Alumni Focus: Dr. Loraine K. Obler


By Deborah Keller-Cohen
Oct 06, 2012 Bookmark and Share

Dr. Loraine K. Obler

As part of the the Rackham Graduate School's centennial celebration, Rackham will host a series of lectures by UM graduate alumns. Linguistics is proud to participate in this lecture series, and to have one of our most accomplished Ph.D. alumns back on campus for this event.

Professor Loraine K. Obler will deliver the Linguistics Department's Rackham Centennial Lecture on October 12, 2012 (more information, including an abstract of the talk, is available here). Professor Obler has a long intellectual connection with the University of Michigan through a BA in Studies in Religion (’69), and MA in Linguistics (’70), an MA in Near Eastern Studies (’73) and a Ph.D. in Linguistics (’75). Her dissertation, “Reflexes of the Classical Arabic “Say’un” ‘Thing’ in the Modern Dialects: A Study in Patterns of language Change” grew out of research she conducted in Israel where she began the next stage of her career on the neurolinguistics of bilingualism and aging.

Since 1991 she has been Distinguished Professor of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences with a joint appointment in Linguistics at the City University of New York Graduate School. She and Martin Albert  co-direct the NIH-funded Language in the Aging Brain Laboratory of the Boston University School of Medicine Harold Goodglass Aphasia Research Center at the Boston VA Healthcare Center.

She is twice the recipient of Doctorate Honoris Causa, from Turku University in 2011 and Stockholm University in 1993.  She has received multiple Fulbright awards, is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and recipient of the Lady Davis Award for a Visiting Professor at Hebrew University. She has been widely sought as a consultant by such institutions as the Israel-US Binational Science Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study  at the University of Maryland, the Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine, New York City  and the Center for Applied Linguistics among many others.

She is the author/coauthor or editor of 13 books and 163+ articles with a score more submitted and in press. Widely read and appreciated by colleagues, her book Language and the Brain with Kris Gjerlow has been translated into 5 languages. She’s even had time to contribute several linguistics parodies such as a piece on bilingualism in rats in Lingua Pranca.  

She works on linguistic aspects of language and aging as well as bilingualism and aging, examining normal language changes with age as well as aphasia, agrammatism and other types of language loss associated with dementia.  Her research has given significant attention to sentence processing and lexical retrieval in aging. Her research program has received funding for decades from such sources as the NIH, NSF, and the VA. She teaches a wide range of courses on language and the brain, aphasia including Alzheimers, agrammatism, dyslexia, neurolinguistics of bilingualism, and general neurolinguistics among others. This teaching program brings together psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics and core linguistic theory, demonstrating her adeptness at interdisciplinarity.  It is with great pride that we honor her with our Centennial lecture this month.