Meet Our Grad Students

PhD Student

I am Brett C. Nelson and I received my Bachelor of Science in Linguistics from Tulane University (in my hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA) in 2016, followed by a Master of Arts in Linguistics from the same institution in 2017. As part of my undergraduate studies, I also delved into the fields of psychology and archaeology, completing a minor in the former.  After these, I came to the University of Calgary in 2017 to work with Dr. Darin Flynn.

I’m interested in most subfields of linguistics, and I have previously investigated multilingualism, morphosyntactic typology, and segmental phonological theory. Currently, my linguistic research involves second and third language acquisition of phonology, particularly in Kaqchikel, a Mayan language of Guatemala. As part of my work in Kaqchikel, I am also coordinating the creation and nurturing of a Kaqchikel Online Dictionary Project. I also work with the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana as a part of Kuhpani Yoyani Luhchi Yoroniku (KYLY) or ‘Tunica Language Working Group’, working to revitalize the formerly sleeping Tunica language, an isolate of the present-day south-central United States of America. Check out the review of a film entirely spoken in Kaqchikel my MA advisor Judith M. Maxwell and I wrote.

View my CV as a Google Doc, and visit my Academia page. The Kaqchikel Online Dictionary Project is available here, or check out the New Tunica Webonary page.

Adam Daniel

Adam Daniel

PhD Student

I am Adam Daniel, I’m originally from Georgia where I earned my BA (Hons) in Applied Linguistics from Georgia State University in 2011. Afterward, I spent 4 years teaching ESL in Japan. I arrived at the University of Calgary in 2015 and completed my MA, thesis title: Clipping as Morphology: Evidence from Japanese. 

My main research interests and focuses are: morphology, historical linguistics, phonology, Japanese, and Welsh. English is my native language, but I speak Japanese with advanced proficiency, and I have a moderate knowledge of Welsh. Other languages which I have some experience in are: German, French, Italian, Serbian, Mongolian, Cherokee, and Etruscan. Outside of linguistics, I enjoy a lot of around-the-home activities such as cooking, tv/movies, and reading (especially anything sci-fi or fantasy). I also enjoy travel, hiking, photography, and I am looking to get into tennis and/or rock climbing one of these days.

Dušan Nikolić

PhD Student

I am Dušan Nikolić, from Aleksinac, Serbia. I completed a BA and MA in English Language and Literature at the University of Niš, Serbia. Currently, I am doing a PhD in Linguistics under the supervision of Dr. Stephen Winters, a proven expert in the field of Phonetics and Phonology. As my academic and research areas are Phonetics and Phonology, Second Language Acquisition, and Sociolinguistics, I have structured my PhD project around the perception of intonation as a marker of foreign accent. The goal of the project is to explore the second language intonation system by investigating the perception of foreign accent. I have also been awarded with Eyes High International Scholarship and Dean’s Entrance Scholarship. I find that the UofC is the right place to complete the project as it offers not only great academic expertise and resources, but also professional organizations. This is why I am a member of the Phonetics Lab Team and the graduate student association “A Higher Clause”. Visit my website for more info.

Mahyar Nakhaei

PhD Student

I am Mahyar Nakhaei and I am very eager to study how pronouns are interpreted across languages and what factors affect their resolution by native speakers of each language. I have also done some research studies on how pronoun resolution might be different between pro-drop languages such as Persian and non-prodrop languages like English. Currently, as my Master’s thesis I am running a study to investigate how individual differences might affect the interpretation of pronouns within a language. I am also planning to study a very particular controversial cliticlike marker (-esh) in Persian from a new perspective in near future.

Kang Xu

Kang Xu

PhD Student

Ni hao! I am Kang Xu, a Ph.D. student in Linguistics. I completed my B.A. at Memorial University of Newfoundland and my M.A. at the University of Western Ontario. My supervisor is Dr. Elizabeth Ritter who is an expert on theoretical syntax. She is also very funny. 

My interest is a little divided. I am interested in theoretical syntax, dialects, and sociolinguistics. Currently, I am studying the Mandarin sentence-final Complementizer system and the two-words tone sandhi in Wuhan dialect. 

I’m the Secretary and also the CWPL editor of A Higher Clause. Linguistics aside, I like brisk walking (Marathon style, e.g. 30000 steps). I have a French Bichon whose name is Dot Dot (English translation: little little) and he is getting old.

Jesse Weir

PhD Student

I’m Jesse. I did a BA Honours in linguistics at the University of Calgary and an MA in linguistics at Simon Fraser University. I’m most interested in syntax, phonetics and psycholinguistics, especially from an experimental perspective. I’m currently pursuing my PhD here at the University of Calgary. I chose to return here because this is one of the few schools in Canada that does experimental syntactic research, and I really wanted to continue to work with Dr. Storoshenko. In my free time, I like to play bass guitar, go to concerts, hike, and spend time with my dogs.

Francisco Ongay González

PhD Student

My name is Francisco Ongay González and I am from Mexico. I am a student of the PhD program in Linguistics at the University of Calgary. I completed a BA in Languages at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico and a MA in Hispanic Linguistics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (the largest university in Latin America). My native language is Spanish and I also speak English and French. I have also studied Japanese, Esperanto, Italian and Mexican Sign Language. While I have some experience in language teaching and translation, my main interest is language structure and specifically syntax. In my past studies, I have explored some time expressions in Spanish both in their semantic and syntactic dimensions. Other than languages and linguistics, I like drama and I have even acted in semi-professional theater back in Mexico. I also like videogames, board games and nature.

Kody Tufts

MA Student

I am a third-year MA student of linguistics. In my research, I look forward to learning more about morphology, that part of our linguistic knowledge related to the internal structure of words, and their systematic variation in form and meaning. I am excited to continue research begun as an undergrad (at the University of Calgary) on the complex verbal morphology of the Dene language family. I look forward also, to continuing to learn about the role I can play as a linguist in supporting language revitalization efforts.  

I have previously completed a BA in political science at the University of Calgary (2010) with a minor in the Japanese language. After spending a year abroad as a language teacher in Japan and several years in the logistics industry, I decided to return to school to pursue my interest in language, completing a BA Honours in linguistics in 2020. 

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family (wife and young daughter), going for strolls in the great outdoors and all the usual things (music, reading, film etc.). I’ve also recently taken an interest in becoming less abysmal at cooking.

Shayne Shapkin

MA Student

I am Shayne Shapkin, a second year MA student. Somehow, despite having BAs in both Linguistics and History, my research focus isn’t historical linguistics. Instead, my interests lie in syntax and morphology, with particular focus on Swiss and Standard German, both of which I am fluent in. I also have varying proficiencies in French, Japanese, and Ancient Greek. For my Master’s thesis, I’m looking at the relationship between interactional speech and information structure in Swiss German.

In my spare time, I spend a lot of time outdoors (hiking, scrambling, snowshoeing, skiing), I play a lot of strategy games, and I drink far, far too much green tea. I also have the sacred duty of exercising two large German Shepherds.

Summer Abdalla

MA Student

Hi! My name is Summer Abdalla, and I am working towards my MA in Linguistics. I have always been intrigued by the concept of linguistic development, and that was further developed throughout the course of my BA, which eventually led me to the research world. My research interests include phonology, language acquisition, and the Arabic language. I will be exploring these topics under the supervision of Dr. Angeliki Athanasopoulou.

I also join the department as a Teaching Assistant, and the Lab Coordinator for the Developmental Psycholinguistics Lab of Dr. Dimitrios Skordos & Dr. Angeliki Athanasopoulou. I am an the VP Events for A Higher Clause. I also support the development of our website as and manage the social media sites.

Outside of school, I enjoy watching movies, chasing sunsets, and hanging out with friends and family.

I got to present at the 2020 LSA conference. Here I am in a parking lot outside the conference.


MA Student

<commence greeting speech act> Hi, I’m Quinn, and I’m a second year MA student. I have a BA Honours in linguistics with a minor in music (classical guitar), and an almost-minor in computer science. As anyone who knows me can attest, I have a hard time picking a favourite subfield of linguistics. For my master’s thesis, I’ll be looking into the semantics/philosophy of language side of things with my supervisor Dr. David Liebesman. I like thinking about what it means for something to mean something, and how meaning can be formally represented. Since one of my favourite parts of linguistics is working with speakers to gather data, I am also interested in semantic fieldwork methodologies. I also have passionate linguistic side-interests in historical linguistics and phonology.

I’m currently an RA for Dr. Elizabeth Ritter and Dr. Martina Wiltschko, where we’re looking at the interactional structure of pronouns across a variety of languages, as well as an RA for Dr. David Liebesman for a project concerning the nature of copredication and property ascription.

In my free time I like to do animation, illustration, and photography, and play classical guitar (all of which are always for fun, occasionally for money). I’m also into gaming, sewing, and cult films. I like to spend as much time as possible outside documenting and learning about local wildlife and plant life, and my obsession with plants has caused my house to be overrun with seedlings and soon-to-be seedlings I’m sprouting. I hope to one day germinate a plant capable of language.  

Cheryl Iwanchuk

MA Student

I’m Cheryl. I graduated from the University of Calgary with an Honours degree in Linguistics and a minor in speech language sciences, I also previously completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts from U of C.

My research interests are syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and first language acquisition. I’m taking a Masters of Arts in Linguistics.  I choose the University of Calgary because the linguistics community at the U of C is supportive and fosters future research and researchers.  I wanted to work with the faculty.  

My hobbies are vast and ever expanding, but right now I paint, knit, craft.  I like to go camping, paddle boarding, canoeing.  I have been trying to learn to play the drums for a while, but haven’t had the time.  I also really enjoy video games and board games with my friends.

“Give us a good IPA and we can read any language in this world”

Calgary Ling Grad Students