My research program centers on language creation, and how core properties of language that emerge during language creation shed light on the architecture of the mind. I characterize the language-like properties of the gesture communication systems (homesigns) invented by deaf children, adolescents, and adults who do not have access to conventional language input. Such studies reveal children’s contribution to language learning, and thereby enhance our understanding of typical language acquisition. My hybrid approach combines psycholinguistic methodology with an important fieldwork component in Nicaragua, in which I bring the laboratory to the participants. By studying language creation at the individual and community levels, I hope to uncover core properties of language, characterize the conventionalization of homesign systems that led to the emergence of Nicaraguan Sign Language, and identify the cognitive consequences of a lack of linguistic input.
Kristin is the lab manager and a research assistant in the Language Creation Lab. She received her B.A. in Psychology with minors in ASL/Deaf Studies and Neuroscience from the College of the Holy Cross in 2018. She is passionate about working with deaf and special needs communities. Specifically, she is interested in researching how language (or lack thereof) affects other cognitive abilities and aims to improve educational and diagnostic practices for deaf and special needs individuals. Her future plans are to go to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
Bryne-Marie Sidney is a Senior at UConn pursuing a double major in Speech, Language, and Hearing Science and Cognitive Science. Through her studies at UConn, she has become interested in the differences between the language acquisition of Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing children. Ultimately, Bryne hopes to attend a graduate program in Speech Pathology and to work with children in a hospital setting. She is working as an Undergraduate Lab Manager and Research Assistant with Dr. Marie Coppola on the SLAM project where she will be studying the impact of language experience on numerical and social cognition.
My primary research interest lies in specifying the human capacities for language, in part by determining how these capacities are exemplified in situations of language genesis and language change. I have done work looking at who drives the development of independent homesign gesture systems used by deaf adults in Nicaragua (homesigners), by examining the comprehension of those systems by homesigners’ family members and friends. Evidence thus far suggests that homesigners themselves make unique contributions to the development of their systems, and that many family members and friends do not fully share the system with the homesigner they know. I am currently examining the emergence of the use of space for argument structure in sign languages by studying this linguistic feature in the gesture productions of hearing non-signers, homesigners in Nicaragua, and users of Nicaraguan Sign Language. I am also a fiber enthusiast, and both knit and spin whenever I have the chance!
Marcy Dicker received her BA in Early Childhood/Special Education from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and her MS in Deaf Education from Gallaudet University. She spent the first half of her career as a Family Educator and, eventually the Program Director for a Birth to 3 Program in a non-profit agency, serving children who are deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind and their families. She then took a position with the State of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction an Administrator in 2003. There, she built and provided oversight for the state’s Outreach Program, supporting students ages birth to 21 who are deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind, their families and professionals and school districts serving those students. In 2016, she retired and moved to Connecticut, to be with her husband who had accepted a job at UConn. Marcy is thrilled to join the SLAM team because of her interest in the research that supports a deeper understanding of our students and best practices in Deaf Education.
Grace is a senior and a Speech, Language, and Hearing major with a minor in ASL Interpretation. She is currently working as a research assistant for Dr. Marie Coppola on the SLaM project exploring the acquisition of number words in Deaf, hard of hearing and hearing children. She wants to explore, more in-depth, how Deaf children acquire language and how that language affects the child’s development. In the future she plans to become a speech pathologist.
Elizabeth Roffe is a senior at UConn pursuing a major in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences (SLHS). She is seeking a minor in American Sign Language and Deaf Culture. Studying the impact of language experience on numerical and social cognition is the perfect way to immerse herself into the SLHS world. This research encompasses both her interests and her career aspirations. She aspires to become a Speech Pathologist with her own private practice where she will focus on helping kids with different speech and language disorders.
Cori Sylvain is a senior at UConn pursuing a major in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. She is passionate about working with children and understanding their process of language development. After graduating, Cori plans to continue her education to become a Speech Pathologist and would like to work in a hospital or public school setting. She is currently working as a Research Assistant on the SLaM project with Dr. Marie Coppola and is excited to be involved in the Language Creation Lab.
Samantha is a senior pursuing a major in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. She plans to attain a degree in Audiology after graduating. Samantha is working with Dr. Deanna Gagne on her Theory of Mind project and is very happy to be a Research Assistant in the Language Creation Lab.
Camilla is a senior at UConn pursuing a double major in Speech, Language, Hearing Sciences and ASL Studies. She has a strong interest in Deaf culture and American Sign Language and hopes to work with Deaf individuals in the future. After graduation, Camilla plans on continuing her education to become an audiologist and hopefully someday acquire a certification in interpreting. She is currently a Research Assistant for the SLaM project with Dr. Marie Coppola.
Jillian is a senior at UConn pursuing an individualized major in American Sign Language and Child Development. Jillian hopes to attend Boston University to earn a masters degree in Deaf Education
Emily is a junior pursuing a major in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and a minor in ASL Interpreting and Deaf Studies. She is currently working as a research assistant for Dr. Marie Coppola on the SLaM project. Outside of the lab, Emily is an instructional assistant for ASL 1101. Ultimately, Emily is planning to pursue a Speech Pathology degree and hopes to work either in a hospital or an elementary school.
Justin is a Junior at UConn pursuing a B.A. in Mathematics/Statistics with a minor in Psychology, and he is extremely excited to be working under Dr. Coppola this year! In the Language Creation Lab, he has responsibilities including coding, working with the presentation team, and doing analyses alongside Emily Carrigan on the analysis team. Justin hopes to continue researching the relationship between language and mathematical learning in the future, and plans to extend his research into the domain of remedial programs for mathematics-based learning disabilities.
Christina is a senior at UConn pursuing a major in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Spanish. She is very interested in how delayed language input affects a child’s development. After graduation, Christina plans on furthering her academic career by attending graduate school for Speech-Language Pathology, with a specific focus on bilingualism. One day she hopes to work with bilingual children in a school-based setting.
Caroline is a sophomore at UConn pursuing a double major in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and Cognitive Science. She is very excited to be working on the SLaM project as a research assistant for Dr. Coppola. Caroline is very interested in language acquisition and development, as well as other psychological aspects of human development. In the future, she hopes to get a degree in speech-language pathology and work with children either in her own private practice or in an elementary school setting.