Lab Director

Kara Morgan-Short
Associate Professor of Spanish Linguistics and Psychology
Director of the Cognition of Second Language Acquisition
1706 University Hall

Informed by the fields of linguistics, cognitive psychology and neuroscience, Kara Morgan-Short’s research aims to elucidate the linguistic and cognitive processes underlying late-learned second language acquisition and use. Further, her research explores how these processes may be moderated by the effects or interactions of factors external to the learner, such as the context under which a second language is learned, and factors internal to the learner, such as learners’ level of proficiency or learners’ individual cognitive abilities (e.g., working memory, declarative/procedural memory, attention). These issues are examined using a set of complementary behavioral (e.g., accuracy on spoken language tasks) and electrophysiological (event-related potentials, ERPs) approaches.

For more information and downloadable versions of available papers, please see Kara Morgan-Short's Academia and ResearchGate pages.

Graduate Students


Alicia Luque-Ferreras
Ph.D. Student
Hispanic Linguistics
Second Language Acquisition
Website: ResearchGate

Alicia's research interests include adult second language development and processing. In particular, she is interested in (a) exploring the role that individual differences in executive function and working memory play in facilitating adult second language acquisition by using both behavioral and neurocognitive (event-related, ERP) measures; (b) examining how external factors to the learner, such as type of instruction or learning context, interact to facilitate or hinder adult second language development; and (c) understanding the role that bilingualism plays on cognitive and linguistic abilities throughout adulthood. Before coming to UIC, Alicia completed an M.A. in Advanced English Studies at the University of Málaga (Spain), an M.Sc. in Psychobiology and Cognitive Neuroscience at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain) and an M.A. in Spanish and Certificate in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) at the University of Oregon.


Irene Finestrat-Martínez

Ph.D. Student
Hispanic Linguistics
Second Language Acquisition

Irene is interested in examining the role of individual differences (IDs) in adult second language acquisition and how this connection is modulated by the training conditions under which the language is learned. Specifically, she is interested in the role played by learners’ mastery of their first language, both from the point of view of performance (using behavioral data) and language processing (ERPs). Irene graduated with honors from the University of Alicante (Spain) and she is currently pursuing an M.A. in Hispanic Linguistics at UIC. 

david auberger

David Abugaber-Bowman
Ph.D. Student
Hispanic Linguistics
Second Language Acquisition

David is interested in how experimental methods from cognitive psychology (ERPs, eye-tracking, behavioral experiments, etc.) can inform the field of second language acquisition, with particular regard to issues like L1-L2 transfer; the role of word frequency in the L2 input; the potential for non-linguistic context to prime for a specific language; the effects of advanced age on L2 processing; and various questions tied to L3 acquisition. Prior to coming to UIC, David received a BA in linguistics with a concentration in Latin American Studies from Princeton University and an MPhil in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics from the University of Cambridge.



Josh Buffington
Ph.D. Student
Cognitive Psychology
Website: ResearchGate

Josh's research interests include investigating the contributions of long-term memory systems to second language acquisition, as well as understanding the role that different types of instruction play in affecting the cognitive strategies that learners use to acquire a second language. In particular, he is interested in work that will clarify the contributions made by declarative and procedural memory in second language acquisition, as well as understanding how differences in the content of instruction affect outcomes in second language acquisition. Prior to coming to UIC, Josh completed an M.A. in linguistics at Cornell University, and a B.A. in English with minors in Psychology and Spanish at Texas A&M University.


Briana Villegas

Ph.D. Student

Hispanic Linguistics
Second Language Acquisition

Briana is interested in researching the effects different training conditions [i.e., explicit (classroom-like) and implicit (immersion-like)] may have on the processing and development of adult second language. More specifically, she is interested in examining the interaction between training condition, linguistic complexity and individual differences (IDs) through measures of performance (behavioral data) and language processing (ERPs). Before returning to UIC (where she completed her undergraduate degree), Briana completed a M.A. in Language Acquisition in Multilingual Contexts from the University of the Basque Country (Spain).

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Ana Hernandez, Pre-medicine track; Biology major; Spanish minor.
Debra Sodimu, Pre-medicine track; Psychology major, Biological Sciences & Art minor; Honors College.
Justyna Mastalerz
, Psychology major; Biological Sciences minor.
Krishna Bhatia
, Pre-medicine track; Neuroscience major.
Nadia Ahmed,
Neuroscience major; Honors College.
Sahana Reddy
, Biological Sciences major; Disabilities and Human Development minor; Honors College.
Tariq Ghazaw
, Biology & Psychology major; Honors College.
Yasiel Lacalle
, Pre-medicine track; Psychology major; Biological Sciences minor.

CogSLA Alumni

Kate Brill-Schuetz, Ph.D.
Instructor of Psychology
Lake Forest College
Website: ResearchGate

Bernard Issa, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Spanish Linguistics
Department of Modern Foreign Languages & Literatures
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Website: & ResearchGate

Mandy Faretta-Stutenberg, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Spanish Linguistics
Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures
Northern Illinois University
Website: & Academia & ResearchGate

Laura Bartlett, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Lecturer of Spanish, University of Chicago

Sara Fernandez-Cuenca, M.A.
Ph.D. Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Hispanic Linguistics

Janire Zalbidea, M.A.
Ph.D. Student, Georgetown University
Spanish Applied Linguistics Linguistics