Home > Research > Researchers > Sam Kirkham

Current Postgraduate Research Students

Sam Kirkham supervises 3 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

Student research profiles

Show all »

View graph of relations

Dr Sam Kirkham


Sam Kirkham

Lancaster University

County South



Tel: +44 1524 594577

Research overview

I am fascinated by speech as a complex biological, physical, phonological and social system. I have broad interests in phonetics, phonology and sociolinguistics, including acoustics, speech kinematics, bilingualism, sociophonetics, sound change, and laboratory phonology. I study these topics across a range of languages and dialects via fieldwork and laboratory research, using methods such as acoustic analysis, ultrasound imaging and electromagnetic articulography. Some of my ongoing research is outlined below.

Bilingual speech production 

I am interested in how bilinguals coordinate speech production in their two languages, including phonetic-phonological interactions, cross-linguistic influence, language-specific articulatory strategies, and speech development. Much of my research in this area has used ultrasound to image the movements of the tongue during speech. I have worked (or am currently working) on languages including English, Punjabi, Twi and Scottish Gaelic, with these projects involving fieldwork in England, Scotland, Ghana and Australia. 

[Collaborators: Jessica Wormald (JP French forensics lab), Claire Nance (Lancaster), Maya Zara (Lancaster), Chloé DiskinRosey BillingtonDebbie Loakes (Melbourne), Simon Gonzalez Ochoa (ANU)]

Sociophonetics and laboratory phonology

I also do research in sociophonetics and laboratory phonology. This includes using dialect and bilingual data to illuminate questions in phonetics and phonology, as well as using phonetic and phonological frameworks to understand aspects of sociophonetic variation and bilingual speech. My PhD examined the dynamics of sociophonetic variation in a linguistically and ethnically diverse community. My current work in this area includes a study of regional accent variation using a crowdsourced audio speech corpus of more than 4000 speakers. 

[Collaborators: Georgina BrownAdrian LeemannClaire Nance (Lancaster)]

Mechanisms of speech production

More broadly, I am interested in experimental phonetics and the mechanisms of speech production, including acoustics, aerodynamics and kinematics, as well as the relations between them. 

[Collaborators: Míša Hejná (Aarhus)]

PhD supervision

I am interested in supervising students who wish to carry out research in the following areas: phonetics, sociophonetics, articulatory phonetics, speech production, phonetics of bilingualism, dialect variation, phonetic fieldwork, South Asian languages and Englishes. I particularly welcome projects that make use of our lab's specialist instrumentation, which includes electromagnetic articulography (EMA), high-speed ultrasound, electropalatography (EPG), electroglottography (EGG), and aerodynamics systems. Please note that I do not supervise topics in applied linguistics, such as pronunciation teaching, and I will only consider studies of second language acquisition that either (i) demonstrate a strong theoretical focus on testing models of bilingualism or L2 speech; or (ii) involve studying the detailed mechanisms of speech production (such as cross-linguistic articulatory strategies).

Current Teaching

I teach on the following courses:

  • LING102 English Language
  • LING223 English Phonetics
  • LING327 Advanced English Phonetics
  • LING416 Sociophonetics

In 2016 I was awarded Lancaster University's Undergraduate Teaching Award, which is a university-wide prize based on student nominations and testimonials. I have also been nominated for Best Dissertation Supervisor and Best Student Advisor awards at Lancaster, as well as Postgraduate Tutor of the Year when I was a PhD student at Sheffield.

View all (15) »