Nathan Sanders earned the PHD from UCSC in 2003 with a dissertation on Opacity and Sound Change in the Polish Lexicon. Nathan was recently persuaded to send in the alumnus report below:
I’m finishing up my fourth year as a visiting assistant professor at Swarthmore College, a wonderful institution with long ties to Santa Cruz linguistics. I’ve been teaching courses across the curriculum: phonetics/phonology, syntax, semantics, historical linguistics, and my popular course on linguistic typology and constructed languages. I’m in the process of developing an exciting new upper-level course on advanced linguistic methodology and the history of linguistics. I’ve also been engaging in a variety of research projects: machine translation of Tuvan and statistical models of vowel harmony with my colleague K. David Harrison, and the phonetics of sign languages with my colleague Donna Jo Napoli, a topic that blossomed from a merger of my interest in phonetic functionalism with her interest in sign language linguistics. We have an upcoming paper with our student Becky Wright in the next issue of Language, “On the linguistic effects of articulatory ease, with a focus on sign languages”, which explores some of the ways that reduction of physical effort in casual conversation affects the usage of arm and hand joints in signing. Donna Jo and I are now working on a new paper on the role of the moments of inertia of the torso in shaping lexical patterns of symmetry in two-handed signs. And I’m planning a return to Santa Cruz later this summer to see everyone and revive my work with Jaye Padgett on mathematical models of vowel inventories.