Research & Application

Language is one of our most basic human characteristics—using language is something we all do, all the time, every day. But there isn’t just one linguistic code that we use. Rather, language is a nuanced, complex social tool, naturally evolving over time and changing for different circumstances. Research on the English language across various segments of society finds that the ways people use language reflects their cultures and identities, and can also indicate social boundaries and social divisions.

The overarching theme central to all aspects of my work is my commitment to applying interdisciplinary knowledge to address social inequalities, advance cultural and linguistic equity, diversity, and inclusion, and broaden access and participation at all levels of education.

My research touches on three main themes:

  • the centrality of language in educational opportunity as well as educational inequality,
  • the importance of ethical principles and methodological innovation in the study of language in its social context,
  • the significance of language to social justice, from theory to action.


I am the co-author, with Dr. Anne H. Charity Hudley of Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools (2011) and We Do Language: English Language Variation in the Secondary English Classroom (2014). Anne and I also deliver a professional development series, “Language in the Classroom,” that brings researchers and educators together to explore language, culture, and education in classrooms and schools.

I am the current Chair of the Linguistic Society of America Ethics committee; in this capacity, I spearheaded a two-year process to comprehensively revise the LSA ethics statement, approved July 2019. With Anne H. Charity Hudley, I am also the co-lead-author of the LSA’s inaugural Statement on Race, approved May 2019, with a related special issue of papers on racial justice and anti-racism in linguistics forthcoming in the flagship journal Language in December 2020.

I am also the co-editor of Data Collection in Sociolinguistics: Methods and Applications, with Drs. Becky Childs and Gerard Van Herk (second edition, 2018, Routledge) and the co-editor of Rural Voices: Language, Identity, and Social Change across Place, featuring contributions by authors across the fields of linguistics, sociology, and anthropology (2018, Lexington Books).

I have received funding from non-profits as well as federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, for which I have served extensively as a proposal and panel reviewer across multiple programs.

View my academic CV for a complete list of my research and professional activities.