Language Science Center

What. The Maryland Language Science Center (LSC) is an umbrella organization for the university’s strategic priority in Language Science. It represents the 200+ language scientists at the University of Maryland, spread across 17 departments and research centers.

LSC is engaged in 4 types of activities.

  • Infrastructure: staff support, fundraising activities, management for interdisciplinary initiatives, space, communications and publicity, faculty leaders, oversight and advisory mechanisms.
  • Training: interdisciplinary programs at graduate and undergraduate levels, emphasizing collaboration, student leadership, and public-facing science.
  • Research: most research is driven by individual faculty and student interests, LSC aggregates, promotes, and facilitates connections; a small number of larger projects are based at LSC.
  • Beyond UMD: national and international partnerships, public-facing science (outreach, policy)

Wby. LSC was created in response to an opportunity. Language is centrally important to humans, but it rarely appears in lists of popular university priority areas. UMD hopes to change that. LSC builds on the strong grass-roots community created by our highly successful NSF-IGERT interdisciplinary graduate program, and on the presence of two key ‘migrator’ centers — CASL and NFLC — that provide a bridge from academia to government and policy.

When. LSC was launched in 2013. It is supported via a Tier III Major Campus Research Initiative award for its initial 3 years. A review at that point will determine LSC’s future.

How. LSC is supported by funding from the Provost, the Vice President for Research, by 4 colleges (Arts & Humanities; Behavioral & Social Sciences; Computational, Mathematical, and Physical Sciences; and Education), by the Center for Advanced Study of Language, and by many individual departments.

Who: Center for Advanced Study of Language; College of Education (all 3 departments); Communication; Computer Science; Electrical and Computer Engineering; English; Hearing & Speech Science; iSchool; Linguistics; National Foreign Language Center; Neuroscience & Cognitive Science; Philosophy; Psychology; School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; UMIACS


Language Science is a major strategic priority for the University of Maryland. It ought to be just as prominent as any other STEM field — language is that important to humans.

Pat O'Shea

Vice President for Research, University of Maryland


LSC Staff and Members
Colin Phillips

Colin Phillips


Rochelle Newman

Rochelle Newman

Associate Director

Maria Polinsky

Maria Polinsky

Associate Director (from 2015)

Jeff Lidz

Jeff Lidz

Director, Public Initiatives

Rebecca Silverman

Rebecca Silverman

Director, Maryland Language and Literacy Research Center

Tess Wood

Tess Wood

Assistant Director

Judi Gorski

Judi Gorski


Csilla Kajtar

Csilla Kajtar

Program Coordinator

+ 80 faculty

+ 90 PhD students

+ 10 PULSAR students

+20 research staff


Current home (-2016)

LSC has temporary space in the ground floor of Taliaferro Hall. In addition to LSC staff offices, one large meeting room can host groups of up to 50, and two smaller rooms serve as a conference room and lounge.

map | calendar

Future home (2017-)

LSC’s long-term home will be in HJ Patterson Hall, where it will occupy 4000 sf. The new space won’t be available until early 2017, but it will be worth the wait. The building is undergoing a dramatic remodel as the hub of the Global Maryland initiative, and LSC will occupy a prominent space that has been designed for its needs. The location is ideally placed in the center of the campus, adjacent to the Stamp Student Union and the future Purple Line station and the St John Center, a state-of-the-art teaching building due to open in 2016.

Some LSC Initiatives

Just a few of the things that we're working on


Langscape is a Geographical Information System (GIS) resource for information about language diversity. It combines best-in-class language mapping with a powerful database for gathering information on 6000+ languages. It aims to serve diverse academic and scientific needs (language documentation and analysis, language pedagogy, language technology), and also serves as a resource for government and industry, and for educators and the public.

langscape site | encyclopedia of life (model)

Global Network

The Global Research Alliance in Language (GRAIL) is a proposed initiative for Universitas21, a worldwide network of 27 leading research universities. Coordinated by the University of Maryland together with many partner universities, the project aims to raise the visibility of interdisciplinary language science internationally, via public-facing activities, integration of study abroad and research, Global Classrooms, and collaborative research.

GRAIL Site | U21 members | Global Maryland

Field Stations

LSC is developing plans for multi-disciplinary field stations, under the leadership of Maria Polinsky. The field stations aim to facilitate research through language training, local connections, and infrastructure support. The first is planned for Sololá in the highlands of Guatemala, close to the shores of Lake Atitlan. This area is of much interest to experts in fields such as linguistics, nutrition, and migration.