My research focuses on language use in legal and institutional contexts, especially in the construction of consent and sexual violence, forensic linguistics, access to legal and health care resources, and the construction of identity, and especially the representation of multiply marginalized groups. My work triangulates quantitative and qualitative approaches, especially corpus approaches, variation analysis, and discourse analysis.
I examine how violence prevention texts and survivor support resources produced by public institutions for the different sectors of the public define sexual consent and violence. I focus on how they use linguistic features -- such as presupposition, pronouns, and modal auxiliaries -- to project beliefs and experiences onto different target audiences. More recently, I've also been working on minoritized and non-standard language varieties in legal contexts.
Making policy recommendations to improve violence prevention and survivor support programs is an important part of my work, and I welcome opportunities to engage with wider audiences within and beyond academia.
I direct the Sociolinguistics Lab at the University at Buffalo. Members of our lab work on language and identity, multilingualism, discourse and pragmatics, gesture, and sign languages. We meet weekly for presentations and workshops.
Before joining the Linguistics Department at the University at Buffalo, I was a Visiting Scholar at Victoria University of Wellington and at York University, where I worked with Miriam Meyerhoff and Susan Ehrlich. I have a background in cognitive sciences and philosophy, and I earned my MA and MSc at the University of Edinburgh. My doctoral dissertation is titled "Sexual consent in British institutional discourse".
I love baking and windowsill gardening, and that's where I can usually be found when I'm not at work.