My main goal is to understand the relation between human cognition and linguistic diversity, from the beginning of the Holocene until today and further into the future. I use data from hundred to thousands of languages in order to distinguish, in the structure of languages, the consequences of contingent historical and demographic processes from consistent human biases towards or against learning, using or transmitting specific linguistic traits. In my work I combine data science with cognitive sciences, diversity linguistics, evolutionary anthropology, computational social sciences, natural language processing and cultural evolution. I regularly wrangle with small, sparse, incomplete, imbalanced, noisy and non-independent data (or s2i2n2 for short).
My published research covers topics ranging from the emergence of new languages, pervasive form-meaning associations, the adaptability of speech sound systems, patterns of information packing , and the prehistory of worldwide linguistic diversity.
More recently, I have become interested in the application of insights from linguistic diversity into concrete issues involving (language-based) medicine, education and technology.
I am an ICREA Research Professor, an associate professor at the Center for Brain & Cognition at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona (Spain), a Branco Weiss Fellow. In addition, I am also an external researcher at the Human Relations Area Files (Yale University, USA) and an associate of the Culture, Cognition, Coevultion Lab based at the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, and I serve as an ad hoc expert on linguistic diversity for UNESCO. I have been a recipient of the 2024 Association for Psychological Science Rising Star Award and the 2019 Glushko Prize in Cognitive Sciences among other honors.
Previously I was a a Harvard Data Science Initative Fellow based at the Culture, Cognition, Coevultion Lab led by Joseph Henrich, based at the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, a research affiliate of the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena (Germany) and the 2019-2020 Maury Green Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University. Before I was postdoctoral researcher at the Comparative Linguistics Department at the University of Zürich (Switzerland) between 2015-2019. I received a Ph.D. in Computer Sciences from the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences while simultaneously I held an affiliation to the Department of Linguistics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, both institutes from Leipzig (Germany). I obtained my B.Sc. in Physics and M.Sc. in Interdisciplinary and Statistical Physics from the Balseiro Institute in Bariloche (Argentina).