Lab Director

DIANE BRENTARI Ph.D, University of Chicago, 1990

Professor Brentari’s current research interests are in the areas of phonology, morphology, and sign languages, particularly as they relate to issues of typology, language emergence and prosody. She has also developed a model of phonological structure of sign, called the Prosodic Model, and she has also worked on the architecture of the sign language lexicon. Her teaching responsibilities include general linguistics and phonology, as well as courses on sign language linguistics. She previously taught at Purdue University, the University of California at Davis, and Gallaudet University.

She is currently collaborating with researchers working on the sign languages of Europe and Asia to address questions concerning sign language structure cross-linguistically, as well as the relationship between gesture, homesign systems and sign languages.

cv (updated 01/2019)

Research Affiliates


Dr. Terra Edwards is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at St. Louis University. She is collaborating with Brentari’s lab on the NSF grant “What You See Is What you Feel: Sign Language Phonology in a ProTactile World”. (BCS-1651100).



Dr. Marie Coppola is an Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut in the Departments of Psychologyand Linguistics. She is collaborating with Brentari’s lab on the NSF grant “A typological analysis of handshape: Gesture, homesign, and sign language.” (BCS-1227908.) 


Current Graduate Students


Emre is a graduate student in the Department of Linguistics. He received his M.A. in Linguistics from Bogazici University where his research was focused on sentential embedding, imperatives, intonation and constructed action in Turkish Sign Language.



Aurora is a graduate student in the Department of Linguistics. She is currently working on research examining phonological complexity in sign languages cross-linguistically. In the sign language lab, she also works on a project on automatic fingerspelling recognition.



Kat is a graduate student in the Department of Linguistics. Her interests center on both internal and external motivations for language change through the lens of sign languages and homesign. Some current projects include longitudinal study of handshape stability as well as grammaticalization of person and agreement Nicaraguan Sign Language.  In the Sign Language Linguistics Lab she works on the Typology Project.

Current Research Assistants


Julia is a Research Assistant at the Sign Language Linguistics Laboratory. Julia graduated from Hampshire College in May, 2014 where she wrote a BA thesis on digital memory in signers. Julia is interested in how sign language informs and expands our current understanding of cognitive development and cognition as a whole.


Current Undergraduate Research Assistants


Zack is a second year Linguistics and Computer Science major. In the Sign Language Lab he is working with EmreHakgüder on examining instrumentals cross-linguistically. He is also working on the ASLR project run by the Chicago Language Modeling Lab.



Eli is a fourth year linguistic major in the College. In the Sign Language Lab, Eli has worked on ASL, CSL, CTSL, and NSL.They are also working on an honors thesis comparing the phonological systems of CTSL and NSL.



Natalie is a third year Comparative Human Development major in the College. She is interested in American Sign Language and human rights studies.
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