Molly Flaherty, PhD                                                                                  moflaherty@davidson.edu

CV

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Davidson College. At Davidson I teach classes in Child Development, Language Learning, as well as Developmental Research Methods. Before coming to Davidson, I was a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Swarthmore College

 

In my research, I seek to better understand the developing mind by closely examining the structure of language. I also investigate the effects of one’s specific early language environment on language. I pursue these questions by studying one of the youngest languages known to science: Nicaraguan Sign Language. I also track the emergence of linguistic structure in the individual child during typical language learning. 

I was formerly a British Academy Newton International Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. In my continuing work with Simon Kirby, we seek to replicate conditions of natural language creation in a more controlled laboratory environment. By doing this we can examine the effects of individual factors that shape language with more control than is possible in the natural world. 

I received my PhD in Psychology in 2014 from the University of Chicago, where I pursued questions of language emergence in Nicaragua. In my dissertation work with Susan Goldin-Meadow, I explored the emergence of argument structure in Nicaraguan homesign and Nicaraguan Sign Language. In my postdoctoral work, I investigated the role of gestural input to Nicaraguan Sign Language. In work with Daniel Casasanto, I also explored the acquisition of number language and its effects of numeracy in non-numerate signing adults. 

Before my PhD studies in Chicago, I earned an MSc (with distinction) in The Evolution of Language and Cognition from the University of Edinburgh. I earned my BA in Psychology from Columbia University and completed my honors thesis work with Herbert Terrace and Lisa Son. I began working in Nicaragua as an undergraduate and then lab manager in Ann Senghas's lab at Barnard College. 

Deaf adults converse.
Deaf adults converse.
At the school in Managua.
At the school in Managua.
Young Deaf adults in Managua.
Young Deaf adults in Managua.