Research Fellows

Postdoctoral Fellows

Andrew Back Doctor

Andrew Back

  • Title: Doctor
  • Program: Technology/Evolution
  • Institution: University of Queensland

Andrew has a background in machine learning algorithms and architectures, higher order statistics and signal processing. He has held positions with the Department of Defence, NEC Research Laboratories (USA), RIKEN (Japan) and founded a software company developing tools for computational finance. He has developed large scale computer models for high impact systems including a commercial model of the wholesale electricity prices across Australia. His particular current interests are in the development of probabilistic information theoretic entropic models, which can be used to analyse natural language, estimate learning time and predict analytical model performance.

Danielle Barth Doctor

Danielle Barth

  • Title: Doctor
  • Program: Shape/Learning
  • Institution: The Australian National University - on maternity leave 2017

Danielle Barth has completed her PhD at the University of Oregon where her research has investigated the interface between syntax, phonetics and information theory. In her research she uses empirical data drawn from corpora, experiments and descriptive fieldwork. At the Centre she'll be working on building a multilingual corpus built from data collected by multiple researchers on 12-15 languages from around the world. Her project will focus on finding, describing and comparing inter- and intra-language variation as it relates to the expression of social cognition, using descriptive and quantitative methodologies. She is also looking forward to returning to her fieldsite in Matukar, Papua New Guinea so that Matukar Panau, the language spoken there, can be added to the sample of languages for the social cognition typology project.

Rosey Billington Doctor

Rosey Billington

  • Title: Doctor
  • Program: Shape
  • Institution: The University of Melbourne

Rosey is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Melbourne. She is currently researching the phonetic and phonological patterns of South Efate, an Oceanic language of Vanuatu, together with CIs Fletcher and Nick Thieberger. As part of the Processing and Shape programs, this project focuses on the correlates of prosodic phenomena such as stress, and the ways that prosodic patterns interact with phonotactic and morphosyntactic structures. For her PhD research, Rosey worked on a phonetically-based description of the phonology of Lopit, an Eastern Nilotic language traditionally spoken in South Sudan. This project included phonetic investigations of vowel contrasts, glides and gemination, and tonal distinctions. Rosey also maintains an interest in the phonetic characteristics of English varieties spoken in Australia.

Lucy Davidson Doctor

Lucy Davidson

  • Title: Doctor
  • Program: Learning
  • Institution: University of Melbourne

Lucy is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Melbourne, whose primary interests lie in the development of language use by children, specifically Indigenous children in Australia. For her PhD (through the ARC funded project, Language Acquisition in Murrinhpatha (LAMP), based at the University of Melbourne), Lucy explored the linguistic and sociocultural understandings of children aged 3 to 7 who are learning the traditional Australian language, Murrinhpatha, as their first language. In her current position she continues to work with Murrinhpatha speakers at Wadeye, NT, with Dr Barbara Kelly and Prof Gillian Wigglesworth, on their project investigating children’s acquisition of narratives. Lucy is also conducting research with Pitjantjatjara speaking children in the remote community of Pipalyatjara, SA, the focus of which is children’s development of nominal case marking.

Rebecca Defina

Rebecca Defina

  • Program: Learning
  • Institution: The University of Melbourne

Rebecca joins the Centre from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen. For her PhD there, she investigated relationships between linguistic and conceptual event representations, with a particular focus on serial verb constructions in Avatime (a Kwa language spoken in Ghana). Her research incorporated a range of methods including linguistic description, gesture analysis, and behavioural experiments in order to study the relationships between language and thought within different ways of thinking.

She is now carrying out a longitudinal study of acquisition in Pitjantjatjara. For this project, she will be developing a corpus of naturalistic language use and narratives from children and their caregivers. She will also be continuing her work on event segmentation, looking at how Pitjantjatjara children learn to use complex predicates and how the alignment between syntactic, gestural, and conceptual event units develops.

Seamus Donnelly Doctor

Seamus Donnelly

  • Title: Doctor
  • Program: Processing
  • Institution: The Australian National Unviersity

Seamus received his PhD in Educational Psychology from the City University of New York in 2016. His dissertation research was a meta-analysis of studies comparing monolinguals and bilinguals on executive control tasks. He came to CoeDL to work under the supervision of Dr. Evan Kidd on the Canberra Longitudinal Child Language Project. His current research interests include usage-based approaches to the study of language acquisition and statistical methods for analyzing longitudinal and eye-tracking data.

Elizabeth Ellis ARC Discovery Indigenous Fellow

Elizabeth Ellis

  • Title: ARC Discovery Indigenous Fellow
  • Program: Shape
  • Institution: The Australian National University

Elizabeth Marrkilyi Ellis is a Ngaatjatjarra educator, interpreter and linguist from the Ngaanyatjarra region of Western Australia. Over recent years she has collaborated with Inge Kral on a research project documenting Western Desert speech styles and changing modes of communication across the generations.

Simon Gonzalez Ochoa Doctor

Simon Gonzalez Ochoa

  • Title: Doctor
  • Program: Evolution
  • Institution: The Australian National Unviersity

Simon’s research focuses on acoustic phonetics, empowered by computational tools. His experience is mainly on Australian English, after finishing his PhD in English Phonology (Australian English) at the University of Newcastle, and working as a Research Assistant at Griffith University analysing West Australian English (ARC-funded, led by Gerard Docherty). He develops computational tools (scripts and apps) for more efficient and practical analysis/visualisation of phonetic and phonological phenomena. Currently he is part of two projects at ANU: Sydney Speaks (CI Catherine Travis) and the Transcription Acceleration Project (CIs Nick Evans and Janet Wiles), both ARC-funded through CoEDL.

James Grama Doctor

James Grama

  • Title: Doctor
  • Program: Evolution
  • Institution: The Australian National University

James completed his PhD at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa where he focused largely on vocalic variation in English and English-based varieties. His work on California English, Hawaiʻi English, and Hawaiʻi Creole has investigated the ways in which phonetic variation is correlated with social factors and sound change over time. In his research, he uses quantitative acoustic measures along with rigorous statistical models to describe how changes in linguistic varieties have taken shape, especially in heterogeneous communities. At the Centre, he works as a member of the Sydney Speaks project where he hopes to investigate the acoustic features of a variety of features of Australian English in the diverse and changing Sydney community, especially as a function of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and network affiliation.

Anton Killin Doctor

Anton Killin

Anton completed his PhD in Philosophy at Victoria University of Wellington on music and philosophical naturalism, combining research topics in philosophy of music and evolution of music. His postdoctoral research at CoeDL focuses on the intersection of music and language, in particular the connections between evolution of music and evolution of language. In addition to these topics, Anton’s research interests include philosophy of biology and philosophy of the arts more broadly.

Jacki Liddle Doctor

Jacki Liddle

Jacki Liddle is a postdoctoral research fellow and occupational therapist researching quality of life, participation and life transitions. She uses innovative technology, along with qualitative and quantitative research methods to investigate the needs and experiences of people living with neurological conditions (Parkinson's disease, dementia, stroke), older people and their caregivers, and develop approaches to improve outcomes.

Her research has focussed on the experiences of life transitions related to ageing (for example, driving cessation of older people), illness, and related treatments (for example, deep brain stimulation). Developing technology to measure outcomes including quality of life, wellbeing, time use, and activity and role participation has led to new approaches of monitoring community life and impact of treatments. Researching the experiences related to retirement from driving for older people during her PhD led to the development of the UQDRIVE program, now called CarFreeMe for older drivers, people with dementia and people with traumatic brain injury. A telehealth trial of the the CarFreeMe program is currently underway.​

Jacki is currently working on the Florence Project with a focus on the lived experience of people living with dementia and their conversation partners, and how to facilitate a co-development approach to communication technology with people living with dementia.

Deborah Loakes Doctor

Deborah Loakes

Deborah (Debbie) is a phonetician at The University of Melbourne. She has been working on both Indigenous languages and Australian English, and has most recently carried out collaborative work on prosody in Mawng, and has also carried out postdoctoral research focusing on a sound change (a vowel merger) in Australian English. Debbie's postdoctoral project for the Centre of Excellence is a sociophonetic study of Aboriginal English, bringing together an analysis of speech production, speech perception, and social factors. Participants will be (English L1) Indigenous people from Warrnambool, where the vowel merger occurs in the Anglo-Celtic community. Debbie is particularly interested in whether this merger is present in production and perception for the minority Indigenous community. Ultimately the project will use fine-grained phonetic analyses to feed into a deeper understanding of language shape, processing and evolution (and their interaction).

Bruno Olsson Doctor

Bruno Olsson

  • Title: Doctor
  • Program: Evolution
  • Institution: The Australian National University

Bruno's postdoctoral research project focuses on the development and typology of Papuan languages, with special attention to the languages of the Anim family in Southern New Guinea. For his PhD at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Bruno carried out extensive documentation of Coastal Marind, an Anim language that displays a wealth of typologically interesting features, and his current work on related Anim languages aims to shed light on the processes that led to this language family being so different from other Papuan languages. Bruno is also planning to investigate the broader typological characteristics of Papuan languages, partly by using cross-linguistic databases.

Ronald J. Planer Doctor

Ronald J. Planer

Ronald J. Planer received his PhD in Philosophy, along with a Certificate in Cognitive Science, from Rutgers University, New Brunswick (USA). His doctoral research examined the theoretical role of informational concepts in molecular, developmental, and evolutionary biology. He is currently focused on a cluster of issues related to the evolution of language, among them: foundational models of communication, the pathways by which different types of communication systems emerge and how they interact with one another, the relevance of gesture and musical vocalization to the evolution of linguistic communication, and more. Ronald strongly prefers an interdisciplinary approach to the issues he works on, drawing upon ideas from archeology, anthropology, linguistics, psychology, neuroscience, and biology, in addition to philosophy.

Sonja Riesberg Doctor

Sonja Riesberg

  • Title: Doctor
  • Program: Shape
  • Institution: The Australian National University

Sonja Riesberg is a field linguist working on Austronesian (Western Malayo-Polynesian) and Papuan (Trans New-Guinea) languages. She is currently working on the documentation and description of Yali, a West Trans New-Guinea language, spoken in the highlands of West Papua. Sonja is also strongly involved in capacity building measures in Papua, especially at the Centre for Endangered Languages Documentation (CELD) in Manokwari.Sonja commenced in January 2017.

Luis Miguel Rojas-Berscia Doctor

Luis Miguel Rojas-Berscia

  • Title: Doctor
  • Program: Shape/Evolution
  • Institution: The University of Queensland

Luis commenced with the Centre at our UQ Node in mid-September 2018. Luis attained his PhD within the Language in Interaction Research Consortium (currently located at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, The Netherlands). His research was from two main axes: linguistic theory and grammatical description.

Rachel Sluis Doctor

Rachel Sluis

  • Title: Doctor
  • Program: Processing
  • Institution: The University of Queensland/Bond University

Rachel Sluis completed her PhD in clinical psychology at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. Her doctoral research examined the impact of executive functioning on cognitive maintaining features of social anxiety disorder, such as repetitive negative thinking. Rachel is a postdoctoral research fellow and psychologist working on the Florence Project with a focus on the development of communication technology to support conversational breakdown for people living with dementia and their carers.

Alba Tuninetti

Alba Tuninetti

  • Program: Processing
  • Institution: Western Sydney University

Alba is a postdoctoral research fellow working under A/Prof Paola Escudero on second language (L2) speech perception using behavioural and EEG methodologies. She received her bachelors' from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009, and went on to complete her Master's in 2012 at the University of Pittsburgh examining how nonnative English speakers processed syntactic violations using eye-tracking. She completed her PhD in 2015, investigating how similarity to the first language, training, feedback, and cue strength influence the neural and behavioral processing of nonnative phonemes. She received an Endeavour Research Fellowship from the Australian Department of Education to examine how the acoustics of the first language influence the perception of nonnative phonemes. She is also interested in bilingual speech and accent perception, investigating how the first language influences the L2 at the acoustic and phonological levels.

Research Associates

Inge Kral Doctor

Inge Kral

Inge is a linguistic anthropologist working with Jennifer Green and Jane Simpson on Elizabeth Ellis’ ARC Discovery Indigenous Award investigating Western Desert speech styles and verbal arts in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands region of Western Australia. Co-affiliated with the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR-ANU) Inge draws on some thirty years experience in Indigenous education, language and literacy in remote Australia. As an ethnographer of language and literacy her research interests include literacy as social practice; adolescent language socialisation; out-of-school learning; and youth, digital media and new literacies. She recently completed an ARC DECRA researching changing modes of communication and the socio-cultural and linguistic consequences of digital technologies in remote Indigenous Australia. Current projects include ‘Getting in Touch: Language and digital inclusion in Australian Indigenous communities’ and a youth media and literacy project in an Orang Asli indigenous village in Peninsular Malaysia.

Doug Marmion Doctor

Doug Marmion

  • Title: Doctor
  • Program: Shape
  • Institution: AIATSIS

Originally from Perth, Doug worked as a teacher at Yirara College (a residential school for secondary age Aboriginal children from remote communities) in Alice Springs, followed by three years as Adult Educator for the community of Walungurru (also known as Kintyre) 400 kms west of Alice Springs. While in Central Australia he began learning the Western Desert Language and studying linguistics, which eventually led to him taking up the position of Senior Linguist at the Yamaji Language Centre in Geraldton, Western Australia. In this position he worked with speakers of various languages of the Murchison-Gascoyne region (including Wajarri, Badimaya, Nhanda, Malgana, Warriyangka, Ngarlawangka and Wanmala) to document those languages from the remaining speakers and develop strategies for their maintenance and revival.

Following this Doug completed a PhD in linguistics at the Australian National University with a description of Wutung, a complex, tonal Papuan language and member of the Skou language family, spoken on the north-west coast of Papua New Guinea.

Doug joined AIATSIS in 2010 as the Linguistics Research Fellow. Doug’s primary research interests are across the areas of Indigenous language description, documentation and revitalisation in Australia. He is presently working with the Ngunawal community of Canberra on the revival of their language and has continuing interests in the documentation of the Western Australian languages Ngajumaya, and Wajarri, and the historical linguistics of the Kartu subgroup of languages.

Doug was co-author of both the first (2005) and second (2014) National Indigenous Language Surveys and is one of the lead authors of the Curriculum Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages.

Doug’s work for the Centre of Excellence is focused on the AIATSIS archives and drawing on language materials held there to construct corpora of Australian languages.

David Wilkins Doctor

David Wilkins

David Wilkins is an anthropological linguist who explores the relationship between language use, culture and cognition. His publications range across lexical semantics, pragmatics, semantic change, gesture, aphasia and augmentative and alternative communication. He has done fieldwork in central Australia and Far North Queensland. In the area of documentary and descriptive linguistics, he is currently working to show how and why the current model of grammar, dictionary and texts needs to be complemented by a grammar of language use, an ethno-thesaurus, an ethnography of speaking and an account of a community's paralinguistic repertoire and the interface of language with other culturally available semiotic systems.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University