About Natalie

A lifelong love of language inspired me to major in linguistics. In my time as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago however, I realized that what I was really fascinated with was the remarkable and innumerable ways human beings effortlessly communicate with one another — with or without language. For my PhD, I worked with Dr. Susan Goldin-Meadow and Dr. Marisa Casillas in UChicago’s department of Comparative Human Development, allowing me to craft an interdisciplinary approach to my research. I borrow from psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, and sociology to study the development of pragmatics as a social, interactive and contextualized phenomenon that continues to change in form and function from infancy to adulthood.

But I’m also a real person!

I do other stuff outside of work, like playing video games, bingeing1 Dropout, and taking on far too ambitious baking and knitting projects.

For the first ~18 years of my life I thought I was going to be a professional ballet dancer. Tragically I had neither the feet nor the heart. I stayed very involved in college just for fun, and I still teach class from time to time.

I bake cool stuff.

I knit cool stuff.

I love puzzles and games, video or otherwise, and as of July 2024 have a 1503 day NYT Crossword streak.

As you can see, I share many of these interests with my cat Audrey. Audrey is, objectively, a very good cat.

My preferred way of blurring work/life boundaries is with my shrug collection.

Natalie’s wisdom

Here’s some unsolicited advice if you made it this far:

  1. Watch Community. Priority #1.
  2. Try a cryptic crossword from the New Yorker.2
  3. (Re)read The Phantom Tollbooth.
  4. Always use lynel weapons to kill lynels in Zelda games.
  5. Listen to Behind the Bastards and Sawbones.
  6. Cancel Netflix and subscribe to Dropout.tv (start with Game Changer).
  7. Save the pangolins!
  8. Up your baking game with 52 Weeks of Baking challenges.
  9. Go to one of the free, all-level (genuinely all levels!) adult classes offered on campus every week by University Ballet of Chicago or attend one of their two annual full-length ballets.
  10. Come to my office hours and talk to me about any of the above! (Or like, psychology and academia I guess.)


  1. Fun fact: there’s no correct way to spell the present progressive form of “binge.”↩︎

  2. Bonus crossword-related tip: The NYT publishes a daily Wordplay column about the crossword. The column is fine, but the comments section is spectacular. Someone give me funding to do a digital ethnography of this incredible nerd microcosm.↩︎