New Ph.D. Rachel Elizabeth Weissler '16 Making an Impact as a Public Scholar

June 24, 2021

Anassa Kata to Rachel Elizabeth Weissler '16 whose dissertation defense earlier this month at the University of Michigan, where she was enrolled in the Linguistics Department, drew an online audience of more than 100 people and accolades on Twitter like the below:



Go to Twitter to read the thread.

Rachel's dissertation is titled “Leveraging African-American English Knowledge: Cognition and Multidialectal Processing,” which she hopes "contributes to further understanding of how social information interfaces with cognitive processing, and shows how expectations may be formed depending on the perceived identity of a voice."

However, even before her successful defense Rachel was using her research to help educate the broader public through her work with the podcast A Way with Words, providing insights to journalists, and other endeavors, including the video below, "What People Get Wrong About African-American English," produced as part of Otherwords, a new PBS web series.

Rachel is set to begin a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Oregon where she will be working across the departments of psychology and linguistics, as well as with the Black studies program. While there, Rachel plans to publish her dissertation chapters as articles, gain new skills from the linguistics and psychology labs, and she'll be teaching the course "Language and Power" in spring 2022.

"Bryn Mawr College profoundly changed my life," says Rachel. "It was there that I was able to not only discover my passions but also learned that I could pursue these passions in my career. I am grateful for the faculty and staff who encouraged and helped guide me on the journey through college, especially Dr. Brook Lillehaugen, Dr. Marissa Golden, and Assistant Dean Vanessa Christman. I also want to say that I found the function of the Dean’s office to be especially wonderful for helping students navigate their interests and future paths. As I think about my ideal career, I definitely see myself one day hopefully in a role similar to that of the deans at Bryn Mawr."

Rachel majored in linguistics and political science at Bryn Mawr.

Rachel credits much of ther success to taking part in the Mellon Mays Undergrduate Fellowship program at Bryn Mawr:

"I would love to be involved with the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program wherever I land, as that program was foundational in showing me that I could conduct individual research and go to graduate school."

Check out the below video Rachel made for the College as a senior!