Maura O'Leary

Semanticist, Field Researcher, & Teacher

I am a Visiting Assistant Professor at Swarthmore College.

My dissertation (defended December 9th, 2021, at UCLA) provides a formal model of nominal evaluation times, including nominal lexical aspect, interaction with scopal tense, interactions with the evaluation times of nominal modifiers, and the dynamic effects of novelty on evaluation times. I additionally do both morphosyntactic and revitalization work with the critically endangered Alaskan Dene (Athabaskan) language Hän. Recently, I have also been working on equitable and inclusive pedagogical methods for teaching and evaluation in university-level linguistics courses.

Get in touch at



  • December 2022: Both of my RAs - Rainey Williams and Mario Peng Lee - were awarded Travel Grants from the UCLA Undergraduate Research Center for Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences for our upcoming presentation at the LSA in January 2023.

  • November 2022: Both of my RAs - Rainey Williams and Mario Peng Lee - were awarded Undergraduate Research and Travel Awards by the UCLA Linguistics Department for our upcoming presentation at the LSA in January 2023.

  • November 2022: I was awarded the Swarthmore Faculty Research Support Grant for work on the Hän Revitalization Project.

  • October 2022: My chapter SemanTasks and SemanTricks: Using Linguistic Knowledge to Your Advantage was accepted for publication in Games for Students of Linguistics.

  • September 2022: I will be competing in the Five Minute Linguist Competition at the LSA annual meeting in January.

  • September 2022: My RAs - Rainey Williams and Mario Peng Lee - and I will be presenting out work on the Diverse Names Generator at the LSA in January.

  • September 2022: We have completed the First Annual Hän Language Camp! Three days of teaching and learning the Hän language in Eagle Village, AK, and we got to debut our Hän language learning materials: textbook, phrasebook, flashcards, and bingo cards. Pictures coming soon!

  • August 2022: I began my position as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Swarthmore College, teaching Semantics and Introduction to Language and Linguistics.

  • June 2022: I got a grant from the UCLA Center for the Advancement of Teaching for the Diverse Names Generator project (page coming soon).

  • June 2022: I graduated with my doctorate from UCLA!

  • May 2022: I have accepted a 3-year Visiting Assistant Professorship at Swarthmore College!

  • May 2022: I have filed my dissertation!

  • March 2022: My manuscript "Implementing Skills-Based Grading in a Linguistics Course" (with Richard Stockwell) was accepted for publication in this year's edition of Teaching American Speech.

  • March 2022: The UCLA Department of Linguistics has hired me to edit the materials for their course Ling 1: Introduction to the Study of Language for equitability and inclusivity.

  • March 2022: I presented a talk on Skills-Based Grading at the UCLA Center for Education Innovation & Learning in the Sciences' (CEILS) Journal Club for STEM Education Research

  • January 2022: I have accepted an offer to teach Semantics and Pragmatics at San Diego State University for the Spring 2022 term.



Nominal Evaluation Times

My dissertation, which provides a formal analysis that can predict the available nominal property times for any given noun in any given sentence.