Professor of Linguistics
His original training was in linguistics, and his early research and publication was in phonology, the study of the sound systems of human languages. He later turned his attention to the evolution of speech and language, and his research and teaching focus is now on the comparative study of vocalization, cognition, and behavior in non-human animals.
Currently he is working on the vocal behavior of domesticated animals, especially sheep. Much of his field research has been conducted in the west of Ireland with free-ranging hill sheep. He works as well with livestock at the Hampshire College Farm Center. He has also studied domestic dogs and wild canids such as the New Guinea Singing Dog, and he is now engaged in a research project on the structure of song in robins.
He is deeply interested in the general theory of evolution, and also hopes to learn more about the brain; computational modeling of evolution and cognition; molecular biology; environmental science; and sustainable agriculture. His work has been published in journals ranging from Linguistic Inquiry to the Journal of Zoology.
He is also a co-author, with several Hampshire colleagues, of the first cognitive science textbook for undergraduates, and his work has been presented to a wide range of professional and general audiences.
Mark's teaching areas include bioacoustics, animal communication, general animal behavior, linguistic theory, language change, biological evolution, and general cognitive science.
This is the first of a two-course sequence exploring the main theoretical ideas and methods of ethology, the scientific study of animal behavior. In this first semester we explore the functional and evolutionary bases of animal behavior and cognition, including altruism, social behavior, communication, and anti-predator behavior. Students will also learn and put into practice some of the ways that ethologists observe, record and measure behavior outdoors in the natural world. The main reading and discussion material for the course will be drawn from the first half of John Alcock's textbook, Animal Behavior, supplemented by journal articles from the professional scientific literature. Two summary/critique papers on the journal articles will be required, along with a report on a public lecture relevant to the themes of the course, and a full-length term paper on a species and research topic of the student's choosing. The final project will be presented to the whole class either orally or in a poster session. Subsequent enrollment in the second semester of the sequence is encouraged but not required.
This course is an intensive investigation of the linguistic structure of an unfamiliar and little-studied language - Klamath (maqlaqsyalank), once spoken by thousands of people in southern Oregon and now effectively extinct. A linguistic "isolate" (not obviously related to other languages), Klamath offers an important perspective on the hypothesis that there are universal, species-general properties of linguistic capacity. We'll be paying special attention to Klamath phonology and morphology (along with syntactic and semantic issues) , utilizing recorded data collected by the instructor in the field, as well as reading what there is of scientific literature focused on the language. In addition, we will look at Klamath from the standpoint of thinking about the impact of "language death" and social and cultural dimensions of the growing diminution of linguistic diversity. Coursework will include hands-on analyses of available data as well as a sustained final paper on a topic of the student's choosing. Prerequisite detail: Prior coursework in linguistics
This course surveys the main theoretical ideas in ethology, the scientific study of animal behavior. We explore the physiological, developmental, functional and evolutionary bases of behavior as well as related issues in the study of cognition. The main reading and discussion material for the course is drawn from journal articles in the professional scientific literature; students are also expected to read John Alcock's standard textbook, Animal Behavior. Two summary/critique papers on the journal articles will be required, along with a report on a public lecture relevant to the themes of the course, and a full-length paper on a species and research topic of the student's choosing. The final project will also be presented to the whole class either orally or in a poster session.
This reading seminar is recommended for all concentrators and advanced students in cognitive science, regardless of discipline. Students with a background in psychology, philosophy, linguistics, computer science, neuroscience, animal behavior, education, new information technologies etc., are all welcome. Each week we will examine one current issue in cognitive science, drawing on recent journal articles and essays. We will seek to make the issues comprehensible across disciplinary divides and to highlight potential areas for interdisciplinary collaboration. Students are expected to engage in intensive discussions during the single weekly meeting, to write a brief reaction paper each week, and to produce an extended written discussion of one of the issues by the end of the term. The class meets once a week for two hours and 50 minutes. Prerequisite: This Concentrators' seminar requires previous coursework in any discipline of cognitive science.
This course is concerned with the hands-on study of animal behavior (and cognition) in the field. Taking advantage of varied habitats in the vicinity of the college - primarily our own fields and woodlands at Hampshire College, but also the Holyoke range, the Quabbin reservoir, the Berkshire hills and elsewhere - we will learn techniques for observing, recording, describing, measuring and analyzing the behavior of some local (primarily mammalian) species, including coyotes, deer, moose, black bear and fishers. Students will collect and analyze data and submit a final written report on one species of their choosing, and should be prepared to spend a lot of time outdoors. Prerequisite: prior coursework in animal behavior.