MSU English faculty member honored for linguistic innovations

Wendy Herd (Photo by Russ Houston)

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

STARKVILLE, Miss.—An associate professor of English is Mississippi State’s selection for 2017 Humanities Teacher of the Year.

Wendy Herd will be among some 30 higher education representatives the Mississippi Humanities Council recognizes early next year for outstanding achievements.

On campus, Herd’s tribute includes a $300 honorarium and invitation to deliver the College of Arts and Sciences Humanities Lecture. Titled “Sociophonetic Variation: Implications in the Classroom,” her Nov. 29 public presentation begins at 3:30 p.m. in the Shackouls Honors College Forum Room of Griffis Residence Hall. A reception follows.

A member of the university faculty since 2011, Herd leads the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program and is the founder of the Linguistics Research Laboratory. She also launched a teacher practicum that takes place each summer in Chile.

Her research interests include phonetics, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics and second-language acquisition. She currently is working with university peers in Louisiana and Indiana to investigate regional and social variations in pronunciation.

Established in 1972, the MHC is a private nonprofit corporation funded by Congress through the National Endowment for the Humanities. It works to provide public programs in traditional liberal arts disciplines that serve nonprofit groups statewide.

The 2018 recognition ceremony takes place Feb. 16 at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson. For details, see

Prior to earning master’s and doctoral degrees in linguistics from the University of Kansas, she also received a master’s in English with TESOL Certification at Missouri State University and simultaneous bachelor degrees in English and French at the University of Missouri.

Expressing appreciation that the MHC award “highlights the importance of both teaching and the humanities,” Herd said she also is gratified to have “learned so much from the exceptional and dedicated teachers that I work with at Mississippi State.”

Dan Punday, English department head, said he joins other colleagues in being “particularly excited that Wendy Herd has received this award because it draws attention to her work in developing a program in the teaching of English as a second language, which is of vital importance to the training of teachers all across Mississippi.”

The humanities honor is not Herd’s first professional accolade on campus. In 2012, she was awarded a Ottilie Schillig Special Teaching Grant and a College of Arts and Sciences Henry Family Research Fund Grant the following year.

Her research has been featured in Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, and the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. In collaboration with graduate and undergraduate students, two research articles, “The Southern Vowel Shift in Women from Mississippi” and “Phonetic Drift in a First Language Dominant Environment,” also were published in Proceedings of Meetings in Acoustics. For more, see

For more about the campus humanities lecture, contact Gretchen Crawford, the college’s academic programs assistant, at 662-325-2645 or

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