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Graduate student Juliana Cruz Martinez awarded a Mellon Mays Graduate Studies Enhancement Fellowship!

Congratulations to Juliana Cruz Martinez who was awarded a Mellon Mays Graduate Studies Enhancement Fellowship (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation). She will use the funding to support travel to Puerto Rico during Summer 2020 to collect data with adult speakers on their variable pluralization of existential 'haber'. 

Assistant Teaching Professor of Spanish Borja Gutiérrez featured in Penn State News!

Borja Gutiérrez, an Assistant Teaching Professor of Spanish, has recently been featured discussing Alternative Breaks (a program designed to facilitates student-led service trips throughout the academic year focused on promoting social justice, fostering active citizenship, and building community) in Penn State News. 

If you are interested in getting involved or would like to encourage your students to participate, you can contact , or the of Alternative Breaks for more information.


Congratulations to our promoted faculty!

Congratulations to our promoted faculty, who were recently featured in Penn State News

Congratulations to Professor Matthew Marr, who is this year's winner of the James Whiston Prize for his article "(Im)mobility at the Movies: el paro, Property and Prosthesis in Álex de la Iglesia’s 'La chispa de la vida' (2011)"

His article was published in the April 2019 issue of the Bulletin of Spanish Visual Studies. The prize is awarded by the Editors for the most outstanding article in any subject area published in the Bulletin of Spanish Studies or the sibling journal the Bulletin of Spanish Visual Studies.
The panel judged his article to be the most innovative and intellectually rigorous of those nominated, with the potential to become an essential point of reference in the field.

Congratulations to Professor Giuli Dussias, who has been awarded a 2019 Faculty Scholar Medal!

The Faculty Scholar Medal is one of the highest honors that Penn State confers on the most outstanding researchers.

Dussias approaches the study of language as a social science. The learning of language, including speed of learning, formulation of accents and depth of vocabulary, is influenced by social interactions and exposure to that language. The evolution of a language is also influenced by that process.

Dussias is a leader in creating a new field of learning, one that differs from the traditional study of linguistics, which analyzes language meaning, evolution, phonetics and grammar. Dussias’ work is changing the way we study language, nominators said.

Dussias researches people who are learning a second language because she is interested in knowing how that second language influences the use of the first. Her research shows that extensive use of a second language can change first language syntax and usage. This finding demonstrates that there is far greater brain plasticity throughout the lifespan than previously understood.

She’s also interested in learning how age affects the language learning process. Can adult second language learners achieve the same mastery of a second language as young learners? she asks in her research. “The common wisdom in the field was that the answer was ‘no,’” said a nominator. “However, Dussias has shown through her research that adults can master grammar and attain near native fluency just as younger learners can.”

Dussias also studies ‘code-switching,’ a common feature of bilingual discourse whereby bilinguals switch languages right in the middle of spoken or written sentences. Her research shows that code-switching is governed by rules that are not necessarily derived from either language. That finding “provides a fresh perspective on what bilingual speakers view as possible switch points in bilingual speech,” a nominator said. For Dussias, the multilingual speaker is seeing as a model for understanding the way that language experience shapes the mind and the brain.

“To answer questions like this, Dussias has developed experimental methods that use eye-tracking and measure brain activity while bilingual speakers undertake specific kinds of tasks,” a nominator said. “These methods have transformed the research that bilingualism scholars do, allowing much broader generalization about the bilingual brain in different social contexts.”

Congratulations to five outstanding SIP instructors for their promotion to Associate Teaching Professor

Michele Rossi- Promoted to Associate Teaching Professor of Italian
Joseph Bauman- Promoted to Associate Teaching Professor of Spanish
Rosa Osborne- Promoted to Assistant Teaching Professor of Spanish
Misty Pursel- Promoted to Assistant Teaching Professor of Spanish
Miguel Ramírez-Bernal- Promoted to Assistant Teaching Professor of Spanish

Congratulations to Sarah Townsend, whose article "The Spectral Stage of Édouard Glissant's Monsieur Toussaint" was awarded the Modern Drama Outstanding Article prize for 2018.

Modern Drama (University of Toronto Press) is the most prominent journal in English to focus on dramatic literature.

Congratulations to Spanish Graduate Students for having passed their MA Exams!!

Spanish graduate students Ricardo Andrade, Trevor Bero, Estilita Cassiani Obeso, Lindsey Chandler, Juliana Cruz Martínez, Carlos Echeverría, Gustavo Herrera-Díaz, Victoria Jansen, Javier López Seoane, Michelle McGowan, Deyanira Moya, Ashley Pahis, Gabriela Puscama, and Sonya Trawick have passed their MA comprehensive exams. 

The Supportive Teaching Enrichment Program (STEP) Grant

Application link:

The Supportive Teaching Enrichment Program (STEP) Grant is designed to assist the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese teaching faculty in their teaching development. The STEP Grant is offered as a unique opportunity to support professional development activities and pedagogically-oriented endeavors during the academic year. This grant is intended to defray the cost of professional development experiences. Grants will be awarded throughout the year up to $1,000.

To ensure receipt, please notify the Chair of Professional Development Committee, Xin Liu (, after submitting your proposal via the Google Form. Please make sure to submit your proposal at least one month in advance of your professional development event or activity.

Congratulations to Manuel Pulido Azpíroz, whose Doctoral Dissertation Research has been recommended for funding by the Linguistics Program at the National Science Foundation.

Manuel's Doctoral Dissertation Research is entitled: "Processing of L2-specific multi-word units and the impact on representation and generalization: An ERP study ". 

Congratulations to Carla Cornette, Lecturer in Italian, who successfully defended her dissertation on Friday, August 24th at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Her dissertation is entitled: "Postcolonial Pathology in the Works of Italian Postcolonial Writers: Carla Macoggi, Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, and Igiaba Scego."