Ellen Lau

I’m an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Maryland and Co-Director of the KIT-Maryland MEG Lab. I also serve on the faculty of the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program and the Maryland Language Science Center–home to one of the largest and most vibrant groups of language scientists in the world! My research aims to┬álink what linguists know about language to what psychologists know about real-time comprehension to what neuroscientists know about the brain, with the goal of developing better models of language processing, representation, and the underlying neural implementation.

My work spans a number of topics but right now I’m especially interested in two problems: (1) how does the brain carry forward structured, relational information across time and (2) how do comprehenders incrementally compute interpretive relations like argument structure and coreference.

Like many scientists I strongly believe in the value of basic research but I also find it satisfying to devote some amount of my time to trying to make the bridge to real-world problems. Right now my real-world problem of choice is the fact that most people who learn a second language as an adult struggle to achieve native-like comprehension in real-world situations. While this isn’t the primary focus of my research and I am by no means an expert in the area, I have enjoyed collaborating with researchers in the Second Language Acquisition program at UMD to bring our joint expertise to bear on this problem.

PhD students interested in working with me can apply through the Linguistics PhD program or the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NACS) PhD program. **Note that the NACS program often has an unusually early application deadline.