SOCALab Team



SOCALab is a team. We are a collective of researchers at different stages of our careers, and we share a passion for the Spanish language in the US, Historical Sociolinguistics, and Digital Humanities. A majority of our members are ascribed to the Department of Hispanic Studies at the University of California Riverside. We receive every year a class of eight to ten undergraduate researchers within the Undergraduate Research Program at UCR.

Our members, and our Lab, have been generously supported by the Hellman Foundation; the Regents´ Faculty Fellowship and the Regent´s Faculty Development Award; the Mellon Mays Foundation for Undergraduate Research; the Chancellor Fellowship for Undergraduate Research; Humanists@work; UCHRI; UC Mexus, and the Department of Hispanic Studies at UCR.


Covadonga Lamar Prieto, PhD PhD

  • Ph.D. in Philology, U. de Oviedo (Spain), 2007
  • Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literature, University of California Los Angeles, 2012
  • Ph.D. in History and Sociocultural Studies, U. de Oviedo (Spain), 2019
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Humanities, UNED, 2017

Covadonga Lamar Prieto specializes in Sociolinguistics of the Spanish in the US. Her corpus-based research deals with Historical Spanish in California, with a focus on language change, dialectology, and bilingualism. Her book El español de California en el XIX (Iberoamericana) examines the sociolinguistic situation of Spanish in Nineteenth-Century California and the social, linguistic and economic situation of the Spanish speaking inhabitants of California after and before the Annexation to the US. She is also interested in the contemporary consequences of historical language contact. Besides being a Linguist, Covadonga is a Colonialist. She specializes in Colonial Mexico and the cultural production of the first Criollos: how these Criollos defined their new transatlantic identity, and the way they used to examine their society through literature



Graduate Researcher Team!

Miriam Villazón Valbuena, MA

  • B.A. in English, Universidad de Oviedo (Spain)
  • MA in Spanish, UCR

Miriam is a PhD candidate in Spanish Sociolinguistics in the University of California, Riverside. Her research interests include bilingual communities and the study of minoritized languages and what is their impact on the sociolinguistic aspect of the speakers and social media, alongside with the study of the history of the Spanish language in the territory of California throughout digital humanities. She is currently organizing the series of workshops and roundtables “Iberian Minoritized Languages: Asturian 101” in which Asturian language is discussed from different cultural perspectives with scholars from both sides of the Atlantic. 


Natalie Saffi, M.A

  • B.A. in Spanish, UCR
  • MA in Spanish, UCR

Natalie Saffi earned her BA in Spanish with a focus in Linguistics and is currently a PhD student at the University of California Riverside. Natalie has worked on the Marianopedia project in the SOCALab since her undergraduate career. Her interests include the Spanish of California, Linguistic Netnography, Latinx/Hispanic Sociolinguistics; specifically, inclusivity, language and identity, and the interplay of these as an “other” within a dominant culture.


Miguel Muñoz Valtierra

  • B.A. in Spanish & Education, UCR
  • MA in Spanish, UCR

Miguel Muñoz  was a fourth-year undergraduate student at UCR and a Mellon Mays fellow that is now continuing his adventure as a second year M.A. student with us. He was a Spanish major with a concentration in Linguistics. His research interests include bilingualism, social media and bilingual education. He is also interested in the sociolinguistics of Californian Spanish.



Martina Visconti

  • B.A. in Hispanic Philology (Universidad de Córdoba, Spain)
  • B.A in English and German Translation and Interpreting (Universidad de Córdoba, Spain)
  • MA in Spanish, UCR

Martina Visconti is a first year M.A student at the Department of Hispanic Studies in UCR. Her research interests include medical translation, graphic medicine, and Spanish for healthcare. Her focus is the access of Hispanic communities to healthcare information and services.




Mariam Nadirashvili

  • B.A. in Spanish & Global Studies, UCR

მარიამ ნადირაშვილი is a 4th year Spanish Linguistics and Global Studies. She is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and Honors Student. She is currently working, under the mentorship of Dr. Covadonga Lamar Prieto, on a research project that examines how language ideologies frame prejudices of the students learning Spanish as a foreign language.




Faculty Collaborators

Claudia Holguín Mendoza, PhD

  • Ph.D. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 2011
  • MA New Mexico State University, 2008
  • BA University of Texas, 1998

Holguín Mendoza’s research is focused on the field of Sociolinguistics; specifically in the areas of socio-pragmatics and stylistic variation (emphasis on Mexican Spanish). Her focus in Spanish heritage language education encompasses critical pedagogical approaches, the interplay of identity and language, ideologies and representations of language, racial formations in the US, and the sociopolitics of language education.


Isabel Álvarez Sancho, PhD


Cristina Bleortu, PhD

Cristina Bleorțu trabaja en la Universidad de Zúrich como investigadora posdoctoral en el proyecto “Más allá del estructuralismo”. Cartas a Eugenio Coseriu y la historia de la lingüística en el siglo XX. Es licenciada en filología rumana e hispánica (Universidad “Ștefan cel Mare”, Suceava), máster “Lengua, literatura y cultura hispánicas” (Universidad “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, Iași) y “Español como Segunda Lengua” (Universidad de Oviedo). En noviembre de 2018 defendió su tesis doctoral (Universidad de Oviedo (sobresaliente cum laude) en cotutela con Universidad de Zúrich (summa cum laude), que es un estudio sociolingüístico sobre una comunidad norteña de España (Pola de Siero), que se publicó en 2021, Aproximación al habla de La Pola Siero. Variación lingüística: descripción y percepción. Es codirectora de la revista Energeia y una de las coordinadoras de las reseñas de la Revista Internacional de Lingüística Iberoamericana (RILI) desde 2023. Sus artículos y libros se centran en sociolingüística y entonación. Participó y participa en varios proyectos internacionales de sociolingüística y entonación (El Atlas interactivo de la entonación del español, Atlas Prosodique Multimédia de l’Espace Roman, Analiza contrastivă a intonației limbilor română și spaniolă. O abordare sociolingvistică, entre otros); tradujo y editó varios libros de lingüística al rumano y español. Recogió el corpus de encuestas semiespontáneas de Pola de Siero y Dărmănești. Obtuvo el gran premio para la mejor investigadora predoctoral rumana de fuera, en 2017 (Gala Studenţilor Români din Străinătate, Palacio del Parlamento, Bucarest) y, en 2020, el premio para la mejor investigadora joven en ciencias humanas (Premiile Ad Astra, Bucarest).


Claudia Elena Menéndez Fernández, PhD

Claudia Elena


Claudia Elena Menéndez Fernández (1994, Asturies) holds a PhD in Romance Philology from the University of Uviéu since 2020. She works as an Assistant Professor of Romance Linguistics at this University. Her main lines of research are Romanic etymology, onomastics, sociolinguistics and Asturian dialectology. She has visiting scholar in France and Italy, collaborates in international research projects in Romance languages, such as the DÉRom project (Dictionnaire Étymologique Roman), and has published numerous works in journals and impact monographs. She teaches Asturian in different University Extension courses, is co-director of Formientu: Revista de Lliteratura, and she is the vice-president of the association Iniciativa pol Asturianu, which aims to defend the linguistic rights of Asturians and the dignification of the Asturian language.





JyEun Son, PhD

  • Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literature, University of California Los Angeles, 2018
  • M.A. in Hispanic Linguistics, Seoul National University, 2006
  • B.A. in Hispanic Languages & Literature, Seoul National University, 2004

JyEun Son is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Hispanic Language & Literature, College of Humanities at Seoul National University. She specializes in intonational phonology, prosodic transfer and acquisition of prosody. Also, she is expanding her research interests to prosody-pragmatic interface, sociolinguistics, language/dialect contact, heritage speakers and more. Some of her most recent works are “A Change of Direction in Research on Spanish in Southern California: Focusing on Dialect Contact” and “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Spanish language: dialectal use of terminology related to COVID-19”.


SOCALab Alumni

Álvaro González Alba, PhD – Assistant Professor, Regis University 

  • B.A in Education. Universidad de Huelva (Spain)
  • M.A in SLA. Universidad Camilo José Cela. UCJC (Spain)
  • PhD, UC Riverside, 2023

Dr. Álvaro González Alba is an Assistant Professor at the Modern and Classical Languages Dept. at Regis University in Denver. He was born in Córdoba, Spain. He has earned his BA and MA in Spain, where he studied education, the teaching of languages and second language acquisition. Moreover, he has earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Riverside, where his dissertation focused on the sociolinguistics relationships within the use of Spanish and social media platforms interaction with an emphasis in the Spanish minoritized communities  of California. Besides, his research interests focus on Digital Humanities, linguistics attitudes and ideologies towards Spanish speakers and ethical concerns on social media research. Furthermore, and as part of some of his projects, Dr. González is also interested in bilingualism, and pedagogies for the teaching of Spanish with special attention to the use of the sociolinguistic history of the US Spanish speakers in the classrooms.

You can check some of his publications here

María Gutiérrez Gómez, UCR Undergraduate. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Hispanic Studies Department at the same institution.

Evelyn Gámez, UCR Undergraduate Chancellor Fellow 2015-2017. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Sociolinguistics at UC Davis.

Cynthia Romero, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Researcher and UCDC Fellow, 2014-2017. She is currently working for Teach for America and completed an MEd in the University of Nevada Las Vegas

Jazmine Exford, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Researcher, 2014-2017. She is an Assistant Professor at Florida International University

Sophia ScandurroUCR Undergraduate Chancellor Fellow 2022-2023.

Socalitos, send us your news and updates!!!


We are accepting a very limited number RAs for the 2023-2024 school year

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