Team Members

Professor Amalia Arvaniti - Principal Investigator

Amalia got her Ph.D. from the Department of Linguistics at Cambridge (1991). Since then, she has held appointments at the University of California, San Diego (2002-2012), Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh, King's College London and the University of Cyprus (1994-2001). In 2012 she moved to the University of Kent as Professor of English Language and Linguistics and Head of English Language and Linguistics (ELL), a department of the School of European Culture and Languages; she served as Head of ELL from 2012 to 2016.

Amalia's research is best described as Laboratory Phonology: she uses experimental research methods to test linguistic models of sound structure. Her research on prosody, which has been widely published and cited, has yielded crucial insights into the production, perception and linguistic structure of intonation and has challenged traditional views on the nature of speech rhythm and rhythm class typology. A significant part of Amalia's research has contributed to our knowledge of Greek phonetics and phonology and to aspects of Greek dialectology and sociolinguistic variation. Her research has been supported by a number of grants, including grants from the British Academy, the Academy of Korean Studies, and the (US) National Science Foundation. Her research is currently supported by two grants, SPRINT and a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (MRF-2018-094) on "Politics and linguistic variation in a post-diglossic speech community" (2019-2021).

In 2015, Amalia was elected editor of the  Journal of the International Phonetic Association (JIPA) for the period between August 2015 and August 2019. She was previously (2014-2015) co-editor of JIPA together with Adrian Simpson. She also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Phonetics, Phonology, Journal of Greek Linguistics, and the Studies in Laboratory Phonology series of Language Science Press. 

For more information, please visit https://www.amaliaarvaniti.info/

(Photo Credit:  Prof. Dr. Adrian LEEMANN


Dr. Cong Zhang - Postdoctoral Research Associate

Dr. Cong Zhang's research mainly focuses on aspects about speech prosody (such as intonation and lexical tone), using a variety of approaches including:

  • Phonetics and Phonology (Laboratory Phonology)
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Language Acquisition

She finished her DPhil studies (viva-ed on 1st May 2018) at the Language and Brain Lab, University of Oxford. Her DPhil thesis, supervised by Professor Aditi Lahiri, was about the intonational tunes in a tonal language — Tianjin Mandarin. She received her Master’s degree in Linguistics and Language Acquisition from Newcastle University (UK). There, she worked on a number of projects including child language acquisition, second language acquisition, Mandarin lexical tone perception, etc. For her undergraduate degree, she studied Translation and Interpreting at Beijing Foreign Studies University (China). Following her DPhil, she worked as a TTS linguist (Linguistics Engineer) in A-Lab at Rokid Inc. One of her major projects was Singing Synthesis (text-to-singing). 


For more information, please visit https://congzhanglinguist.wordpress.com/


Dr. Katie Jepson - Postdoctoral Research Associate

Dr. Kathleen (Katie) Jepson's research focuses on describing prosodic structure including phonological patterns of word-level prosody and intonation and the effects of prosody on the phonetics of segments. She is interested in exploring similarities and differences in aspects of speech prosody cross-linguistically, particularly through investigating under-resourced languages and dialects.


Katie attained her PhD from the University of Melbourne in 2019, supervised by Prof. Janet Fletcher, Dr. Ruth Singer and Dr. Hywel Stoakes. Working with Yolŋu in northeast Arnhem Land in northern Australia, Katie described aspects of the prosodic system of Djambarrpuyŋu. Her undergraduate training at the Australian National University under Dr. Bethwyn Evans involved contributing to the primary description of Torau, an Oceanic language of Bougainville, autonomous region of Papua New Guinea.


Beyond academic endeavours, Katie has co-taught at summer schools and collaborated in creating a programme of linguistics-themed workshops for high school students called the Linguistics Roadshow.


Dr. Chris Cummings - Senior Staff Member

Dr. Chris Cummins works on semantics and pragmatics from a theoretical and experimental perspective. His interests include implicature (especially in the domain of quantity expressions), presupposition, and speech acts: in particular, he is interested in how hearers integrate the multiple sources of information available in order to arrive at an understanding of the social actions a speaker is attempting to perform. Chris will be working with the SPRINT team to develop a system for the pragmatic annotation of the spoken corpora and the analysis of the resulting data.

For more information, please visit https://www.ed.ac.uk/profile/chris-cummins 


Dr. Yiya Chen - Senior Staff Member

Yiya graduated in 2003 from Stony Brook University with a PhD in linguistics, specializing in Phonetics and Phonology. Before moving to Leiden, she had worked as Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and Radboud University Nijmegen. Prior to her PhD, I had studied at Beijing Foreign Studies University (BA), Stony Brook University (MA), and had taught at various universities. 

Yiya is interested in prosody and prosodic variation and how our understanding of their nature may shed light on more general linguistic and psycho-linguistic theories of speech representation and processing. One line of her research has focused on the way prosodic organization affects the fine details of phonetic realization and how knowledge as such informs the nature of both prosodic and segmental representations. This research has been funded by a starting Grant from the ERC, to investigate pitch variation in Chinese dialects, taking an interdisciplinary approach to seek a cognitively plausible explanation for the representation and processing of pitch variation in tonal languages.    

Her other line of research concerns the way prosody is employed by speakers to convey communicative intentions. Her research in this read has been funded in the Vernieuwingsimplus projects ( VENI and VIDI) of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research ( NWO). Currently, she is investigating the interaction of tone sandhi and information structure marking in Chinese dialects. The main focus is on how prosodic manifestations of information structure are constrained by the characteristic sound patterns of the language and how we can accommodate these differences within a more general theory of the interaction of prosody and information structure. 

Yiya will be advising the SPRINT team on the preparation and design of eye-tracking and neurophysiological experiments.


For more information, please visit https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/staffmembers/yiya-chen


Georg Lohfink - Lab Manager

Georg Lohfink became a member of the Department of English Language and Linguistics in July 2018. 

He holds a BA in Childhood Education and English Studies from the University of Erfurt in Germany, and an MA in Linguistics from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. 

As SPRINT Lab Manager, Georg provides support to the team. In particular, he is involved with preparing and running experiments and recordings, solving hardware or software related issues, as well as taking on programming tasks.


Bryony Dutta - Project Officer

Bryony joined the University in 2019, having relocated back to a small village just outside Canterbury. Having studied a BA in Classics and a MA in Museum Studies at UCL, she went onto work at some of London’s most exciting cultural organisations such as the Serpentine Galleries and the Science Museum. This is her first time working on a Linguistics project.