headshotNaomi Caselli, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Deaf Studies and Deaf Education Programs at Boston University.  She studies how language deprivation affects how people learn and process ASL signs. She earned a joint PhD in Psychology and Cognitive Science from Tufts University, as well as an Ed.M. in Deaf Education and an M.A. in Psychology from Boston University. 

Lab Manager


Erin Spurgeon, MA NIC is a Nationally Certified Interpreter for the Deaf based in Boston, Massachusetts and graduated with a Masters in Interpretation from Gallaudet University.  She has worked Deaf research laboratories with scientists Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto at Gallaudet University, Dr. Karen Emmorey at San Diego State University and the Rochester Institute of Technology with Dr. Peter Hauser.

Research Staff


Ethan Hartzell, BS Ethan Hartzell is a graduate from Tufts University in Cognitive and Brain Sciences. He has previously worked at the Tufts Center for Cognitive Studies as a research assistant on the Central Taurus Sign Language project with Dr. Rabia Ergin and Prof. Ray Jackendoff. He is interested in the representation of language in the brain, emerging languages, and computational linguistics.

Doctorate Students


Anna Lim Franck, MA is a first year student in the Doctor of Education in Language and Literacy Education: ASL/Deaf Education program at Boston University. She graduated with a Master’s degree in Linguistics from Gallaudet University. She has worked on Haskins Laboratory’s ASL SLAAASh (Sign Language Acquisition, Annotation, Archiving and Sharing) project for linguists Drs. Diane Lillo-Martin and Julie Hochgesang. She is interested in research on L2 pedagogy/acquisition of Deaf learners and educational issues in bilingualism in Deaf classrooms.

downloadErin Finton, MA is a doctoral student in the Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. She earned an Ed.M. in Adult Education from the University of Toronto and spent the last six years before coming to Boston teaching English to Deaf students at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. She studies language deprivation in adult populations and specifically looks at L2 acquisition in Deaf adults. She is particularly interested in researching and developing curricula and interventions to remediate the effects of language deprivation past the critical period for language acquisition..

Graduate Students

15241945_10210035712902787_7998452255536586343_nTali Cowen is a graduate student in the Deaf Education program at Boston University. Tali is interested in American Sign Language phonology as well as the language acquisition process for Deaf children.


Me - ESA'sChelsea Hammond is a student in the Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, studying Education of the Deaf (EdM). She plans to become a teacher of Deaf+ students, specifically Deaf students with autism spectrum disorders. She is particularly interested in autonomy and language and literacy skill acquisition in early childhood for Deaf children with disabilities.

294a75fAmy Mulkey is a second year graduate student in the Deaf Education Program at Boston University. She has a B.S., in Deaf Education from The University of Texas at Austin. Amy plans to become a teacher of the Deaf post graduation. Amy is interested in the process of language acquisition for Deaf children.

294a75fOdun Akintomide is a second year graduate student at Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, pursuing a masters degree in Deaf Education. He is interested in language acquisition of deaf children.


294a75fEmily Smith is a second year graduate student in the Deaf Education program at Boston University. Emily graduated from the College of the Holy Cross with a bachelors degree in Deaf Education. She plans to become a teacher of the Deaf after graduation, and is interested in how Deaf and hard of hearing children acquire language and literacy skills in early childhood.


294a75fSaúl Villameriel is a collaborator from the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language (BCBL, Spain) and visiting scholar at the LEX Lab. Saúl is a linguist and a Spanish Sign language Interpreter with a Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience of Language from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU, Spain) and the BCBL. He is completing a PhD in sign language processing supervised by Dr. Manuel Carreiras and Dr. Brendan Costello.

294a75fMegan Canne is a graduate of the Deaf Education program at Boston University. Megan is interested in language deprivation and acquisition in deaf children. 


DSC_0757Stephanie Pennetti graduated from the Deaf Education program at Boston University. She also completed her BA at Boston University in Elementary education. She is now a full time teacher at the Learning Center for the Deaf. 

Email if you are interested in joining our research team!