I currently supervise both undergraduate and graduate students in research projects related to language revitalization, language documentation, and language education, with a focus on Indigenous education. I also supervise students interested in constructed languages and fan communities. I am open to applications from graduate students for the Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies program in the Community Engagement, Social Change, and Equity Theme (CESCE) or the Digital Arts and Humanities Theme (DAHU), please email if you are interested in working with me.

Graduate Students

Current Students

Emily Comeau, PhD Student  – Community Engagement, Social Change and Equity IGS theme

Jon Corbett, PhD Candidate (co-supervised with Karis Shearer, primary supervisor) – Digital Arts and Humanities IGS theme

Aaron Leon, Master’s Student (co-supervised with Tania Willard) – Individualized IGS program

Jordan Ned, Master’s Student (co-supervised with Jeannette Armstrong, primary supervisor) – Community Engagement, Social Change, and Equity IGS theme

Completed Students


Kelly Panchyshyn, Master’s Student (co-supervised with Allison Hargreaves) – Community Engagement, Social Change, and Equity IGS theme – Collaborative and creative land planning in Canada’s north : supporting wild plant harvest through participatory action research in Whitehorse, Yukon

Undergraduate Students

Current Students 

Allison Karpinsky, FASS Undergraduate Research Award Recipient (2022) – Allison’s research will investigate the best way to approach converting physical language materials into digital formats. She will design an online survey, which will be promoted to experts through various forms of social media, to ask: What are best practices for digitizing language documentation resources? What are different tools one can use for the digitization of endangered languages? She will then take this information and use it toward cataloguing and digitizing the indigenous language known as Kala, an endangered language that is spoken within Papua New Guinea, in order that materials can be archived for future community use.

Completed Students

Katherine Brand, FASS Undergraduate Research Award Recipient (2021) – Katherine’s research examines how the online babywearing community of practice utilizes in-group language on social media to encourage caregivers to try babywearing and build solidarity for the practice of babywearing. Babywearing consists of carrying a baby in a carrier attached to the caregiver’s body. The carrying of babies allows caregivers a handsfree interaction with infants while providing social, emotional, and physical benefits to the infants. Katherine’s research is a case study that contributes to a larger project on the language of babywearing, led by linguistic anthropologist myself, in partnership with the Center for Babywearing Studies.

Click to read and hear more about Katherine’s research.

Shaniya Anand, IKBSAS Undergraduate Research Award Recipient (2019) – Shaniya’s research sought to answer two research questions: 1) Can specific words related to concepts of trauma and anxiety in the constructed language Marosha be used as an additional and accessible self-healing, therapeutic, and community-building resource to potential speakers?, and 2) By providing vocabulary that is tailored to explicitly and efficiently convey the worldviews of their speakers, can constructed languages be used to facilitate the recognition, normalization, and validation of the experiences of its speakers? Through her research, she found that a constructed language can indeed be used as a resource to potential speakers when facilitating mental wellbeing and in effectively communicating the experiences of speakers.

To read more about Shaniya’s research and the results, please click here.

Amy Doricic, IKBSAS Undergraduate Research Award Recipient (2018) – Amy’s research investigated how learning the constructed language Dothraki, spoken in the television series Game of Thrones, may lead individuals to appreciate cultural and linguistic diversity. She designed and distributed an online survey in order to answer the following research questions: 1) Within the fandom of Game of Thrones, do speakers of Dothraki value the diversity portrayed in the world of the television show more than non-speakers? and 2) How might this appreciation of diversity lend itself to real-world encounters? This study utilizes theories of language ideologies, studies of second language acquisition and studies of popular culture.

David Lacho, IKBSAS Undergraduate Research Award Recipient (2013) – French in The Magdalen Islands: A Drowning Dialect in a Rising Sea. For my research project, I will work with speakers of an endangered French dialect in the Magdalen Islands, Quebec. My proposed research will investigate how the speakers view their dialect in relation to other forms of French. As well, I plan on investigating how speakers identify with their dialect, both linguistically and socially. Considering these findings, I plan on working with the community to examine if social media is an appropriate outlet for promoting the dialect and, if so, I will collaboratively develop a website that will contribute to the dialectʼs promotion and maintenance.

For a media story about David’s research, please click here.

To see the website David has created, please click:

Robyn Giffen, IKBSAS Undergraduate Research Award Recipient (2012) – Writing a Language, Voicing a People: Creating an Orthography for Nabit. In my research project, I will be working to create a writing system for the language of Nabit, which is an oral language spoken in Northern Ghana. I propose to answer the question: What is the most effective writing system to represent all of the sounds in the language of Nabit and how can it contribute to improving literacy? I will work with a fluent speaker of Nabit, Vida Yakong, here in the Kelowna. I will also create a language tool, so that the writing system can be used in the adult literacy program and potentially be used in the education system.

For a media story about Robyn’s research, please click here and here.

Chara DeVolder, IKBSAS Undergraduate Research Award Recipient (2010) -Placing a Missing Piece into the Language Puzzle of Papua New Guinea: A Morphological and Syntactical Study of Kala. In May 2010, I traveled to Papua New Guinea to work with speakers of the indigenous language of Kala to conduct linguistic research. I worked in six villages and interviewed native speakers to collect words and sentences in the language, which has at least four geographically distinct dialects.  From this data, I developed a preliminary language dictionary that will be used in the local schools to prevent the loss of their indigenous language, protect the traditional terminology of their culture, and help the children establish a foundation in their Kala language learning.  Graduated June 2011.

For a media story about Chara’s research, please click here.