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.
Testimonials from our 2017-2018 cohort
“As a minority in a field that is predominately white, this program was a great experience for building a sense of belonging to the academic research community at large. Overall, I have definitely been able to improve my research skills, and build my confidence in being an emerging scholar. From this program, I have solidified my aspirations to complete my masters in SLP and then pursue a PhD.” -Anonymous
“The Intersection of Linguistics, Language and Culture program marked a before-and-after in my academic journey. Whereas I knew my heart I wanted to pursue Linguistics at the graduate level, this program allowed me to explore and learn about the technology I hope to be implementing in my future project. Not only that, I also feel more empowered and confident in transitioning into graduate school; the hands-on experience of working in a laboratory will certainly ease the transition into graduate studies. The program also allowed me to further explore aspects of my mother tongue in ways that I had not considered before. ” -Daniela Castillo
“I enjoy having this research experience while being an undergraduate student at CUNY Brooklyn College. Not many students have the opportunity to deepen their academic knowledge about their native language. This program has brought me into a stage where I could publicly and proudly introduce my mother tongue without awkwardness, and I had never considered researching it. I thank the Program for granting me this opportunity to deepen my academic knowledge of Cantonese… What the NSF-REU Site also provided for me is not success and accomplishments as an individual researcher, it’s also how about the teamwork experience, and the unique relationship with our research partner(s) and mentor. These are people that we probably would not have a chance to talk to after class… I think that has been unforgettable for me and it certainly increases my confidence in public speaking skills.” -Sarah Feng
“I remember mentioning in my interview that I felt this program could be the ‘foot in the door’ to my career and future, and it has been all of that and so much more.” -Harmony Graziano
“This was a whole new experience for me! I really appreciate the opportunity to be in this program where I have researched and acquired experience with bilingualism… I also really appreciate the opportunity to do something new in the realm of Speech-Language and Communication… I have definitely learned a lot and I am looking forward for continuing to do so! Thanks again!” -Elyanna Moskowitz
“This program is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to prove to yourself that you can be very professional and learn from something you are doing in a professional setting that is outside of school. I am very happy that I had the opportunity to be a part of this amazing group. I’ve made friends here that have helped me through my research and have helped me become more confident in myself and my research. You really won’t regret doing this after all the hard work you put into it because you’ll see the results, and no one can take that away from you. With this program I learned a lot about myself, my peers, my research, and life.” -Daniella Shimoonov
- 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 (SMA Grant # 1659607)
- Visit our LIU Webpage here
- Meet our directors here