Colin Phillips is a professor in the Department of Linguistics. He also directs the Maryland Language Science Center. His research is on psycholinguistics, and he is impressed by the rich structure of human language, especially the countless details that people are not consciously aware of. He strives to understand how children manage to learn this and how the structures are encoded and manipulated, in cognitive and neuroscientific terms. The search for answers to these questions has led him to work with many different tools, languages and fields of research.
He is also an evangelist for language science. Language is hugely important to humans, but it rarely features among priority areas for universities or for science in general. He is working with a community of faculty and students to change that. This community believes that the basic science of language, and applications in education, technology and health all benefit from closer interaction — it’s easier to fix a system when we understand how it is supposed to work. The Maryland Language Science Center is the latest stage in efforts to show that it’s genuinely useful when you put together the pieces of language science, for science and for society alike.