The LSA Member Spotlight highlights the interests and accomplishments of a different LSA member each month. If you would like to recommend an LSA member (including yourself) for a future Member Spotlight, please contact Brice Russ, LSA Director of Communications.

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Troy Messick, University of Connecticut

Messick headshot

Troy Messick is a fourth year PhD student in the Linguistics Department at the University of Connecticut. He was the LSA’s Bloch Fellow from 2013-2015. He served on the Executive Committee and as chair of the Committee on Student Issues and Concerns (COSIAC) during that time.

When did you first join the LSA, and how have you been involved with the LSA since you joined?
I joined the LSA in the fall of 2012, which was my second year of graduate school at University of Connecticut. I think like a lot of student members, I joined to apply for a fellowship to attend the LSA Summer Institute. It happened that I was awarded the Bloch Fellowship in the winter of 2013, so I have been involved with the LSA by serving on the Executive Committee and chairing the Committee on Student Issues and Concerns (COSIAC). In those capacities, I have helped organize a number of panels and events for students at the Annual Meeting and Summer Institutes.

What are you currently researching?
I work on syntax and semantics. My dissertation will investigate a number of instances when agreement morphology appears to diverge from the features of the pronoun that is the controller. I started out looking at this in Telugu (Dravidian), but the project has grown to include languages from the Papuan and Dogon language families. This research, I hope, will shed light on the interpretation and structure of pronouns, and also the mechanisms that underlie agreement.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the field of linguistics today?
Linguistics is a very diverse field but also a very technical field. I feel this creates a challenge in that it can sometimes be difficult to communicate the results of linguistics research to people outside your own subfield. It also makes it  difficult to discuss research findings with researchers of different backgrounds like computer science or psychology.

How would you recommend that grad students get more involved with the LSA?
COSIAC is an open committee, so any student member is free to join. That would probably be the best way to get involved. There are also volunteer opportunities to help with the Annual Meetings and Summer Institutes.

What, in your opinion, is the most important service the LSA provides to its members? To the field?
The opportunity provided by the Annual Meetings and Summer Institutes for members to gather and exchange ideas is a great service, especially for students and young researchers. I know the projects I have been working on have evolved thanks to the people I have had the chance to meet at these events.