I spent most of my childhood in Stillwater, Minnesota, playing football and running around in the woods. So given that I've ended up here, that's quite a change. How did it happen, you ask? Well, just before I started high school, my family moved to the Chicago suburbs. I had no friends, initially, so I spent a lot of time on my school work and watched the Cubs. My good study habits stuck with me, and I finished an undergraduate degree in mathematics at the University of Illinois with high departmental honors. That was the first stop on my tour of Big Ten schools.
I started the Ph.D. program in mathematics at the University of Wisconsin. My math career ended soon after, when I took my first class in linguistics from Kyle Johnson. I found the study of language to be irresistable. After redirecting my studies and getting a masters' degree from Wisconsin, I entered the Ph.D. program in linguistics at Northwestern University. After that, I worked as a post-doc in the Speech Research Laboratory in the psychology department at Indiana University. From there, I took a visiting assistant professorship in the linguistics department at the University of Michigan. If you've been keeping count, that's five big ten schools. Looks like I'll never make it to the other six, though...
While I was working at Michigan, my wife Kat started a new career as well, working for the Florida Marine Research Institute in St. Petersburg as a research assistant. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be able to join the department of communication sciences and disorders at USF not too much later. The fact that Kat and I were both able to find our dream jobs in the same place is just too good to be true!
My research covers a number of areas, primarily concerning the mental lexicon (the mental dictionary of words that the speaker of a language knows). In particular, I am interested in the organization and processing of words in the lexicon. Unfortunately (for the state of the science, but fortunately for me since I'd like to do this for the rest of my life), not a lot is known about the lexicon. So a lot of my work has also been exploring how the lexicon is organized (particularly for multisyllabic words), how words are processed in speech perception and speech production (by both "normal" adults and special populations), and what the representations of words are anyway (for example, are spoken words made up of chunks of sound like the letters of a written word? If so, what are those chunks and how are they organized?). I approach the study of the lexicon using language data, behavioral experiments, computer simulation, and mathematical modeling. This work covers a variety of disciplines in cognitive science: phonology, speech science (aka phonetics), computational linguistics, and psycholinguistics.