Dr Karen Mulak

Research Program: Brain Sciences


Adjunct Researcher


MARCS BabyLab.


Karen Mulak is Health Scientist at the National Institutes of Health in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Her academic work explores the processes behind real-world language processing, which can contain considerable variation and noise. Her thesis work addressed this by investigating children’s developing ability to recognize words produced in an unfamiliar accent, which can contain considerable phonetic variation compared to the child’s native accent. From 2015-2018 Dr. Mulak trained as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Language Learning and Processing within the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, situated at the MARCS Institute. There she investigated how exposure to two or more languages or accents affects word learning and the perception of speech sounds, and how monolinguals perceive speech sounds and learn and recognize words in accents and languages other than their own. Before beginning her position at NIH in August of 2021, Karen worked as a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Maryland, where she examined how noisy environments affect children and adults’ ability to learn and recognize words, and how children’s developing attentional control may support these processes.

Research Interests

  • L1 and L2 acquisition of words and speech sounds
  • Cross-accent speech perception
  • Speech perception in noise

Qualifications and Honours

  • PhD, Psycholinguistics, University of Western Sydney
  • BS, Neuroscience, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, United States



Home University/Employer

National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States

Contact Karen

Email k.mulak@westernsydney.edu.au