Graduate Student at UMass Amherst Wins Prestigious Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship for Minorities

AMHERST, Mass. - John Alderete, a University of Massachusetts graduate student in linguistics, has been awarded a $40,000 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship for Minorities. Alderete, who completed his dissertation last month and will receive his Ph.D. in May, is one of 25 minority scholars nationwide to receive a Ford fellowship in the 1999 competition. Linguistics is the study of the nature and structure of human language.

This fellowship is sponsored by the Ford Foundation and administered by the National Research Council (NRC). The program enables teacher-scholars to engage in postdoctoral research and scholarship in an environment free from the interference of their normal professional duties. The program also helps the teacher-scholars to achieve greater recognition in their respective fields and to develop the professional associations that will make them more effective and productive in academic employment. The fellowship award is for one year.

Alderete plans to spend his fellowship year at the University of British Columbia studying the role of word structure in accentual processes of Tahltan, a language in northern British Columbia with fewer than 40 remaining speakers. A native of San Jose, California, Alderete received his BA and MA degrees from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has been at the University of Massachusetts since 1993 and is currently in Vancouver completing studies related to his research.

"I am very excited to be able to take part in this research, and I thank the UMass linguistics department for preparing me for it," Alderete says. "My professors at UMass were all very accessible, and the knowledge they imparted was cutting edge."

In 1997, the NRC ranked the UMass graduate program in linguistics as number one in the nation. The following year, the program expanded to include an undergraduate as well as a graduate major.

"This is a great opportunity for John, and I have no doubt he will benefit from it greatly," says linguistics professor John McCarthy, who served as Alderete''s dissertation advisor. "It is a testament both to his expertise as a scholar and the excellence of the department. We can all be proud."