I was born in Gainesville, Florida and moved around a bit — notably with a stint in the greater Cincinnati area — before ending up in a small town near Madison, Wisconsin. During my time in south-central Wisconsin I spent some time as a member of both the (now-defunct) Capital Sound and (not-defunct) Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps (I played the tuba/contrabass). At Cornell University I was a member of the Cornell University Big Red Bands, where I served as both Marching Band Drum Major and Pep Band Conductor for one season.
Outside of work I basically only have time for fencing. I am a sabreur, a former member of MK Fencing Academy in Dubai, and a current member of (and assistant coach at) Renaissance Fencing Club in Troy, MI. I’m a licensed referee in all three fencing weapons and work as a national sabre referee in my spare time. Finally, I am the current Secretary of the Michigan Division of USA Fencing.
My wife, Bern Samko, is also a linguist (and former Jeopardy! contestant), now at Appen. My brother, Raymond is an assistant professor of psychology at LSU working on suicide risk assessment and prevention.