Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Partnerships for International
Research and Education

Jessica Velez-Aviles

Jessica Velez-Aviles
Graduate Student in Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese
Jessica Velez-Aviles


I am a graduate student in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese (SIP) at Penn State University, where I specialize in Hispanic Linguistics and Psycholinguistics. I earned a B.A. in Spanish Education from the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras, and also completed an M.A. in General Linguistics in the same institution. Currently, I work as a Research Assistant for the Center for Language Science at Penn State. I am also collaborating in behavioral research being conducted at Giuli Dussias' Brain and Tracking Lab. My research interests include, but are not limited to, bilingualism, codeswitching, and the links between language production and comprehension. I like to spend my free time traveling and enjoying the simple pleasures of everyday life, like reading a novel, going to the beach, taking a walk, and having a good conversation with a friend.
Project Summary:
This summer, I will travel to Puerto Rico (PR) as a PIRE fellow to conduct two experiments: one at the lexical level (cognate facilitation effect) and another one at the sentence level (syntactic ambiguity resolution). The overarching goal of both studies is to determine whether Puerto Rican L1-Spanish-L2-English bilingual students enrolled at an English-instruction school in a country where Spanish is the dominant language are learning and processing English similarly to native speakers of English. The school administrators are interested in knowing whether the immersion experience that they offer produces the type of results that have been reported in previous studies involving Spanish-English bilinguals and English monolinguals. Therefore, my projects have the potential to inform teaching by taking scientific research to a school setting. My research work is part of a large-scale cross-sectional study that will test both children and adolescents at different stages of development from the same school environment. My research team is comprised of Dr. Giuli Dussias (advisor), Dr. Rosa Guzzardo Tamargo (PR PIRE Partner), Dr. Katrina Conell (Lab manager and Research coordinator), Juliana I. Cruz Martínez (SIP graduate student), and undergraduate PIRE students Alec Powers and Gabriella Rivera Corchado.