Staff biographies

Nick Evans, Project Lead

Nicholas (Nick) Evans has carried out wide-ranging fieldwork traditional languages of northern Australia and southern Papua New Guinea. The driving interest of his work is the interplay between documenting and describing the incredible diversity contained in the world's endangered languages and the many scientific and humanistic questions they can help us answer.  Read more

Mark Ellison, Postdoctoral Researcher

Mark Ellison studied Pure Mathematics at the University of Sydney, but even then was interested in language change and reconstruction. At the University of Western Australia, this interest evolved into a PhD on machine learning and phonology. The focus on phonology lead to 3 years research work in Computational Phonology at the University of Edinburgh, and subsequent lecturing in Cognitive Science there. Mark left academia in 1998 to learn Polish and work in IT. Recently at the University of Western Australia, he's been using Experiment Semiotics to model language origins, but is now excited to join this project at ANU.  Read more

Murray Garde, Postdoctoral Researcher

Murray Garde was trained as a linguistic anthropologist at Charles Darwin University (Grad Dip. Arts) and Queensland University (PhD). Since 1988 he has been working with Bininj Gunwok speakers of Western Arnhem Land and also from 1996 with Sa speaking communities of Pentecost Island in Vanuatu. Murray's interests span an eclectic range of cross-disciplinary topics including studies of person reference and conversation analysis, translation and interpreting, kinship, social organisation and language variety, song language, ethnobotany and ethnozoology, language and ethnophysiography, toponomy and traditional ecological knowledge and its application in land management. He currently coordinates the Bininj Gunwok Language Project, funded by the Federal Government's Indigenous Language Support program. His recent book Culture, Interaction and Person Reference in an Australian Language (2013) is an ethnography of speaking focusing on person reference in Bininj Gunwok.  Read more

Dineke Schokkin, Postdoctoral Researcher

After a BA in Dutch Language and Culture at Utrecht University, Dineke Schokkin did a research MA in Linguistics at University of Amsterdam. Her thesis was a sociolinguistic study focusing on the use of discourse markers and style shifting in the construction of identity by adolescents of Dutch, Turkish and Moroccan background. Dineke continued with a PhD at James Cook University, Cairns, which entailed a reference grammar of Paluai, an Oceanic language spoken on Baluan Island, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea. Based on two lengthy field trips, the grammar covers various aspects of the language including phonology, morphology, lexicon, syntax, semantics and discourse/pragmatics. While mainly focusing on synchronic language description, Dineke was at the same time interested in variation across the community: which social factors would come into play here and to what extent. Another area of specific interest were language contact phenomena in Paluai, in particular through contact with Tok Pisin, the creole serving as lingua franca in most parts of PNG.  Read more

Ruth Singer, Postdoctoral Researcher

Ruth is a DECRA ARC postdoctoral fellow at the Research Unit for Indigenous Language, School of Languages and Linguistics, University of Melbourne. Her project looks at how language is used at Warruwi Community, a remnant site of small-scale multilingualism in western Arnhem Land (Australia). She also has a Discovery project with Prof Janet Fletcher and Dr Marija Tabain to look at intonation and information structure in three Australian languages. Ruth has a PhD in Linguistics from Melbourne University, has been a postdoctoral fellow with the Language and Cognition group, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (Nijmegen, The Netherlands).  Read more

Miriam Meyerhoff, Visiting Professor

Miriam Meyerhoff works on language variation, especially in smaller, less well-documented languages. She has a particular interest in the structure and variability of languages that have emerged in situations of language contact; these include Bislama in Vanuatu, Pidgin in Hawai'i and Bequia English in the Caribbean. She also has an abiding interest in how variation is used to express and create social meaning, and has undertaken quantitative and qualitative analyses of the way variation in language helps to index gendered identities. Her work tackles variation at many levels of linguistic structure, and by positioning variation in relation to social structure, it intersects with the concerns of other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.  Read more

Catherine Travis, Project Advisor

Catherine's primary research interest lies in the study of grammatical variation in spontaneous speech, in both monolingual and bilingual communities. She is a specialist in Spanish, and has also worked on Portuguese, Japanese and English. Her current research projects include the Spanish of a bilingual community in New Mexico, USA (deriving from a project funded by the NSF), the English of immigrant communities in Australia (as part of the ARC funded Centre for Excellence on the Dynamics of Language), and the creation of a national language studies portal for Australian universities (funded by the OLT).

Andrew Pawley, Project Adviser

Andrew Pawley is Emeritus Professor, School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific, ANU. His main research interests are in the description and history of the languages and cultures of Pacific Island peoples and in developing richer models of linguistic competence. Andrew has undertaken fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa and Tasmania, investigating Austronesian and Papuan languages and English, including collaborative research with archaeologists, ethnographers and biologists. Since 1963 he has been engaged in interdisciplinary research among the Kalam people in the Schrader Ranges, Papua New Guinea, focusing on language and perception and use of the natural environment. Since 1967 he has also pursued a similar project with the people of Waya Island, Western Fiji. For the last 20 years, Andrew has collaborated with Malcolm Ross and Meredith Osmond on a series of volumes that use lexical comparisons to reconstruct the culture and environment of speakers of Proto Oceanic, ancestor of most of the Austronesian languages of the Pacific Islands.  Read more

Simon Greenhill, Project Advisor

Simon Greenhill is a ARC Discovery Fellow in the School of Culture, History & Language and ANU College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. He was previously a post-doctoral research fellow in the Psychology Department and Computational Evolution Group at the University of Auckland.

His main research focus is the evolution of languages and cultures. He has applied cutting-edge computational phylogenetic methods to language and cultural evolution, and used these methods to test hypotheses about human prehistory and cultural evolution in general. The questions he has explored so far include how people settled the Pacific, how language structure and complexity evolve, the co-evolution of cultural systems in the Pacific, and how cultural evolution can be modeled.

Eri Kashima, PhD Student

Eri is a PhD candidate who will form part of the Southern New Guinea contingency of the Wellsprings Project. She has completed two honours theses at the University of Melbourne; one in Anthropology (2007), and the other in Linguistics (2013). Eri researched into the distribution and semantics of the remote past tense in Papuan languages for her honours thesis. Her research interests lie in language contact and change phenomena, multilingualism, and sociolinguistic variation.  Read more

Marie-France Duhamel, PhD Student

Marie will be part of the team working in Vanuatu, on the language varieties of South Pentecost. For her Masters research (2010) she collected data on the islet of Atchin (northeast Malakula) to document features of the local language. As a research assistant she also worked on N'kep, a language of Espiritu Santo. Marie has particular interests in working on the lesser known languages, especially for what these can reveal in terms of cognition and linguistic typology. Investigating linguistic variation, its agents and how speakers respond to it, is another area of interest.  Read more

Alexandra Marley, PhD Student

Alexandra (Alex) is a PhD candidate in the Wellsprings Project who will be working in Western Arnhem Land. She completed a BA in Italian and European Studies at the University of Wollongong (2006) followed by a Dip. Ed. (2008) before changing direction to pursue linguistics. In 2013, Alex completed her MA in linguistics through the CRLD (La Trobe University), which included two months of fieldwork in Papua New Guinea. Her thesis looked at language use in a Qaqet Baining community (East New Britain, PNG) and how multilingualism is transmitted and maintained in the community, with a specific focus on key speaker types and their roles in language shift. Her research interests are language maintenance and shift, language endangerment, multilingualism and sociolinguistic variation, and particularly how these intersect.  Read more

Hedvig Skirgård, PhD Student

Hedvig is one of the PhD candidates in the Wellsprings project and her field site is Samoa. She is Swedish and has an MA from Stockholm University (2013). She has a background in grammatical typology, contact linguistics, cross-linguistic databases and languages of West Africa. She is interested in the diversity, disparity and complexity of linguistic systems and how we can improve our understanding of these topics by improving methodology in typology and more detailed first hand data collection.  Read more

Bianca Hennessy, Project Administrator

Bianca is currently undertaking Honours in Pacific Studies, researching academic representations of women's church groups in Melanesia. She has a keen interest in anthropology, gender and the Pacific region, and hopes to pursue further studies in these areas alongside assisting the Wellsprings researchers. Bianca's role in the project involves general administration and she acts as a central contact for those interested in the activities of the project.

Updated:  20 February 2015/Responsible Officer:  Laureate administrator /Page Contact:  CHL Web Admin