If you’re interested in becoming a member of ECOM, please contact Dorit Bar-On.


Dorit Bar-On
Professor, Philosophy, University of Connecticut 
(formerly Zachary Smith Distinguished Professor, Philosophy, UNC-Chapel Hill)
Professor Bar-On specializes in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and epistemology. She also has research interests in metaethics. In her book, Speaking My Mind: Expression and Self-Knowledge (Oxford Nov 2004), she develops a neo-expressivist view of first-person authority, drawing on insights from philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, theory of action, and epistemology.  In recent years, she has been working on the topic of continuities between linguistic and non-linguistic communication and expressive behavior. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Expression, Communication, and the Origins of Meaning, under contract with Oxford University Press. She also has a forthcoming article co-authored with ECOM member Drew Johnson in an international volume on epistemology. Additional works in progress include: a book on expression and self-knowledge (with Crispin Wright), a book on truth (with Keith Simmons), and a manuscript on neo-expressivism.

Faculty Members

Paul Bloomfield
Professor, Philosophy, University of Connecticut
Paul Bloomfield’s specializes in moral philosophy and metaphysics, and is particularly interested in their overlap. He has published monographs on moral realism and on the relation of the moral virtues to happiness. He is currently interested in the empirical status and content of “human nature,” including how it may place constraints on morality. (See, for instance, his recent paper titled “Tracking Eudaimonia.”)
Paul Bloomfield

Dr. Marie Coppola
Associate Professor, Psychology, Linguistics, Director of the Language Creation Laboratory, University of Connecticut
Dr. Coppola investigates the contributions of the learner and the environment by studying languages created de novo by individuals (home sign gesture systems) and communities (e.g., Nicaraguan Sign Language). She also investigates the relationship between language development and cognitive development in the areas of number cognition, social cognition, and executive function. She also co-edits the Sign Language Typology book series.

Marie Coppola

Mitchell Green
Professor, Philosophy, University of Connecticut
Mitch Green's specializations are in Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind, and Aesthetics. His current research interests include evolutionary biology of communication, speech acts and their role in communication, empathy, self-knowledge, self-expression, and attitude ascription.

Mitchell Green

Harry van der Hulst
Professor, Linguistics, University of Connecticut

Professor van der Hulst specialized in the study of phonology in both spoken and sign languages, and has published over 170 articles and 29 edited volumes in these areas. Recent work includes: Asymmetries in vowel harmony – A representational approach (2018, Oxford University Press), Radical CV Phonology – a theory of segmental and syllabic structure (2020, Edinburgh University Press), and A mind for language – The innateness debate (2020, Cambridge University Press). Work on two handbooks (Vowel Harmony and The history of phonology, both for OUP) is ongoing. Van der Hulst is Editor-in-Chief of The Linguistic Review and co-editor of the series ‘Studies in generative grammar’ (both with Mouton de Gruyter). Beyond phonology, he has interests in the study of gesture, language evolution, and form-meaning relations in all forms of semiotic systems.


William G. Lycan
Distinguished Visiting Professor, Philosophy, University of Connecticut
and William Rand Kenan Professor Emertius, Philosophy, UNC-Chapel Hill

William G. Lycan specializes in philosophy of mind and philosophy of language, but also contributes to epistemology. He is the author of: Logical Form in Natural Language(MIT, 1984); Knowing Who(with Stephen Boer) (MIT, 1986); Consciousness(MIT, 1987); Judgement and Justification(Cambridge, 1988); Modality and Meaning(Kluwer, 1994); Consciousness and Experience(MIT, 1996); Real Conditionals(Oxford, 2001); On Evidence in Philosophy (Oxford, 2019), and 180-odd articles on assorted topics. He has a new paper entitled "Hearing As," forthcoming in The Epistemology of Non-Visual Perception (Oxford).

William Lycan

Dr. Letitia Naigles

Dr. Naigles studies children’s language acquisition, particularly across languages and with special populations. Her current research focuses on the interacting roles of linguistic input and linguistic predispositions in the acquisition of word meanings and sentence structures in both typically developing children and children who have been diagnosed with autism. She is the editor of Innovative Investigations of Language in Autism Spectrum Disorder (2017,  NY: APA Books/Walter deGruyter) and just received an R01 titled "Early Predictors to School Age Language: Individual and Interactional Child and Parent Factors."

Letitia Naigles

Whitney Tabor
Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut

Whit Tabor is interested in the tension between humans’ need for order and predictability on the one hand, and their need for flexibility and novelty on the other.  He has investigated this tension by studying grammar, language change, language processing, and, most recently, the emergence of coordination in groups.

Dimitris Xygalatas
Professor, Anthropology & Cognitive Science Program, University of Connecticut
Dr. Xygalatas’ interests include ritual, cooperation, and the interaction between cognition and culture. His research focuses on the application of scientific methods and technologies in ethnographic field research. He has conducted several years of fieldwork in Southern Europe and Mauritius. Before coming to UConn, he held positions at the universities of Princeton, Aarhus, and Masaryk, where he served as Director of the Laboratory for the Experimental Research of Religion (LEVYNA). At UConn, he directs the Experimental Anthropology Lab, which develops methods and technologies for quantifying behavior in real-life settings. He is affiliated with the Cognitive Science Program, the Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy. 

Eiling Yee
Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut

Dr. Yee investigates how meaning is represented in the human mind by studying the cognitive and neural representations of concepts. An area of particular interest in the Yee Lab is the relationship between context (e.g., perceptual information and experiences) and language and/or conceptual processing. Dr. Yee also has interests in spoken word recognition and language processing more broadly.

Dr.Yee regularly teaches seminars on the Psychology of Language. Please contact her for more details.

Graduate and Postdoctoral Members

Eno Agolli
Graduate student, Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Eno Agolli's primary interests are in the philosophy of language, the philosophy of logic, and formal semantics. His research in language focusses on reference, specifically the semantics of proper names, pronouns, and anaphora. His research in logic focusses on unrestricted quantification and logical nihilism. He dabbles sometimes in the philosophy of Wittgenstein, especially his theory of nonsense, especially as it pertains to the semantics/pragmatics interface.


Teresa Allen
ECOM Research Specialist; Graduate student, Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Teresa is primarily interested in social, political, and feminist epistemology. Her dissertation explores the conditions under which we ought to open-mindedly engage with those with whom we disagree. She has secondary interests in philosophy of language, human rights, truth, and ethics.

Teresa Allen

Phillip Barron
Graduate Student, Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Phillip Barron is a poet and student in the PhD program in Philosophy. He works primarily in the disciplines of philosophy of language, mind, and aesthetics. Using techniques from pragmatics, his work offers an account of how a poem means.

Phillip Barron

Dandan Chen
Graduate student, Educational Psychology, University of Connecticut

Dandan is a PhD student in Educational Psychology, with a focus on bias in the evaluating component of program evaluation. As an ECOM member, she is interested in exploring how communication, philosophy, and cognitive sciences can inform the research of evaluation.

Charles Davis
Graduate Student, Psychology, University of Connecticut

I use primarily cognitive neuroscience methods to answer the question, “How is meaning represented in the brain?” I am interested in semantic representation in language, and the neural circuits that support these representations. My current work is investigating the representation of abstract concepts, looking at the interaction of semantic and episodic memory in the processing of abstract concepts, and the role of the hippocampus in this relation. I am also interested in the distributed representation of semantic memory across sensorimotor areas of the brain (the extent to which sensory, perceptual, and motor areas are involved in processing language), and how these ideas map onto language creation and, from an evolutionary perspective, non-human communication.

Charles Davis

Martin Flament Fultot
PhD candidate in philosophy at the Sorbonne University in Paris and PhD candidate at the Center for the Ecological Study of Perception and Action at UConn

Martin's interests are in the philosophy of biology, the philosophy of mind, and psychology. His main interests are the problem of intentionality and the coordination of action. His current empirical research looks into the problem of postural coordination and how synergies can be measured and analyzed. His theoretical research looks into the links between thermodynamic principles, coordination, and intentionality at all scales of living systems.

 Martin Flament Fultot

Mary Gregg
Graduate Student, Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Mary is working on her PhD at UConn. Her research focuses on tests for consciousness in borderline cases of consciousness and the implications these tests have on our interactions with artificial intelligence. She also has interests in the interaction between metaphor and perception, the role of music as a signpost for consciousness in non-traditional cases, and how and whether language shapes our conceptions of time, space, and identity.

Mary Gregg

Jared Henderson
Graduate Student, Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Jared Henderson is a PhD candidate in philosophy, focusing on the intersections of philosophical logic, metaphysics, and semantics. He will defend his dissertation, Degrees and Deflationism, in Spring 2019. After graduating he will begin working as on ontological engineer at Cycorp, an artificial intelligence company in Austin, TX . His website is

Jared Henderson

Kensuke Ito
Graduate Student, Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Ken primarily studies assertion and denial in the philosophy of language and philosophical logic. He is also interested in the questions about their origins and precursors.

Ken Ito

Robin Jenkins
Graduate Student, Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Robin works in natural language semantics, pragmatics, and the philosophy of language. Specifically, he is interested in natural language modals and conditionals.


Drew Johnson
PhD Candidate, Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Drew's primary research interests right now are in metaethics and epistemology. His main focus is on exploring a neo-expressivist account of the nature of ethical thought and discourse, in a way that ultimately allows for the possibility of ethical knowledge.

Drew Johnson

Nathan Kellen
PhD Candidate, Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Nathan's primary research interests are in truth studies and the philosophy of logic. His dissertation, preliminarily titled Pluralisms about Truth and Logic, examines the theoretical connections between truth pluralism and logical pluralism. Other interests include normativity, philosophy of language, and semantic anti-realism about pretty much everything.

Nathan Kellen

Susanna Melkonian-Altshuler
Visiting Graduate Student, Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Susanna's primary research areas are philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and philosophy of art. She is interested in the relationship between emotion, intentionality, and phenomenology. She is also interested in the relationship between emotion, empathy, and morality. She has also worked on the relationship between embodied cognition, artifact concepts, and lexical meaning. She has done so at Heinrich-Heine-University Dusseldorf, where she was a DFG-Junior Research Fellow at the Collaborative Research Centre 991: "The Structures of Representations in Language, Cognition, and Science."

Susanna Melkonian-Altshuler

Aliyar Ozercan
ECOM Coordinator; PhD Candidate, Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Aliyar’s interests are in Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind, and Neuropsychology. He has worked on distinguishing speaker reference from audience reference. As his current research focuses on the neural activity of encoding and decoding representations, his overall aim is to develop a unified and robust theory to explain the whole processes involved in conversation -- from constructing, storing, and accessing representations, to transferring and creating stimuli.

Aliyar Ozercan

Jenelle Salisbury
Graduate Student, Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Jenelle is primarily interested in the nature of thought and its relationship to consciousness. She is also interested in the unity of consciousness and self-consciousness. She aims to use recent findings in neuroscience to inform philosophical theorizing on these issues.

Janelle Salisbury

Ryo Tanaka
Graduate Student, Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Ryo Tanaka’s primary research areas are philosophy of mind and philosophy of language. He is interested in a normative aspect of intentionality/meaning, and its place in the natural world. Relatedly, he is interested in the semantics and pragmatics of normative language, as well as the history of pragmatism (especially Wilfrid Sellars). His dissertation focuses on philosophical issues on the nature of linguistic and conceptual knowledge.

Ryo Tanaka

Vivi Tecoulesco
Graduate Student, Developmental Psychology, University of Connecticut

My main research interests concern how individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) learn and use language, with particular emphasis on lexical acquisition and organization.  I am interested in the central auditory system’s role in language processing, specifically how inconsistent and/or imprecise neural coding of complex speech sounds affects word learning and use.  I am also interested in the lack of generalization often seen in ASD and its effect on category formation and extension, as well as on word learning strategies.  Broadly speaking, I am trying to establish links between domain general sensory processing of speech and macro-level language ability.

Affiliated Members

Vivi Tecoulesco

Emma Björngard
Academic Adviser, University of Connecticut School of Business

Emma's interests are mainly in Philosophy of Mind, Language, and Ethics. Other interests include animal communication and the role of emotions in communication. Her dissertation explored embodied affect and cognition.

Emma Bjorngard

Ralph DiFranco
Instructor, Philosophy, Auburn University

Ralph works primarily in philosophy of language and applied ethics. His current research is on slurs, inner speech, and derogatory humor.

Ralph DiFranco

Sally McBrearty
Professor, Anthropology, University of Connecticut

Professor McBrearty's research focuses on human evolution, particularly the origin of Homo sapiens, paleolithic archaeology, African prehistory, lithic technology, taphonomy, and geoarchaeology.


Andrew Morgan
Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Andrew’s research spans issues in moral psychology, social philosophy, and philosophy of language. He is interested in using pragmatics to better understand the diversity of inner speech’s forms and functions. In moral psychology this means exploring inner speech’s role in deliberation and action, and in social philosophy this means explaining the expressive power of solitary derogatory utterances. Andrew also works more generally on the implications of nonstandard linguistic contexts (like inner speech and internet speech) for our understanding of the nature of pragmatic phenomena like speech acts, implicature, and self-expression.

Andrew Morgan

Kate Nolfi
Assistant Professor, Philosophy, University of Vermont

Kate works primarily in epistemology, although her research touches on related topics in metaethics, the philosophy of action, and the philosophy of mind.  Kate is particularly interested in meta-normative questions in epistemology.  Her dissertation, which develops and defends a novel account of the authority and force of epistemic norms, is titled "Understanding Epistemic Normativity."  Before joining the Philosophy Department at UNC as a graduate student in 2008, Kate earned her B.A. at Williams College, where she double-majored in Philosophy and Mathematics.

Kate Nolfi

Casey Johnson
Assistant Professor, Philosophy, University of Idaho

Casey's research focuses on the effects of social position and power on testimonial knowledge transmission and on conversation. In current work, she is interested in epistemic labor, disagreement, and epistemic and communicative injustice.

Casey Johnson

Kevin Richardson
Assistant Professor, Philosophy, North Carolina State University

Kevin Richardson specializes in metaphysics, philosophy of language, and pragmatism. His recent work focuses on the metaphysics of meaning and its implications for semantic theory.

Kevin Richardson

Carol W. Voeller
Freelance Editor and Researcher, Oregon State 

Dr. Voeller got her Ph.D. from UCLA. Her dissertation, titled The Metaphysics of the Moral Law: Kant’s Deduction of Freedom, was published in the Garland Studies in Ethics series edited by Robert Nozick. Her areas of specialization as a philosopher are in moral theory, environmental ethics, metaphysics, and Kant. As an editor and research assistant, she has worked on a wide variety of topics in addition to the foregoing, including: evolution of meaning, epistemology, philosophy of logic and mathematics, and philosophy of language. She has broad interests in the sciences, including: ecology, evolution, paleontology, anthropology, biology, and physics.

Past Faculty Members

Austen Clark
Emertius Professor, Philosophy, University of Connecticut
Dr. Clark specializes in philosophy of psychology, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind. He has published monographs on reductionism, sensory qualities, and sentience with Oxford University Press. He is recently interested in psychological models of color vision and motor control as avenues into the mind-body problem.

Peter Gordon
Professor, Psychology, UNC-Chapel Hill
Peter Gordon’s work focuses primarily on the psychology of language, though his interests in that topic are very broad. Currently, he is focusing on several topics related to the higher levels of language comprehension. These include: the nature of the memory processes involved in understanding complex sentences, the identification of universal and language-specific processes in language comprehension, and the use of ERPs and fMRI to understand the relation between the brain mechanisms used for processing words in isolation and in meaningful context.

Douglas Long
Professor Emeritus, Philosophy, UNC-Chapel Hill
Professor Long specializes in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and metaphysics. He has published papers on a variety of topics, including persons, action, the mind-body problem, the concept of the human body, knowledge of other minds, and skepticism. Recent work has focused on the special role played by animate behavior with respect to the concept of mind and in supporting mental attributions. Sample publications include: “The Philosophical Concept of a Human Body,” Philosophical Review (1964); “The Bodies of Persons,” Journal of Philosophy (1974); “Agents, Mechanisms, and Other Minds,” in Body, Mind, and Method, Gustafson and Tapscott eds. (1979); The Self-Defeating Character of Scepticism,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (1992); “Why Machines Can Neither Think Nor Feel,” in Language, Mind, and Arted. by Jamieson (1994); “Avowals and First-Person Privilege” (with Dorit Bar-On, 2001); “Why Life is Necessary for Mind: The Significance of Animate Behavior” in Self, Language, and World: Problems from Kant, Sellars, and Rosenberg: in Memory of Jay F. Rosenberg, O’Shea and Rubenstein, eds. (2010).

Dean Pettit
Formerly ECOM's Associate Director
Data Scientist (Natural Language Processing) at First Databank
Dean Pettit has research interests in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and epistemology. He is working now on the relationship between linguistic understanding and perceptual knowledge.

Past Student Members

Aryn Conrad
Graduate Student, Philosophy, Duke University
Aryn is currently a graduate student in Philosophy at Duke, and concurrently working on a JD at Stanford Law School. Her philosophical interests include Philosophy of Biology, Function, Cultural Evolution, Moral Psychology, and Aesthetics. Her legal interests include Tort Law, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Comparative Law, Legal History, and Law and Neuroscience.

Corey Cusimano
Research Assistant, Brown University
Corey graduated recently from UNC with a degree in philosophy and psychology, and a minor in cognitive science. His philosophical interests include philosophy of mind, ethics, metaethics, epistemology, and moral psychology. He also has interests in neuroscience, psycholinguistics, and experimental philosophy.  He is currently a lab manager and research assistant in the Sentence and Discourse Processing Lab at Brown University, working with Laura Kertz.

Mike Deigan
Graduate Student, Philosophy, Yale University
Mike is primarily interested in philosophy of language, mind, linguistics, and psychology. He is also interested in the history of early modern philosophy (especially Hume) and early analytic philosophy. Outside philosophy, he is interested in linguistics and psycholinguistics and works in Peter Gordon’s Psycholoinguistic Lab at UNC. He graduated last Spring from UNC with a major in philosophy and linguistics and a minor in cognitive science.

Hanna Gunn
Mellon Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University
Hanna's interests include philosophy of mind (phenomenal consciousness, theory of mind, semantic and pragmatic theories of meaning for humans and non-human animals, belief), philosophy of language (pragmatics), and cognitive science generally. Her honours thesis was on current critiques of strong representational theories of mind (like those of Dretske and Tye.) She has also worked on pragmatic meaning and illocutionary silencing.

JJ Lang
Graduate Student, Philosophy, Stanford University, 
JJ graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013 with a major in philosophy and a minor in women's and gender studies.  His interests in philosophy include: logic, language, and examining ways in which logic and language can be used to better understand and teach issues in feminism.  Outside of philosophy, JJ is a volunteer at the Compass Center for Women and Families, an avid chess player, and music director for WXYC-Chapel Hill, UNC's student-run radio station.

Miroslav Losonsky
Former Graduate Student, Philosophy, UNC-Chapel Hill
Miroslav is primarily interested in meaning, normativity, 'normativity', rule-following, and so on.

Charles Olbert
Graduate Student, Clinical Psychology, Fordham University
Charles graduated with a BA in philosophy from UNC in 2005. He subsequently worked as a research coordinator in the clinical program of the Department of Psychology studying social cognition in psychotic disorders. He is interested in various issues in, including the overlaps between, philosophy of mind and epistemology.  In Fall 2012, he began graduate study in the clinical psychology doctoral program at Fordham University, studying the mathematical coherence of psychiatric diagnostic category criteria and the empirical coherence of those criteria sets as they occur in populo.

Thomas Pendlebury
Graduate Student, Philosophy, Harvard University
Thomas' primary interests include: the philosophy of language; metaphysics and epistemology, broadly construed; and the theory and metatheory of linguistics. He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with majors in Philosophy and Linguistics.

Russell Richie
Post-Doctoral Researcher, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Russell was a graduate student in Psychological Sciences at UConn from 2011 to 2017. He is interested in cognitive science, particularly the dynamics of language and culture. He is now a post-doctoral researcher working with Drs. Jonah Berger and Robert Meyer at the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania.