Center for Language Acquisition at the Pennsylvania State University

Gil Watz Programs

Gilbert R. Watz (PSU '49) was a committed supporter and benefactor of the Center for Language Acquisition.  He believed that mastery of a second language was essential not only for successful participation in the global marketplace, but also as a bridge to increased intercultural understanding and community service.  Though an oil industry executive by trade, he dedicated himself to learning Spanish as an adult, and provided many years of volunteer service as an interpreter in the Greater Houston area.  His generosity has provided substantial resources for building a vibrant and exceptional Applied Linguistics community at Penn State, including dissertation fellowships, awards to outstanding graduate students, sponsored lecture series, and most recently, an endowed Early Career Professorship in Languages and Linguistics.  Gil Watz was a warm and enthusiastic supporter of undergraduate and graduate education at Penn State, and we are truly grateful for his many contributions over the years.



Gil Watz Memorial Lecture, 2014-2015


Dr. Daniel Everett, Professor of Global Studies and Sociology at Bentley University, at will deliver the Gil Watz Memorial Lecture.


"On the Role of Culture in the Emergence of Language"


Date:  Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Time:  4:00-5:30 p.m.

Location:  Foster Auditorium (Paterno Library)


For further details, click here.




Gil Watz Outstanding Graduate Student Award

This award is given to an outstanding graduate student in Applied Linguistics each year.
2015-2016  Daisuke Kimura and Olesya Kisselev 
2014-2015  Pin-Yun (Ben) Wang
2013-2014  Kimberly Buescher and Brooke Ricker
2012-2013  Larysa Bobrova and Jiyun Kim
2011-2012  Sungwoo Kim


Gilbert R. Watz Graduate Fellowship in Languages & Linguistics

This fellowship awards a year-long teaching release to a doctoral student in Applied Linguistics who has demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching, research, and service.
2015-2016   Lindsey Kurtz and Becky Zoshak 
2014-2015   Edie Furniss
2013-2014   Dorothy Worden
2012-2013   Brody Blumel
2011-2012   Sungwoo Kim


Gil Watz Dissertation Grants


The Center for Language Acquisition (CLA), in collaboration with the College of the Liberal Arts Humanities Initiative Dissertation Program, is pleased to offer Gil Watz Dissertation Grants.  These combined awards are for Humanities doctoral students who are working on a dissertation in Applied Linguistics and are supported on assistantship. The research grant provided by the CLA works in combination with the Humanities Departmental Dissertation Release Award for one semester and those awarded will have the title of Gil Watz Dissertation Fellow.


Up to five fellows may be named per academic year, on a competitive basis.  Gil Watz Dissertation Fellows will be awarded a research grant of $1000 during the fall or spring semester.  For summer fellows, in lieu of the Humanities Departmental Dissertation Release Award, the student is granted a $3000 scholarship from the College per the Humanities Initiative Dissertation Program, and an additional $750.00 research grant from the CLA.


Gil Watz Dissertation Fellows are required to submit a two-page report outlining the research conducted during the award semester, and are expected to make at least one public presentation at Penn State on their dissertation research.  Presentations can be given in a variety of venues, including the Department of Applied Linguistics Round Table.



Eligibility and Application Procedures:


The CLA will award a research grant to the Gil Watz Dissertation Fellow during the semester in which the student has received an automatic Humanities Departmental Dissertation Release Award.  Students must meet the eligibility requirements of the College's Humanities Initiative Dissertation Program which can be found at:


Applicants should forward their materials electronically to the Office of the Associate Dean for Graduate and Undergraduate Education, via Keshia Kennelly (, and should include the following:

  • a summary of their dissertation proposal 

  • a statement indicating why research support is required and for what purpose the research funds will be used

  • an indication of the semester in which the student would like support as a Fellow  (fall, spring, or summer semester)

  • an updated CV



Application Deadlines:


  • For spring: October 15 (or closest working day prior to this date)

  • For summer: February 15 (or closest working day prior to this date)

  • For fall: The first Monday in April



Applications are reviewed by the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, Dr. Eric Silver, and sent for consideration to the Center for Language Acquisition, 304 Sparks Building. Direct questions regarding the Watz Fellow opportunity can be addressed to Dr. James Lantolf (, Director of the Center for Language Acquisition, 304 Sparks Building.



Gil Watz Visiting Scholar Program


The Gil Watz Visiting Scholar Program provides an opportunity for Applied Linguistics scholars at institutions other than Penn State to spend up to one semester in residence at Penn State.  Visiting scholars are encouraged to pursue research projects, and to interact with department graduate students and faculty, both formally, through workshops and lectures, and informally, through one-on-one and small group meetings. The program provides a stipend for travel and lodging and a modest honorarium for workshops and lectures. For a list of previous Gil Watz Visiting Scholars, please click here. Those interested in applying to this program should contact Dr. James Lantolf, Director of the Center for Language Acquisition at JPL7@PSU.EDU 

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