Jane Lutken

I'm currently working as a PhD student in Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins University. My areas of interest include language acquisition and theoretical syntax. I am currently conducting experimental research into children's acquisition of complex questions as well as theoretical research in cross-linguistic variation in wh-question formation including long distance wh-movement, scope marking, and copy constructions. My experimental work is conducted in the Language Acquisition Lab.

A bit about me... 

 As a young child, I wished I spoke another language and started studying French as soon as it was possible.  At Whitman College, I studied English Literature and was fortunate enough to study abroad at the University of Nantes. After graduation, I was recommended by Fulbright to receive funding to teach English in France from the TAPIF program. There, I thought I'd found my calling: teaching English as a second language, but I thought "how much better I'd be at this if I knew more about language acquisition!" With that in mind, I started an MA program at Newcastle University... where I discovered that language acquisition, particularly of syntax, would be what kept me up at night. That is what I currently spend my time thinking about... even when I'm not working... 

My most recent work took me to Konstanz, Germany where I worked in the BabySpeechLab. With the assistance of Professor Dr. Bettina Braun and members of the BabySpeechLab, I am investigating German children's production and comprehension of complex questions. This work will be presented as a major part of my doctoral dissertation. This work is generously supported by the National Science Foundation through a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant. 

I have also been involved in an exciting project developing an App to assist people who have difficulty communicating. To learn more, visit the app's website. The goal is to provide people with a way to communicate their thoughts and feelings when words fail them. Our hope is that this will aid anyone who has a speech deficit. The project is a personal one conceived and powered by friends of my family whose daughter would benefit greatly from such a tool. It has additional import for me because  my grandmother developed Broca's Aphasia. While this app would not be able to solve either of these problems, it is certainly a step in the right direction and I'm proud to have been a part of it.  


When I'm not studying, I enjoy exploring Baltimore (not only for the excellent studying holes), singing (in and out of choir...) and attending as many plays as possible. I also have a newfound love for swing dancing and lindyhop and highly recommend all graduate students find similar ways to meet non-academics, listen to fabulous music, and get exercise!  

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