My name is Alexandra Lawson, but most people call me Ali.

  • I am a 6th year doctoral candidate in the Department of Linguistics of the University at Buffalo, SUNY.
  • I also work in the College of Arts and Sciences' Office of the Dean assisting with various Data Analysis projects.
  • I am a writer, researcher, and data analyst interested in finding new ways I can leverage my extensive knowledge about communication, language-based problem solving, and teaching in the STEM world!


Department of Linguistics

609 Baldy Hall

University at Buffalo, North Campus

Buffalo, NY, 14260

Office: 444 Baldy Hall

Email: aflawson (at) Buffalo (dot) edu


An industry-facing resume as well as full academic C.V. can be found below.


Interests: Pragmatics, semantics, anaphora, corpus linguistics, genre theory, interactional theories of meaning like stance and politeness.

  • I am interested in the semantics and pragmatics of English, both synchronically (in modern English) and diachronically (throughout history).
  • In particular, how do specific types of words like pronouns, names, and descriptions (anything that linguists consider anaphora, really) convey information like distance and formality and how that is conventionalized into genre.
  • My dissertation examines the anaphoric system of English (proper names, pronouns, and descriptions) as one that is responsive to speaker perceptions of social distance and discourse formality, a feature that is reflected in speaker's choices between more and less informative options (i.e. repeating a name when a pronoun would be acceptable, using a non-reflexive -self form when a personal pronoun is acceptable, etc).

  • I recently presented some of my dissertation research at the Linguistics Society of America Annual Meeting, January 3, 2019. Please find below a PDF version of my poster that you are free to download and reference/cite at will. Please keep in mind that this is a) a work in progress and b) part of my larger dissertation. Please feel free to contact me to talk about this or anything else related to my research!

Useful Guides and Other Resources

Here are some things that I think other people might find useful. Where relevant, I have indicated the source/authorship

Guides for grad students at UB

  • Guidebook for Graduate Student Teachers: A guidebook I compiled during the the 2018-19 school year as part of my responsibilities as TA Coordinator for the Linguistis Department at UB (right click to download and open).
  • Grad Student Self-Care:A short guide on how to access on-campus resources for graduate student mental and physical health at UB. This was developed for the UB Help Desk Lab (right click to download and open).

Running Experiments on Amazon Mechanical Turk

For my dissertation, I ran a self-paced reading study. I built the experiment using IbexFarm and recruited participants via Amazon Mechanical Turk. I relied heavily on the experitse of others while learning how to execute these tasks. Below are some of the resources I found the most helpful while working on this project:

  • Sherry Chen's Website: Sherry has some excellent examples of Self-Paced Reading experiments and how to format them for IbexFarm.
  • Lauren Ackerman's Website: Lauren has created a very easy to follow tutorial for processing IbexFarm output using bash commands.
  • In order to run my statistics in R, I had to do some additional preprocessing of the data. I have written up my full methodology (including reference to Lauren's guide and code provided to me by Hong Mo Kang, cited where appropriate)and I include that guide here for general posterity: Coming soon!