Featured Fellow: John Duff

Beth Colvin
Feb 18, 2019
Duff John_cropped

Phi Kappa Phi awards nearly $1 million yearly to deserving students and professionals. The Society awards fifty Fellowships of $8,500 each, six at $20,000 each, and two at $35,000 each to members entering the first year of graduate or professional study. John Duff, a 2018 Marcus L. Urann Fellowship recipient, is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts in linguistics, classical languages and psychology.

He’s always been fascinated by language, unsurprising, he says, since he grew up in a family of teachers.

“Nevertheless, I never would have predicted then that I could use computational methods to search for connections between rhythm and meaning in Latin poetry, or that I’d be traveling to the borders of the Middle East to study and rebuild literacy for a dying minority language,” he said.

He will use the fellowship award to begin Ph.D. study in linguistics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, investigating how humans interpret narrative storytelling in the brain, an extension of the work he began with his undergraduate senior honors thesis.

“By continuing similar work at the intersection of linguistics and psychology with the broader traditions of the humanities, and especially by examining the language patterns of speakers and storytellers across the globe, living and dead, I ultimately hope to increase our understanding of the cognitive realities behind the human tradition of narrative,” he said.

Interested in applying for a Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship? Click here to learn more and apply by April 15.