Phillips, Colin

Colin Phillips
Professor, Associate Director of NACS, Director of Language Science Center
Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
1413F Marie Mount Hall
General Research Interests: 
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Language Science
First, I do research on psycholinguistics. I am impressed by the rich structure of human language, especially the countless details that we’re not consciously aware of. I want to know how children ever manage to learn this. And I want to know how the structures are encoded and manipulated, in cognitive and neuroscientific terms. The search for answers to these questions has led me to work with many different tools, languages, and fields of research. Recently we have got a lot of mileage from studying linguistic illusions.
Second, I am 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. I am working with our wonderful community of faculty and students to change that. We believe 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 creation of the Maryland Language Science Center is the latest stage in our efforts to show that it’s genuinely useful when you put together the pieces of language science, for science and for society alike.
Research examples
BA Oxford University 1990
PhD MIT 1996

I am from the flat fen country of eastern England. I first came to the US in 1990 for what was supposed to be a 10-month stay. I’m still here. I’ve been based in the Washington DC area since 2000.