Interdisciplinary Training

NSF IGERT (2008-2015)

Biological and Computational Foundations of Language Diversity


The IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) program created an interdisciplinary language science training program that extended across the university. The program was supported by a $3M NSF award (2008-2015).

The goals of the program were to create a sustainable model of interdisciplinary training for graduate students, preparing students to be entrepreneurial scientists. Students not only did coursework and research in diverse areas, they also took ownership of the program and took leadership responsibility for many key activities.

The program was a resounding success. It served 50 PhD students in 10 departments, double the number supported by the NSF award. It led to genuine culture change, and served as the catalyst for the creation of a broader university-wide initiative in language science.

IGERT pages at

5-year summary & student list

NSF proposal and reviews

Signature events & activities
Winter Storm
Language Science Day

Why it worked: reports and assessment

NSF’s IGERT program has been been discontinued; it has been replaced with the NRT program.

Language Science Fellows (2014-)

2014 LSF cohort

The Language Science Fellows program is an interdisciplinary program that builds upon the best features of the NSF-IGERT program. Students from diverse fields of language science undertake coursework, research training, and outreach and leadership activities together with colleagues from across the university.

Students get involved in program activities as soon as they arrive at UMD, but submit a formal application in the 2nd or 4th semester. Students take ~4-5 courses beyond their regular PhD program, and engage in research outside their primary field. A key goal is for students to go outside their ‘comfort zone’, a prerequisite for life-long adaptability. LSF students also lead program activities such as Winter Storm, Language Science Day and the outreach program.

PULSAR (2014-)

Program for Undergraduate Language Science Ambassadors in Research

2014 PULSAR cohort

The PULSAR program brings interdisciplinary language science training to the undergraduate level. Students get involved in language science research or policy activities, they take courses outside their major, and they help to lead outreach activities, in conjunction with the Language Science Fellows graduate program. All PULSAR students take part in the weekly 1-credit PULSAR Seminar, which involves a mix of discussions, guest lectures, and student research presentations.

The PULSAR program entails a 2-year commitment, so applications are solicited in the spring semester from freshmen or sophomores. Although the main goal of the program is to go beyond the standard curriculum, a degree transcript notation is available for PULSAR.