furthermore, we aim to fill a gap in the language-sciences fields: Even though the general goal of work in the language sciences is to provide universal explanations for language phenomena, the bulk of research—despite growing awareness of the need for diversity—is still conducted on English and other majority languages. This is problematic for two reasons: First, findings are not representative of the increasingly diverse U.S. population, and second, neither are researchers, clinicians and educators. In addition to recruiting minority students, we are also focused on recruiting students who know lesser-studied languages, spoken and signed, and non-mainstream varieties of English. We aim to show students who are heritage speakers of non-English languages—or native speakers of socially under-valued English dialects—how to expand and exploit these valuable resources to help construct their careers.


  • We are primarily housed at both the Long Island University (LIU) Downtown Brooklyn campus, and the City University of New York (CUNY) Brooklyn College campus
  • Read our NSF abstract here
  • Visit our LIU Webpage here
  • Meet our directors here