Natasha Abner

Congratulations to Linguistics Professor Natasha Abner on her recent promotion to Associate Professor with tenure. Dr. Abner joined the U-M Linguistics Department in 2017. She is also the Director of the Sign Language & Multi-Modal Communication Lab. Professor Abner studies the structure of human language from the sign/word level to the structure of sentences and meaning. Her research encompasses the study of the structure, cognitive properties, emergence, acquisition and variation across sign languages. Her research contributions are well illustrated in Abner et al. 2019, which received the award of Best Paper in Language, the flagship journal of the Linguistic Society of America. Professor Abner has expanded our curriculum with new courses on sign languages and gesture, and on the study of disabilities, deafness and language. She has developed and taught multiple undergraduate and graduate courses in the department including “Sign Language Linguistics'' and “Language Genesis Across Modalities.” Her collaborative, student-centered approach has offered substantial opportunities for students to engage in individualized projects in all her courses. Dr. Abner also shows an extraordinary involvement with service within and outside the department, undertaking substantial leadership in activities driven by her effort to help marginalized communities.

As a corollary to Natasha Abner’s promotion to Associate Professor, she received the 2023 Class of 1923 Memorial Teaching Award for outstanding undergraduate teaching. The Class of 1923 Memorial Teaching Award is conferred to professors who have demonstrated outstanding teaching during their first years as faculty and whose achievements foretell a promising career as a scholar, teacher, and mentor. This is a prestigious honor that is awarded to only four recipients each year from among faculty promoted from assistant professor to associate professor with tenure.