Rachel Walker, a professor of linguistics, joined the USC faculty in 1998. She earned her B.A. and M.A. at the University of Toronto and her Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Before undertaking her master’s degree, she completed a certificate in teaching English as a second language and taught ESL at the University of Toronto.
She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses, including a General Education course called Language and Mind, graduate courses and seminars in linguistic theory with emphasis on phonology, and a seminar that guides students through writing their master’s thesis or Ph.D. screening paper and preparing that work for conference presentation.
Her research concentrates on phonological theory, for which the goal is to understand the sound patterns of speech and the mental representations that underlie them. Her work focuses on patterns in language that restrict the distribution of consonants and vowels, and it probes the temporal and spatial relations that constitute organizing principles in such patterns. Among her publications are two books: Nasalization, Neutral Segments, and Opacity Effects (2000) and Vowel Patterns in Language (2011). She has contributed chapters to the Handbook of Phonological Theory (2011) and the Blackwell Companion to Phonology (2011), as well as numerous journal articles. She serves on the editorial boards of Natural Language and Linguistic Theory and Language and Linguistics Compass. She has served on the executive committee of the Linguistic Society of America and is a member of the executive board of the USC chapter of the Phi Kappa Phi All-University Honor Society.
She is the recipient of a USC-Mellon Mentoring Award in the category of Faculty Mentoring Graduate Students, and as a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz, she was honored with the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.
As a CET fellow, she is especially interested in strategies to get students actively engaging with subject matter during class, in an interactive learning environment. She also has interest in promoting dialogue on training graduate students for the academic profession with focus on demystifying areas of academic life that are essential to success but often not taught in courses.