I am from the flat fen country of eastern England. I first came to the US in 1990 for what was supposed to be a 10-month stay. I’m still here. I’ve been based in the Washington DC area since 2000.

I mostly do just two closely related things.

First, I do research on psycholinguistics. I am impressed by the rich structure of human language, especially the countless details that we’re not consciously aware of. I want to know how children ever manage to learn this. And I want to know how the structures are encoded and manipulated, in cognitive and neuroscientific terms. The search for answers to these questions has led me to work with many different tools, languages, and fields of research. Recently we have gotten a lot of mileage from studying linguistic illusions.

Second, I am an evangelist for Language Science. Language is hugely important to humans, but it rarely features among priority areas for universities or for science in general. I am working with our wonderful community of faculty and students to change that. We believe that the basic science of language, and applications in education, technology and health all benefit from closer interaction — it’s easier to fix a system when we understand how it is supposed to work. The Maryland Language Science Center is the latest stage in our efforts to show that it’s genuinely useful when you put together the pieces of language science, for science and for society alike.

 
 
CV: CV

Degrees

  • BA
    Oxford University (1990)
  • PhD
    MIT (1996)
Research Methods
Electrophysiology
Neuroimaging
Behavior
Linguistics
Research Interests
Language
  • Campus
    Service
    Director, Maryland Language Science Center (2013-present)
  • International
    Service
    Editor, Annual Reviews in Linguistics (2021-2025)

Former Students

  • Student Name
    Nina Kazanina (2005, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Senior Lecturer in Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol (UK)
  • Student Name
    Masaya Yoshida (2006, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Associate Professor of Linguistics, Northwestern University
  • Student Name
    Leticia Pablos (2006, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Research Associate, Institute of Linguistics Leiden University (Holland)
  • Student Name
    Takuya Goro (2007, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Associate Professor, Tsuda College (Japan)
  • Student Name
    Matthew Wagers (2008, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Associate Professor of Linguistics, UC Santa Cruz
  • Student Name
    Clare Stroud (2008, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Senior Program Officer, National Academies (Institute of Medicine)
  • Student Name
    Ellen Lau (2009, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Maryland
  • Student Name
    Akira Omaki (2010, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    (deceased) Previously, Assistant Professor of Linguistics, University of Washington
  • Student Name
    Brian Dillon (2011, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Student Name
    Wing Yee Chow (2013, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Associate Professor of Linguistics, University College London (UK)
  • Student Name
    Shevaun Lewis (2013, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Research Assistant Professor, University of Maryland Language Science Center
  • Student Name
    Dave Kush (2013, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Toronto
  • Student Name
    Dan Parker (2014, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Associate Professor of Linguistics, College of William and Mary
  • Student Name
    Sol Lago
    Current Position
    Assistant Professor, University of Frankfurt (Germany)
  • Student Name
    Dustin Chacón (2015, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Research Scientist, NYU Abu Dhabi
  • Student Name
    Shota Momma (2016, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Assistant Professor of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Student Name
    Allyson Ettinger (2018, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Assistant Professor of Linguistics, University of Chicago
  • Student Name
    Anton Malko (2018, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Postdoctoral Researcher, CSIRO, Sydney, Australia
  • Student Name
    Lara Ehrenhofer (2018, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Science policy, Germany
  • Student Name
    Nick Huang (2019, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Postdoc, National University of Singapore and University of Connecticut
  • Student Name
    Phoebe Gaston (2020, Linguistics)
    Current Position
    Postdoc, University of Connecticut
Colin Phillips
1413F Marie Mount Hall
Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
Email
colin [at] umd.edu
Office Hours
send email