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Undergraduate Research

This page demonstrates the research projects that undergraduate students in the Department of Linguistics have conducted with faculty mentors. As researchers, we believe in the importance of linguistics research for understanding human experience and we use interdisciplinary frameworks and tools to understand  and support linguistic diversity.

FAQs about Undergraduate Research

Pursuing Undergraduate Research Heading link

Elise Hotchkiss


“My Worthless Pancreas: Linguistic Conception of Diabetes in Pop Fiction”

Researcher: Elise Hotchkiss (BS in Computer Science and Linguistics | Minor in Spanish| Minor in Mathematics. Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jill Hallett (Linguistics)

“Diabetes is languaged as a contemporary indicator of vulnerability, replacing canonical representations of gender weakness with disability weakness, and capitalizes on readers’ linguistic expectation of the romance genre.”

Elise’ conference attendance is supported by funding contribution from Professor Emeritus and former head of Department of Linguistics, Dr. Richard Cameron.

Research poster

Watch the Recording HERE.

LING 310 Language and Discrimination (Spring 2023) research panel presentations at the 2023  In/Between Conference, School of Literatures, Cultural Studies and Linguistics.

Advisor: Dr. Jill Hallett

  • Devika Tiwari “The role of language in upholding Indian casteism”
  • Elise Hotchkiss “Media representation and reception of language about diabetes”
  • Ivana Lucero “Orientalism, sinophobia, and social media erasure of China’s soft power”
  • Marisol Vela “Language discrimination and language loss among heritage Spanish and Cantonese speakers”
  • Megan Herrera “Producing a resource for underrepresented languages in natural language processing”
  • Riley Thompson “Building a schematic for linguistic bias mitigation in YouTube captioning and subtitling”
  • Laaiba Mahmood “Multi-generational language change, loss, and discrimination among the South Asian diaspora in Chicagoland”
  • Tonveer Butt “Linguistic appropriation in popular culture”
  • Johann Tabbilos “Designing a communication calendar to prevent intergenerational language loss”
  • Aneesa Rasheed A bottom-up approach to assessing language access needs of people with disabilities
  • Mythreyi Namuduri Preventing language loss through technology and teaching: Lessons from Ruuli and Rohingya
Research poster

Watch the Recording HERE.  (Presentation starts at 1 hour and 20 minutes into the recording).

Devika Tiwari, Elise Hotchkiss, Danielle Cartagenes. “Red Herrings: Did you catch that? How Embedded Clues in Natural Language Serve to Confuse Computers”. Project presented at the 2023  In/Between Conference Undergraduate Researcher Forum, School of Literatures, Cultural Studies and Linguistics. Winner of Best Student Presentation Award. (Advisor: Dr. Xuehua Xiang)

Laaiba Mahmood


“What’s Your Language Story? An Examination of Multi-Generational Language Change and Loss among South Asian Diaspora” 

Researcher: Laaiba Mahmood (BA in Political Science | Minor in Spanish and communication. Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jill Hallett (Linguistics)

This study examines perceptions of, connection to, and change or loss of South Asian languages among multiple generations of South Asian diaspora in the United States, more specifically in the greater Chicago area.


Christine Forde


“Simps” and “Pick-me’s:” How Slang reveals Gender Perceptions in Relationships and Language.”

Researcher: Christine Forde Gude (Majors in Anthropology and Psychology | Minor in Linguistics Faculty Advisor: Dr. Xuehua Xiang (Linguistics)

Through the lens of indexicality, this study analyzes the meanings and usages of two slang terms “simps” and “pick-me’s” that have shown a sharp increase in usage on social media since the Covid-19 pandemic. The analyses illustrate the heavily stereotypical associations related to expectations in dating that work to perpetuate existing real-world gender biases and inequalities between men and women.


Megan Herrera's Project


“TweetTaglish: A Dataset for Investigating Tagalog-English Code-Switching” 

Researchers: Megan Herrera (undergraduate researcher) with co-authors/mentors Ankit Aich and Dr. Natalie Parde  (UIC NLP Lab)

This project builds a Tagalog-English code-switching dataset constructed from social media data, using Twitter as a resource. Read the paper published in the Proceedings of the 13th Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2022).


DevikaTiwari's Project


“An Exploration of Linguistically-Driven and Transfer Learning Methods for Euphemism Detection” 

Researcher: Devika Tiwari (BS in Computer Science and Linguistics|BS in Neuroscience) with co-author/mentor Dr. Natalie Parde  (UIC NLP Lab)

Euphemisms are often used to drive rhetoric, but their automated recognition and interpretation are under-explored. This project investigate four methods for detecting euphemisms in sentences containing potentially euphemistic terms. It is presented at the Third Workshop on Figurative Language(FigLang 2022), as part of EMNLP 2022, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, December 8, 2022.

Iris Jia Project

“变化之夏-A Summer of Change”

Researcher: Iris Jia (BS in Biology| Minor in Chinese); Supervised by: Dr. Xuehua Xiang

Using her research experience in Biology and her language skills in Chinese, student researcher Iris Jia (Major in Biological Science and Minor in Chinese) created Chinese-English bilingual infographic to introduce the ecological preservation efforts of Urban Rivers’ Wild Mile. The project shows the importance of multilingual communication to the general public about environmental preservation efforts.


Michelle Chen

“How Different Generations Understand Classic Chinese Stories with Prominent Female Roles”

Researcher: Michelle Chen (BS in Math |Minor in Chinese; Supervised by Dr. Xuehua Xiang

On July 9, 2021 the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) was passed into law in the State of Illinois requiring all public schools to teach a unit of Asian American history with the aim to prevent prejudice and violence against Asian Americans. Mythological stories, such as Mulan and the Chang’e’s Flight to the Moon, lend themselves well in the Asian American History unit; through engaging story forms, they reconstruct the early histories of a culture reflecting normative practices and value systems. However, myth-based stories are not monolithic- they evolve over time, over space, and over generations. A non-critical teaching of mythology may in fact perpetuate outdated normative values not suited for the Asian American context. To better understand why and how we should use traditional stories to teach Asian American histories, this study investigates generational differences in knowledge and perceptions of traditional mythological stories in the Chinese American Community. Using a mixed methods approach (IRB ID: STUDY2022-1358), this study combines surveys, interviews and literature research. Questionnaires were administered using Google Forms followed by one-on-one interviews. The results were triangulated with literature research on the use of Chinese myths in educational settings in and outside of the US.

Research poster


“An Investigation of the Vitality and Perception Of the Ga language in the Ghanaian-American Community”

Undergraduate Student Researcher: Eli Nukunya (English Major | Linguistics Minor); Supervised by: Dr. Xuehua Xiang

The Ga language is a Ghanaian language most commonly spoken by the Ga-Adangbe ethnic group in Ghana that has become spoken in the Ghanaian diaspora in recent history. As Ghanaians have created more immigrant communities in the diaspora, it is possible that the Ga language may suffer the same fate of many immigrant languages and lose its influence and importance within the Ghanaian-American community, especially among the younger generation. Through surveys and interviews, this study investigates Ghanaian-Americans’ connection to the Ga language along with how they view the Ga language and its importance in comparison to languages in the diaspora community.

Undergraduate Student Research Projects Heading link

Researcher Title Public Dissemination and Funding Source Faculty Mentor Date of Completion
Ingrid Pureco Serial founder effects and phonemic decline: A state of the science UIC In-Between Conference; UIC Undergraduate Research Forum Carrie Pichan Spring 2022
Danielle Cartagenes Meet Neti: Designing a game prototype for teaching phonetics UIC In-Between Conference; Recipient of Best Student Poster Award Natalie Parde (Computer Science) and Jill Hallett (Linguistics) Spring 2022
Brittani Howard Revitalization through Self-Documentation, a Community-Centered Language-Learning App UIC In-Between Conference; MidWest Association for Language Learning Technology Conference; UIC Undergraduate Research Forum Jill Hallett Spring2022
Grace Pnacek What is Lost in Translation: An Analysis of Google Translate and Poetry UIC In-Between Conference Xuehua Xiang Spring 2022
Iris Jia A Summer of Change: A Bilingual Infographic Project on Chicago’s Wild Mile UIC In-Between Conference Xuehua Xiang Spring 2022
Eli Nukunya An Investigation into the Vitality of the Ga language UIC Undergraduate Research Forum; LASURI Award Xuehua Xiang Fall 2021-Spring 2022
Megan Herrera TweetTaglish: A Dataset for Investigating Tagalog-English Code-Switching The 13th Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2022) Ankit Aich and Dr. Natalie Parde (UIC NLP Lab) Spring 2022
Devika Tiwari An Exploration of Linguistically-Driven and Transfer Learning Methods for Euphemism Detection To be presented at the 2022 Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP) Natalie Parde (Computer Science) Winter 2022
Christine Forde Gude "Simps" and "Pick-me's:" How AAVE Slang Encapsulates the Dating Culture and Beliefs of Young People in Online Communities UIC LASURI Award Xuehua Xiang Spring 2023
Michelle Chen How Different Generations Understand Classic Chinese Myths UIC LASURI Award Xuehua Xiang Spring 2023
Laaiba Mahmood What's Your Language Story? An Examination of Multi-Generational Language Change and Loss among South Asian Diaspora UIC Honors College -Honors Project Jill Hallett Spring 2023
Carmen Thom How long does it take to name a picture? The effects of proficiency, age of acquisition, and language usage on lexical retrieval among Spanish heritage speakers. The Chancellor's Undergraduate Research Award (CURA) With Rosela Romero, Jess Ward, and faulty supervisor Liliana Sánchez (Hispanic and Italian Studies) Spring 2023
Elise Hotchkiss My Worthless Pancreas: Linguistic Conception of Diabetes in Pop Fiction UIC LASURI Award; Poster Presentation at the Annual Conference of annual conference of the Illinois Language and Linguistics Society. Jill Hallett Fall2023-Spring2024
Jimmy Del Re The Language of Music Pedagogy: A Comparative Study of the Language of Academic and non-Academic Music Instruction UIC In-Between Conference Xuehua Xiang Spring 2024
Isaac Felix PATHWiSE: An AI-Assisted Teacher Authoring Tool for Creating Custom Robot-Assisted Learning Activities. Dr. Joseph E. Michaelis' Team (Department of Computer Science, UIC). Read publication at Joseph E. Michaelis (UIC Department of Computer Science) Spring 2024