Ronnie Wilbur headshot photo

Pronouns: she/her

Phone: 765-494-3822


Lyles-Porter Hall
715 Clinic Drive

Curriculum Vitae Selected Publications Back to Directory

Ronnie Wilbur

Professor, Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Joint Appointment

Department of Linguistics, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, College of Liberal Arts

Areas of Expertise

  • Sign language structure (morphosyntax, semantics, prosody), neurocognitive processing, kinematics of production, successful outcomes of use in education


Responsible for sign language (SL) breakthroughs: (1) Documented deaf children’s SL knowledge does not interfere with English acquisition; single best predictor of ultimate educational outcomes is ASL fluency [Hrastinski, Wilbur 2016]. (2) Demonstrated SLs have syllables/standard stress patterns [Wilbur, Malaia 2018] (NSF funds); complex syntax (what looks like question-answer pair prosodically single sentence with information focus function; relative clauses [Wilbur 2017]; adverbial clauses; formal semantics (operators, modality, comparatives); formulated and tested Event Visibility Hypothesis as explanation for so-called sign iconicity. Grammatical use face/head/body: perform same functions as spoken morphemes, but simultaneously produced (NIH funds). Contributed to other SL grammars (Croatian, Austrian, Turkish) (NSF funds). (3) Conducted ASL motion capture [Wilbur, Malaia 2018]; neuroimaging and EEG [Krebs et al 2018]; and signal analysis [Malaia, Wilbur 2019].


  • PhD, 1973, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

  • SLHS DEI Committee; first generation

Current Courses

  • SLHS 22700/LING 20100 - Introduction to Linguistics
  • LING 53200 - Semantics 2
  • SLHS 41100 - Speech vs. Sign
  • SLHS 41000 - Evolution of Language
  • LING 52100 - Syntax 1
  • LING 52200 - Syntax 2

Selected Honors/Awards

  • Expert in Sign Language/Expertscape - September 23, 2021
  • Research and Scholarship Distinction Award/Purdue University - 2015
  • Helen B. Schleman Gold Medallion Award/Mortar Board Society - 2014
  • Fulbright Specialist/Fulbright, World Learning Organization - February 7, 2020
  • EU Expert Reviewer/European Commission Director General, Informatics DG - 2012

Selected Grants

  • Co-PI, Computational Methods for the Study of American Sign Language Nonmanuals Using Very Large Databases. National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (R01 DC014498). Aleix Martínez (PI, OSU). Period: 01/01/2016-12/31/22. Subcontract: $131,750.
  • Co-PI, NCS-FO: Neuroimaging to Advance Computer Vision, NLP, and AI. National Science Foundation (NSF 1734938). Jeffrey M, Siskind (PI). Period: 08/15/17-08/14/22. Total: $1,000,000.

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