Featured Speakers: LLL Research Award Recipients (2018)

Dr. Katie Drager – Linguistics

LLL Junior/Mid-Career Faculty Award for Excellence in Scholarship & Research

Katie Drager is an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics. She specializes in sociophonetics, which examines the link between sounds and social meanings. She is especially interested in how expectations about a talker can influence how sounds produced by that talker are perceived, and the ways in which phonetic variants contribute to a language user’s construction of style. Her work contributes to our understanding of how sounds, words, and social information are produced and perceived, and helps to expose ways in which stereotypes affect listeners’ interpretations of speech.

Drager’s work can be found in journals such as Journal of Phonetics, Language Documentation and Conservation, and Language. Her second book, Experimental Research Methods in Sociolinguistics, was published by Bloomsbury earlier this year.


Dr. Subramanian Shankar – English

LLL Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Scholarship & Research

Subramanian Shankar is a novelist, literary and cultural critic, and translator. His third novel, Ghost in the Tamarind, which was published in September 2017, is set against the background of the anti-caste movement in South India during the 20th century. His most recent critical book is the award-winning Flesh and Fish Blood: Postcolonialism, Translation and the Vernacular.

Shankar is the editor of Caste and Life Narratives and the translator of Komal Swaminathan’s Tamil play Thaneer, Thaneer (Water!).  His writings have appeared in publications in the United States, India, and Europe.

Shankar is currently a Senior Fulbright-Nehru Fellow for 2017-2018. He has also received the College of Languages, Linguistics & Literature’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and has been honored with scholar-in-residence appointments at SOAS University (London, UK) and at the University of Houston (Downtown).


Wenyi Ling – Second Language Studies

LLL Award for Excellence in Doctoral Dissertation Research

Wenyi Ling, a PhD candidate in the Department of Second Language Studies, is writing her dissertation about perceiving, processing, and learning Mandarin language tone by second language speakers. Ling earned her BA and MA degrees from East China Normal University, where she also earned accolades for her graduate work.

Before arriving at UH Mānoa in 2014 to pursue a PhD, Ling was a visiting scholar at Reed College in Oregon.  In fall 2017, she conducted research at Peking University on a scholar exchange award.  Ling has published several papers in peer-reviewed journals and presented her work in field-famous conferences.

Currently, Ling is analyzing eye-tracking data from a research study she designed on using tonal information to recognize Mandarin words.  Ultimately, Ling wants to create useful learning and teaching materials on the subject.


Rain Wright – English

LLL Award for Excellence in Doctoral Dissertation Research

Rain Wright is a doctoral candidate in the English department whose research interests include Contemporary Life Writing, Creative Writing Pedagogy, and Critical Ethnic Studies Theory. Her dissertation is titled “Everything Turns to Light.”

Rain has been published in Hawai’i Review, Mud Season Review, Connotations Press: An Online Artifact, Madras Magazine, Summit Magazine, and Hawaiʻi Pacific Review. She won the 2014 University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Biography Prize for her work “A Way With Water.” In 2015, she won second place in the Ian MacMillan Writing Awards for her creative nonfiction piece titled “Shrines.” Rain won first place in the Stryker Prize (2016) in fiction for “We Came Up the Hill,” and third place in the Saiki Prize Contest (2016) for “Keʻei Stories.” Rain was the Nonfiction Editor for Hawaiʻi Review (2016).