Professor Steven Bird

B.Sc. M.Sc. Ph.D. (Edin)


Steven Bird is conducting social and technological experiments in the future evolution of the world's languages. Together with his students and colleagues, he is developing scalable methods for preserving disappearing words and worldviews for future generations of speakers and scholars. He is collaborating with speech communities in diasporas and ancestral homelands to design new approaches to language maintenance and revitalisation.

Steven studied computer science at the University of Melbourne before completing a PhD in computational linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. He has conducted fieldwork on endangered languages in West Africa, South America, Central Asia, Melanesia, and Australia. He has held academic positions at the Universities of Edinburgh, Pennsylvania, Melbourne, and UC Berkeley. He holds a secondary appointment as Senior Research Scientist at the International Computer Science Institute, UC Berkeley. He serves as Linguist at the Nawarddeken Academy in West Arnhem.

Steven is leading the Top End Language Lab

Prospective students are encouraged to consult

Research Interests

  • Language Maintenance and Revitalisation
  • Language Documentation and Description
  • Participatory Design
  • Computational Linguistics
  • Digital Archives

Professional Positions

  • 2015 - current Senior Research Scientist, International Computer Science Institute, University of California Berkeley
  • 2015 - current Visiting Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of California Berkeley
  • 2011 - 2014 Convenor of CS4HS Victoria workshops
  • 2002 - current Associate Professor, Department of Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne
  • 2002 - 2015 Senior Research Associate, Linguistic Data Consortium, University of Pennsylvania
  • 2001 - current Lead developer of the Natural Language Toolkit, open source software for language analysis
  • 2000 - current Coordinator of the Open Language Archives Community
  • 1998 - 2002 Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Computer and Information Science and Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania
  • 1990 - 1998 Research Fellow, Centre for Cognitive Science, University of Edinburgh

Memberships & Awards

  • 2009 President of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL)
  • 2007 - 2009 Deputy Head, Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering
  • 2002 - 2004 Member of LSA Committee on Endangered Languages and their Preservation
  • 2001 - 2007 Founding Editor of the ACL Digital Anthology 

Link to Research Publications

Steven Bird


T: +61 8 8946 6153

Charles Darwin University



Student Projects in Language, Technology, and Design