Joan Bresnan is Sadie Dernham Patek Professor in Humanities, Emerita in the Department of Linguistics and a senior researcher at Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI) at Stanford University. She earned her BA from Reed College in Portland, Oregon in Philosophy and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Linguistics. She held faculty positions at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and MIT before joining the Department of Linguistics at Stanford University in 1983. From 1983 to 1992 she was also a Member of the Research Staff of the Intelligent Systems Laboratory at the Xerox Corporation Palo Alto Research Center. She is a member of the NAS, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, and a Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society. She is a former President of the Linguistic Society of America and an Inaugural Fellow of the LSA. Her awards include a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Computational Linguistics, a Fellowship at the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Research Interests

Dr. Bresnan's research focuses on broadening the empirical foundations of Syntax---the skeletal structure of language---by synthesizing multiple sources of quantitative experimental evidence together with qualitative linguistic judgments, in order to understand how language is cognitively represented. She is one of the original designers and developers of Lexical-Functional Grammar, a formal grammar system which has allowed both flexible, typologically diverse linguistic descriptions for field linguistics, and computational implementations and extensions to theoretical models of exemplar-based syntax, optimality-theoretic syntax, and probabilistic grammars.

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Primary Section

Section 52: Psychological and Cognitive Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 34: Computer and Information Sciences