I graduated from the University of Delaware with a PhD in Linguistics in 2010. My dissertation proposed a particular abstract representation of consonants that are partly nasal (“partially-nasal stops”) to account for their behaviour in the world’s languages. Some of the crucial data came from my phonetic field-work in the Province of Jambi in Sumatra, Indonesia on the local dialects of Malay.
After my dissertation, my research has been animated by a need to go beyond traditional techniques, which often do not allow us to distinguish between multiple, reasonable, competing hypotheses about the underlying system. Furthermore, I wanted to develop clear linking hypotheses between the knowledge of the abstract speech patterns that a person has when they know a language (or phonological knowledge) and the use of the knowledge as observed in the phonetics (be it speech perception or speech production). Consequently, I moved to formal experimental research in the vein of what is called Laboratory Phonology in the field. The grander hope I have is that by building clear bridges between phonological knowledge and phonetics, we will be able to restrict the hypothesis space for both phonological and phonetic theories and thereby achieve further clarity in our understanding of the two domains. However, the aim of developing clear linking hypotheses between speakers’ linguistic knowledge and its use is confounded by multiple interacting cognitive factors; therefore, I have adopted a variety of experimental techniques and probed a variety of languages in an attempt to triangulate to reasonable answers to the question.