Charles Greer


Charles Greer was a graduate student in Slavic Linguistics from 1994 until 2001. He received his B.A. at Yale. In 2001, he assumed a full time position as Geographic Information Systems Analyst for the County of Sonoma. Over the years, he worked as solutions architect, software developer, software systems analyst, and software engineer in the private and public sectors. He works with “Big Data” (amassing empirical data and using new kinds of data stores to make sense of it), which he finds strikingly similar to how our brain deals with linguistic data. By studying linguistic change and the relationships between languages at Berkeley, Charles (he feels) was unwittingly preparing for work with systems architecture and data architecture, and for modeling robust, open-ended software. In his words, “Both languages and software exhibit characteristics of systems, but are only manifest as dynamic interactions. Software systems and linguistic systems are in other words dirty, humbling, and inextricably linked to human experience.. . . In short, a degree in Slavic Linguistics not only made my mind a more interesting place to live; it also prepared me to survive and thrive in a technical career that nobody had any idea would even exist fifteen years ago. I suspect that there are a large number of people with extraordinary research, teaching, and data analysis skills who don’t realize they’ve been so well prepared for a wider career than they expected. This note is to serve as an encouragement to both graduate students in the humanities and to those who make such rich programs possible–you’re doing the right thing.”

Charles lives with his wife Abigail Evans (also a former Berkeley graduate student) and their two sons and daughter in rural Sonoma county.