Dr. Jill Gilkerson graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in developmental psychology from UCLA. She also earned her Master of Arts and PhD degrees in linguistics from UCLA, both with a concentration in language acquisition. While at UCLA, her primary focus was in linguistics and the cognitive and grammatical principles that guide first and second-language acquisition (SLA).
Since joining the LENA in 2005 as Director of Child Language Research, Jill’s primary role has been managing a team of researchers responsible for collecting and analyzing the spontaneous speech data used for software development, the LENA normative scales, and academic research studies. She also directed audio transcription efforts, which served as the basis for LENA’s acoustic modeling and system validation. Jill is the author of The Power of Talk, a technical report that examines the relationship between parent talk and child language development. Her research at LENA has focused on the relationship between early language environment and demographic variables such as birth order, gender, and TV exposure. She has also concentrated on the language environment and development of children diagnosed with language and developmental delays and disorders, including autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Jill leads the planning and execution of large-scale data collection campaigns using LENA technology. She is currently leading all of the organization’s activities associated with the Providence Talks program in Providence, Rhode Island and is collaborating on international LENA research projects in South Korea and Saudi Arabia.