Ph.D Students





Leah Adelson received her B.A. in Hispanic Studies and Anthropology from Hamilton College and an M.S. in Educational Studies from the Johns Hopkins University. While earning her B.A. she spent two semesters studying Spanish linguistics in Madrid. Prior to coming to Georgetown, she lived and worked for four years in Baltimore City teaching high school Spanish, and recently spent three months teaching English Conversation at a university in Assis, São Paulo. Her main areas of interest are L2 and L3 acquisition and foreign language pedagogy. In her free time she enjoys singing (in real life and in the shower), training for 10k races, and watching live theatre. 

Nohora A. Arrieta Fernandez


Gorka Basterretxea Santiso

Tyler Bergin


Meghan Birch is a first-year Ph. D student in the Spanish Linguistics program. She has a BA in Linguistic Studies with a Spanish minor, an MS in Translation, and she also studies French. Her main interests include L2 vocabulary acquisition, L2 reading comprehension proficiency and improvement and comparing L1 and L2 reading comprehension. She spent a semester abroad in Costa Rica, and she spent over a year in Chile teaching English. In her free time, she enjoys reading science fiction novels and watching foreign films.


Chrissy Bistline-Bonilla holds a B.A. in Spanish from Temple University (2011) and an M.S. in Spanish Linguistics from Georgetown University (2016). During her time at Temple, Chrissy spent a semester at the Universidad de Oviedo in Northern Spain. She has also spent time in Argentina and Mexico, the latter being her husband’s country of origin. Prior to attending Georgetown, Chrissy lived and worked in New York City for three years. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Spanish Linguistics, and her areas of interest include second language acquisition, computer-assisted language learning (CALL), depth of processing, and heritage language learners. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants, and taking pictures, but most of all, spending time with her husband, son, and dogs.

Lilian Bringas Silva


Y. Botello

Yoel Castillo Botello received a B.A. in Spanish with minors in French and Latin American Studies from the University of Louisville, Kentucky, in 2010. His interests primarily deal with gender relations and cultural anxiety in Peninsular literary and artistic phenomena. During his undergraduate studies, Yoel conducted research on various subjects, such as bilingualism and gender performance in the muwashshah poetic tradition of al-Andalus, ekphrasis aesthetics and feminism in the Spanish avant-garde, and the sexual politics of flamenco arts. At Georgetown, Yoel is a doctoral student in Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies and his avenues of interest continue to expand through more in-depth exposure to performance studies, bilingual and transatlantic narratives, comparative literature, critical theory, and ethnography. He is a native of Manzanillo, Cuba; and has also lived in Spain, where he studied translation, literature, and music at the Universidad de Granada (2009). Yoel enjoys dancing, independent cinema, and good coffee. His newest passion is the Portuguese language.

Leonardo V. Carvajal​


Abel Cruz Flores received his B.A. in Applied Linguistics from Portland State University in Oregon, USA. While in Oregon, Abel started working for Calico Spanish®, a Spanish language program for elementary students both in schools and at home. Upon his graduation from PSU, Abel moved to Tucson, Arizona to finish his M.A. in Hispanic Linguistics. Abel is a first year Ph.D. student in Spanish Linguistics at Georgetown. His interests include theoretical syntax in the tradition of generative grammar (and its most recent incarnation: the Minimalist Program), psycholinguistics and second language acquisition. In his spare time, Abel enjoys running and exploring new restaurants and Tequila bars in the DC area. Abel is originally from Jalisco, Mexico, and thus, his interests for studying the nature of Agave azul/verde Tequilero.


Matthew J. Dearstyne

Jafte D Robles Lomeli is a Ph.D. candidate in Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies at Georgetown University. She earned a M.A. in Spanish American Literature at University of Sonora after completing her B.A. in Hispanic Literature at the same university in Mexico. Her teaching experience includes courses on Spanish language and Latin American Literature both in the high school and the college level in Mexico, Colombia and the United States. She is interested in testimonial studies, critical theory, social anthropology and Latin American ethnography. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and walking around the city.

Gabriela DeRobles


Lucia E. Donatelli is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Spanish Linguistics. Originally from New Mexico, she received her B.A. in Hispanic Literature and Culture from Brown University, and her M.A. in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Lucia's focus is in theoretical linguistics, specifically the syntax/semantics interface. Her dissertation work compares agreement processes between the nominal and verbal domains in Romance languages, looking specifically at morphological and semantic expression of phi features. Lucia is also an active member of Georgetown's Computational Linguistics group. She is an avid runner, singer, and leader of language learning trips abroad for high-school students. More information can be found at her personal website:

Meagan Driver Photo

Meagan Y. Driver received her B.A. in Chemistry with minors in Mathematics and Spanish from New York University in 2011. During her time at NYU, she held internships at Univision and with the interpreters’ office of the Federal Court in the Southern District of New York. After teaching Chemistry and ESL in New York City, she lived and worked in Buenos Aires for a time before moving to Madrid to receive a M.A. in 2015 from New York University Madrid in Spanish and Latin American Linguistic Studies. Her research interests are in prosody and pragmatics in second language acquisition and study abroad. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, traveling, music, and reading.



Iván Andrés Espinosa Orozco is a Ph.D. candidate in Literature and Culture Studies in Spanish at Georgetown University. He earned a M.A. in Education, with a concentration in Language and Arts at Carthage College after completing his B.A. in Spanish and English from the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional in Bogotá, Colombia. He also holds an M.A. in Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His teaching experience includes EFL courses, as well as courses on Spanish language and Latin American literature both in the high school and the college level in Colombia and the United States. He is interested in critical theory, decoloniality, Andean narratives, and sound studies in Latin America. In his free time, he enjoys reading, playing (and talking about) sports, and swimming.



Tris Faulkner is a Ph.D. student in the Spanish Linguistics program. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and Literature and International Studies, as well as an M.A. in Interpreting and Translation Studies. During her undergraduate years, she participated in a six-month-long semester abroad program in Murcia, Spain. After completing her first degree, Tris returned to her home country of Jamaica to serve as the official Translator and Interpreter at the Embassy of Venezuela in Kingston. After a year and a half of serving as translator and interpreter at said Embassy, she decided to pursue graduate studies in the same field at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. She obtained a Master of Arts in Interpreting and Translation Studies after one year of study at the aforementioned University. She moved to Chile soon after graduation to serve as a full-time legal and technical translator and interpreter at a law firm in Santiago. Before working at the law firm, she taught English to students affiliated with the University of Santo Tomás. Apart from full-time translation work, Tris has also served as an independent translator for U.S. and Chilean translation companies; translating documents and audio files from English to Spanish and vice versa, as well as from Jamaican Creole to English, and vice versa. Her work as a literary translator allowed her the opportunity to work with a Spanish author in the translation of a novel from Spanish to English. Tris’ areas of interest include Semantics (with a focus on the subjunctive mood), Second Language Acquisition, and Bilingualism. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling, and trying new foods.


Xabier Fole Varela holds a BA in Audiovisual Communication from Universidad Francisco de Vitoria of Madrid, as well as an M.A. in Spanish and an M.A. in History (with a concentration in Intellectual History of the United States) from City College of New York (CUNY). After graduating, he worked as a scriptwriter and producer at NY1 Noticias (24-hour news television channel in New York City). He also worked as a fact-checker for The New York Times. His articles have appeared in publications such as Fronterad and ABC Cultural. Currently, he writes a weekly column for Faro de Vigo. His primary research interests include ideological conversion, nationalism, politics of memory, and intellectual history. 


Natalia Curto Garcia-Nieto



Maude Havenne is a PhD candidate in Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies at Georgetown University. Her primary fields of inquiry include transatlantic Hispanic literature and cinema with a special interest in the impacts of globalization on world literature & cinema. Previously, Maude was a visiting Assistant in Research at Yale University, a Belgian American Educational Foundation fellow (BAEF), and a member of the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS). Focusing particularly on Raúl Ruiz’s movies, she has collaborated with Benoît Peeters to compose Ruiz’s complete filmography in Raoul Ruiz, le Magicien (Les Impressions Nouvelles, 2015) and has published other research on Raúl Ruiz, Eduardo Halfon and cultural globalization in Honoré Champion Editions (Paris) and Revista Iberoamericana (Pittsburg). She has also worked as a publishing assistant at the Archives et Musée de la Littérature (Brussels) and is passionate about classical music (she earned a M.A. in musicology from the University of Louvain in 2016) and outdoor activities (especially climbing and skiing).


Sophie Heller is a PhD candidate in Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies. She graduated with a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College with a major in English and a minor in Spanish in 2012. Sophie is originally from Seattle, Washington but has spent the last several years living in various parts of Spain. After studying abroad in Seville, Sophie spent a year teaching English in a small fishing village in rural Cádiz province. In 2014, she moved north to pursue her master’s degree in Spanish literature at Middlebury College in Madrid.  While in Madrid, Sophie also worked with the Association for American Programs in Spain, delivering workshops and providing resources to American university students living abroad. Sophie’s interests include 18th -21st century Spanish literature and film, questions of Spanish national identity, Basque culture and film as well as comparative literature. In her free time, Sophie enjoys hiking, exploring DC and spending time with family in the Pacific Northwest and New England.



Ross M. Karlan graduated with a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania with a double major in Hispanic Studies and Cinema Studies, and a minor in Art History. As a doctoral student at Georgetown his research deals with medieval literature in Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan.  His primary interests include the History of Emotions, and his dissertation looks specifically at medieval representations of shame.  He also has an interest in gender studies, visual culture, digital humanities, and book history.  Ross has a passion for the films of David Lynch, James Bond, cooking, trivia, and is a magician.


Cristi Killingsworth received her B.A. in Spanish from Illinois State University in 2013. Durning her time there, she spent a year at Pontifical Catholic University of Perú where she took her first linguistics classes and decided to continue her studies. She is currently working on her dissertation about the impacts of working memory, proficiency, and motivation on the transfer of writing skills from English to Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, baking, exploring the city, and doing volunteer work.


Montserrat Lau Photo
Montserrat Lau Montserrat Castellá Serrés Lau graduated from Wittenberg University with a B.A. Summa Cum Laude in Spanish. While at Wittenberg she started a Spanish column in The Torch, the Student’s Newspaper. She earned a M.A. at Ohio University in 2007. Montserrat presented “Burgeses y tenderos: El auca del senyor Esteve de Santiago Rusiñol” at Ohio State University (2006), and  “El amante bilingüe: Amor, deseo y fisura en la España de la Transición” at Oregon State University (2007). At Georgetown she is pursuing her PhD in Early Modernity Spanish Literature and presented “Ana de San Bartolome: Florecimiento y difusion Teresina en Francia y los Paises Bajos at The Renaissance Society of America (2014). She enjoys books, tertulias, acting, music, theater, arts & crafts and architecture.


Rahma Maccarone

Diego D. Maggi


Timothy McCormick is pursuing his PhD in Spanish linguistics in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. He graduated from the University of Scranton with degrees in Hispanic Studies and Latin American Studies. At Georgetown, Tim's main research has focused on psycholinguistic interactions between cognitive capacity and bilingualism, though other interests include phonological acquisition, language development during study abroad and language program development. His research has been accepted for presentation at the Second Language Research Forum, the Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, the annual meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics, and the World Congress 2017 of the International Association of Applied Linguists. Timothy has also been involved ​in the department as the Assistant Director of Advanced Intensive Spanish; as the project coordinator of Dr. Sanz's Initiative on Technology-Enhanced Learning grant, Teaching to Teach: Preparing the Future Language Teacher; as co-chair of the department's annual graduate conference, GRAPHSY from 2015-2017, and as President of the Graduate Student Organization from 2017-2018. 



Valeria Meiller is a poet, translator, and PhD candidate in Spanish and Portuguese at Georgetown University. Her dissertation, A Nation of Flesh, proposes an interspecies narrative of Argentina through the lenses of Animal Studies and New Materialism, focusing on the relationship of the nation with cattle and meat production. Her broader interests revolve around critical theory and the environmental humanities. Additionally, she is author of the Spanish poetry books El Recreo, Prueba de Soledad en el Paisaje (co-author), El Mes Raro, and the forthcoming El Libro de los Caballitos. She has also translated the work of Dorothea Lasky, Tao Lin, Noah Cicero, Megan Boyle, and David Toop from English into Spanish. Currently, she is working on her first two poetry translation projects from Spanish into English, A Year in Heaven (co-translation), and A Triptych About Water by Martín Rodríguez, the latter endorsed by a 2019 ASLE translation grant.



Juan Manuel Menjívar is originally from El Salvador, Central America. He received his B.A. in Spanish and Community and Culture from UCLA. During his time as an undergraduate, Juan Manuel volunteered at the Salvadoran Consulate of Los Angeles. His interest in Central American linguistics motivated him to apply to the Spanish Linguistics Department at Georgetown. Juan Manuel wants to focus on the linguistic aspects of the Salvadoran community in Washington D.C. He is eager to start his research involving Central American voseo, accommodation, and variation. In his spare time, Juan Manuel likes to spend time with his family and his dogs in the California sun.

J. Mendez

 Jorge Méndez-Seijas completed a BA in Spanish American Language and Literature at the Universidad de Los Andes (ULA, Venezuela), and Master’s degrees in Phonetics and Phonology (IUMP/CSIC, Spain) and Linguistics (Georgetown). Currently, Jorge is a Ph.D. candidate in the Spanish Linguistics program, where he also serves as the Interim Director of the School of Foreign Service Spanish Program. Before working at Georgetown, Jorge was a Spanish lecturer at Princeton University. Jorge’s areas of specialization are second language acquisition, phonology, heritage language education, and language program administration and evaluation.


Jeong Mun is originally from South Korea and graduated from Chonbuk National University with a degree in Spanish-Latin American Language and Literature, along with English Language and Literature. She studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. She obtained Spanish and English Teaching Licenses from the Korean Ministry of Education during her undergraduate studies, which allowed her to teach English and Spanish at a high school in her hometown. She also served as a teaching assistant at Korea University in 2013 and 2014. Jeong later completed a Master's degree in Spanish Linguistics from Korea University. During her tenure in graduate school, she worked as a research assistant for four years at the Institute of Hispanic Studies at Korea University, funded by the Ministry of Education in Korea. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Spanish Applied Linguistics. Her interests include second language acquisition, third language acquisition, multilingualism, teaching methods, acoustic phonetics, and algorithms for Artificial Intelligence. During her spare time, she enjoys playing the piano and cello, jogging, traveling, and spending time with friends.


Kevin Murphy graduated from the University of Mary Washington in 2011 with a BA in Spanish. He also obtained a license to teach PreK-12 Spanish in Virginia. After graduating, he worked as an English teacher in São Paulo, Brazil. In 2017 he obtained his MA in Spanish language and literature from the University of Delaware. During his MA studies he became interested in crime novels and how gender relations are portrayed in literature. His list of current favorite authors includes Patrícia Melo from Brazil and Claudia Piñeiro from Argentina. In his free time he enjoys dancing salsa and bachata, watching foreign films, and traveling to explore new cultures. 



Brisa Daniela Núñez García is a second year PhD student of Hispanic Literature and Culture at Georgetown University. She received her B.A. in Applied Linguistics at the Universidad Mayor de San Simón in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She also holds an M.A. in Hispanic Literature from the University of New Mexico. She is primarily interested in the 20th century Latin American Literature with an emphasis in Subaltern Studies and Testimonio during the Dictatorship because this allows alternative forms of interpreting literature from the perspective of marginalized voices. She is also interested in indigenismo in the Andes region, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, as well as Borderland Studies.



Annie Ornelles is a Ph.D. student in Hispanic Linguistics. She has a B.A. from Wake Forest University with a double major in Spanish Language and Culture and English Literature and a minor in Linguistics. During her time at Wake, she studied abroad in Salamanca and wrote her undergraduate thesis on the interaction of language policy and sociocultural factors concerning Catalan in Catalonia. After graduation, she spent four years living and working abroad as an EFL teacher, including two years in Lugo, Galicia, a year in Málaga, Andalucía, and a year in Andorra as a Fulbright Scholar. Some of her interests include language variation, Spanish in contact with Galician and Catalan, bilingualism/multilingualism, language and identity, and syntax. In her free time, she enjoys playing soccer, painting, and hiking. 


Alex Pereira


Filipe Pereira de Jesus Flores is a PhD Student in Spanish Linguistics program. Originally from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, he received his BA in Lusophone Linguistics & Literature and Teaching Portuguese as L1/L2 from Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) in 2011. During his time at UFBA, he was a Research Assistant at the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories Project, developing its Brazilian Portuguese version. Then, he was a Teaching Assistant in Portuguese Phonetics and Phonology. He also was a Portuguese L2 instructor and Celpe-Bras Examiner (the official Brazilian Portuguese Proficiency exam for non-native speakers of Brazilian Portuguese) at UFBA Portuguese Extension Program. After graduating, he moved to Mexico City where he worked at Casa do Brasil no México as an Instructors’ coordinator, Portuguese L2 instructor and Celpe-Bras Examiner. At Georgetown, his interests are on third language acquisition and phonology.


Daniel Riggs is a PhD candidate in linguistics here at Georgetown. Before taking an interest in language Daniel was a professional musician since the age of 16. A few years after completing a Bachelor in Percussion from the Manhattan School of Music, he moved to Guatemala to study Spanish in the Proyecto Lingüístico Quetzalteco de Español. Upon returning to New York, he briefly taught in New York City Public Schools as an NYC Teaching Fellow, but soon switched to the post-secondary level and earned a Master of Spanish from the City College of New York, teaching Spanish there and Portuguese at LaGuardia Community College. At Georgetown he has earned an MS in Linguistics, teaches Portuguese and Spanish, and is currently working on his PhD thesis, which investigates orthography's influence on second language phonology. Daniel has an incredibly patient wife Josephine and an impatient toddler Xavier, has become a bit too involved in computer programming, and still performs music regularly, especially Brazilian music, since there's usually someone grilling during rehearsals.



Willyam Thums received his B.A. in Portuguese and English Language and Literatures from the Faculdade Porto-Alegrense (2009) in Brazil. During the academic year of 2012-13, he taught Portuguese, and Brazilian Literature and Culture at Michigan State University, where he was a visiting Fulbright Scholar. He holds a M.A. in Brazilian Literature and Cultural Studies from the University of New Mexico (2015), and a M.S. in Spanish from Georgetown University (2017). On campus, he is one of the Celpe-Bras certified examiners, as well as the Portuguese proficiency language examiner for the Department. His primary research interests deal with violence, historical trauma, and hunger in Latin American narratives and Cinema. Italian is his new language. French next. During his free time, Willyam enjoys swimming, painting, and writing short stories.

Emma C. Tierney


Kate Toll is a first year PhD candidate in the Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies program. She is originally from the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Kate completed her B.A. at The George Washington University in 2016 where she studied Latin American Studies and Spanish. She then moved to London for a year and completed her M.A. in 2017 at University College London in Language, Culture, History Hispanic Studies. 


Felipe Esteban Toro Franco holds a B.A. in Hispanic Literatures and Linguistics from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and a Master’s degree in Latin American Literature from the Universidad de Chile. His research interests are the connections between writing and the arts (e.g. literature and sports, visual arts, baroque and Counterreformation). In particular, he has published some of his work on the narrative of Chilean painter and writer Adolfo Couve: “La vida secreta de un pintor neoclásico” (2017; Cuadernos de literatura, co-authored with Pablo Chiuminatto); “Una mirada a los niños reyes de Adolfo Couve” (2014; Anales de literatura chilena); “Continuidad de los parques: lectura viñamarina de El picadero de Adolfo Couve” (2014; Revista laboratorio); “El ejercicio de la corrección: lectura del manuscrito de La lección de pintura, Adolfo Couve” (2014; Literatura y lingüística, co-authored with Pablo Chiuminatto); “Una pieza secreta: juegos y juguetes en la narrativa de Adolfo Couve” (2013; Revista chilena de literatura). 

William Travers  

Will Travers  is a Massachusetts native with a BA from the University of Michigan.
After a decade of struggle, culminating in a year spent studying at Sciences Po in Paris, he finally acquired French, his first foreign language. The relative ease with which he later learned Spanish, following a summer in Granada, led him to suspect that subsequent foreign languages are very often learned in an entirely different way. It was this budding fascination with L3 acquisition and its facilitating factors that compelled him to begin a PhD program at Georgetown in 2014. When not studying linguistics or learning his next language, he can be found either making music or working on
Lokashakti, a nonprofit organization he founded in 2009 to promote nonviolence.



Édgar J. Ulloa Luján is a performance artist and poet from Ciudad Juárez, México. His areas of research and interest are contemporary Mexican narrative and narconarratives, U.S.-México Border Studies; organized violence by non-state actors and urban politics, poetics of the Americas and performance studies, Mexico and its diasporas; creative writing and visual culture. He founded a pioneer multimedia poetry blog (, when his hometown was the most dangerous city of the world. His performances negotiate border politics, cultural memory, trauma, immigration, and violence in addition to instigating audience and public participation. Ulloa received his BA in Literature at UTEP and his MFA in Creative Writing at New York University.  He is pursuing a Ph.D. in Spanish Literature at Georgetown University. He has performed in PEN World Voices Festival–PEN America and México Now Festival in NYC and The Poetry Festival Expandible in México City. He participated in the 31st Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts in Slovenia and SALTS in Switzerland at Work Off Paper exhibit, an art exhibition about how text function. Ulloa’s work was included by CONACULTA in the first national anthology of visual poetry in México. He was the 2016 Emerge-Surface-Be Poetry Fellow from the Poetry Project in NYC. He has participated virtually with Colombia and Spain reading poems online for audiences.  Ulloa is currently studying a Ph.D program, his second year of Spanish Literature at Georgetown University.




Linxi Zhang is a PhD student in Hispanic Linguistics. Originally from Beijing, China, she completed her bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature in Beijing Language and Culture University, and pursued a M.A. in Spanish Linguistics in Florida State University, Tallahassee. Her research interests include Spanish Phonology, Second/Third Language Acquisition, and Psycho-linguistics. In her free time, she likes cooking (carrying out interesting experiments in her kitchen) and spending time with her personal statistician.