Adam Charles Schembri

Colleges, School and Institutes


I began working at the University of Birmingham in January 2016. Prior to that, I was associate professor at La Trobe University in Melbourne (Australia) during 2011-2015, and Senior Research Fellow at the Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre at University College London during 2006-2010. I was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Newcastle and Macquarie University (both in Sydney, Australia) during 2003-2006.

Research interests

I am interested in research investigating sign languages and gesture.  I am currently working on an Australian Research Council Linkage Project with Louisa Willoughby (Monash University) and Ramas McCrae (Melbourne Polytechnic) investigating individual differences in second language learners of Australian Sign Language (Auslan).  I am also conducting on-going research on a range of topics (e.g., the lexicon, grammar and variation and change in British Sign Language) with colleagues Kearsy Cormier, Gab Hodge and Max Barber (University College London) as well as Jordan Fenlon (Heriot-Watt University) using data from the BSL Corpus Project ( I also continue to collaborate with Trevor Johnston in Sydney, Australia, on research using the Auslan Corpus.

Education/Academic qualification

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Sydney

    Issues in the analysis of polycomponential verbs in Australian Sign Language

    1995 - 2001
  • Master of Letters, University of Sydney

    1990 - 1991
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Sydney

    1984 - 1988

Professional Qualifications

  • Diploma in Interpreting (Australian Sign Language/English), Dip.Interp (Auslan/English)

    Feb 1996 - Nov 1996

Willingness to take PhD students


PhD projects

I am currently working with PhD students working on size and shape specifier signs in Russian Sign Language (Maria Kyuseva), on issues in interpretation between African-American Vernacular English and American Sign Language (Sharon Hill) and on co-speech gestures in Polish/English bilinguals (Paulina Poplawksa). I also have a masters student studying mouthing in Greek Sign Language (Ioanna Tsourma).

I am primarily interested in supervising students with an interest in sign language linguistics, gesture studies, as well as sociolinguistic variation and change in both spoken and signed languages.