My research aims to discover how human social conduct is

organized, coherent and meaningful.

I use the methods of conversation analysis to examine video recorded naturally occurring interactions between people coming together to socialize and/or do work.

I am currently investigating how both previously acquainted and unacquainted parties open their face-to-face interactions across a wide variety of settings, as well as how primary school teachers and their students’ parents interact during parent-teacher conferences.

As a 2013-2014 National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow, I am examining endogenous interactional methods that parents and teachers use to circumvent conflict.

Opening Face-to-Face Interaction

I am systematically analyzing how both previously acquainted and unacquainted parties open their face-to-face encounters across a wide variety of casual and institutional settings. My data corpus for this project currently contains 337 video recorded naturally occurring openings of face-to-face interactions between English-speaking persons, including parties coming together to socialize (e.g., share meals, celebrate holidays, watch television, play games) and do work (e.g., house repairs, babysitting, discussing a health concern, discussing a student’s performance in school, discussing work experience, and studying together). Across these data, participants are coming together to do different activities while inhabiting different social categories or identities (e.g., ‘host’, ‘friend’, ‘teacher’), in different places (e.g., homes, schools, offices). All data involve parties coming together in some private territory for non-chance encounters for occasions of sustained, focused interaction.

Through this research, I am working to explicate exactly how and where – on a local, moment-by-moment basis – parties accomplish their social relationships during openings.

Projects resulting from my analysis of these data include: 

The co-present opening sequence

Documentation and description of the specific, regular verbal and body-behavioral

practices/actions participants use to build their face-to-face openings


Explication of how previously unacquainted parties accomplish introductions

Including newcomers

Analysis of how newcomers bodily display that they want to join into an already-established party’s interaction; and how pre-present speakers include newcomers into that interaction

Doing ‘how I’m coming here’

Examination of how arrivers embody and articulate a display of their arrival states

Co-present greeting

Elucidation of the work involved in producing co-present greetings, including an analytic description of how parties get to do greetings, as well as demonstration of how participants tailor their greetings specifically for current recipients


Analysis of utterances through which speakers interactionally register some feature of the setting available for mutual perception and experience

Parent-Teacher Conference Interaction

I have gathered a corpus of video recorded parent-teacher conferences that currently totals 41 conference interactions from four different schools in three different districts, including fourteen teachers and 61 parents.

I am examining these data to document and describe, among other things:

•how parents and teachers deliver and receive praise and criticism about students

•how parents present themselves as ‘good parents’ to teachers

•how teachers and parents negotiate knowledge of – and responsibility and accountability for – students’ academic performance and behavior in school

Areas of Interest

language and social interaction, conversation analysis, sociolinguistics, social psychology, everyday life, interpersonal communication, multimodal interaction, prosody in interaction, ordinary conversation, institutional interaction, ethnomethodology, qualitative methods, social order, affiliation and social solidarity, preference organization, person reference, social epistemology, social control and service providing institutions, parent-teacher interaction, medical interaction, political interaction