Stephan C. Meylan, Ph.D.

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I am a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Computational Psycholinguistics Lab (PI: Dr. Roger Levy) in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT who studies language learning and language processing. From 2018 to 2019, I was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Bergelson Lab (PI: Dr. Elika Bergelson) in the department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University, where I still hold a postdoctoral appointment. Since 2019, I have been funded by an NIH F32 grant to better understand English-learning children’s earliest word composition as a collaboration between the above two labs.

In 2018, I completed my Ph.D. in the Computational Cognitive Science Lab at UC Berkeley (Advisor: Dr. Tom Griffiths), focusing on understanding language learning and language processing with probabilistic models. Before that, I worked as a post-bacalaurreate research assistant at Stanford, a data scientist at a crowdsourcing startup, and as a geospatial data analyst at the U.S. Geological Survey.

My primary research goals are:

  1. To understand how kids learn language, especially the origins and uses of abstract linguistic knowledge in early development
  2. To reimagine language acquisition as fundamentally goal-driven and motoric, and to understand the contributions of adult inference to children realizing their goals
  3. To understand how adults robustly understand language through rich multi-modal models of the world, and in turn use language to revise those models
  4. To understand how languages are shaped by cognitive constraints, especially the need for efficient realtime prediction

See Publications and Research Topics for more details.

With the exception of the occasional talk or publication thread on Twitter, you won’t find me on social media—I left in 2012 after deciding I didn’t really like the vision on offer. I spend my non-academic time doing large format film photography, running a clandestine visual+literary arts collective, backpacking (esp. the Sierras), reading cultural criticism, hosting frighteningly frequent dinner parties (I have a standing offer to cook anything anyone brings me), and tending to my unruly jungle of houseplants. I use he/him pronouns.