Sunday, July 1, 2007

The funnest part of academia: job gossip

OK, here are three happy messages about the job world in the TalkingBrains domain.

(1) There is a God, at least in Miami. Here is the evidence: One of the graduates of the UMD lingustics department, Ana Gouvea (Ph.D. 2002), worked as a post-doc in San Francisco (at UCSF and SFSU), started a family, began to retrain a bit to get more experience in acquisition and other more applied areas. Aa was principally working on sentence processing and language aquisition. A year or so ago, her husband Luca was moved by his company to Miami, and the family moved there. This is not an area known for its density of psycholinguistics ... But Ana is flexible and smart. She applied to a program at Florida International University to get an MA degree that would permit her to do clinical work. Hmmm, an M.A., eh? Well, they saw her application materials, and FIU decided that they would not admit her to the MA program -- instead they hired her as an assistant professor, on a tenure track line, in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders! Congratulations, Ana! Most successful MA application I've ever heard of :-)

(2) A new faculty member in linguistics at UMD. Valentine Hacquard is joining the department. Valentine, who got her Ph.D. at MIT and has been a visiting professor at U Mass Amherst, is a semanticist and can abstract lambdas with the best of them. But I am pretty sure that we can persuade her to play with us, too! Valentine already has strong cog neuro street cred: she did a phonetics/phonology MEG study with Alec Marantz when they were both at MIT.

Hacquard, V., Walter, M.A., Marantz, A. (2007). The effects of inventory on vowel perception in French and Spanish: an MEG study.
Brain Lang. 100(3):295-300.

(3) A new post-doc at the CNL at UMD. For a long time, I have been a fan of the work of Matti Laine. Now we have managed to recruit one of his student's a post-doc, Minna Lehtonen. Minna has done work using behavioral, imaging, and electrophysiological techniques and will help us continue research on lexical access and lexical structure.

A really nice example of her work is this recent ERP paper:

Minna Lehtonen, Toni Cunillera, Antoni Rodríguez-Fornells, Annika Hultén, Jyrki Tuomainen and Matti Laine (2007). Recognition of morphologically complex words in Finnish: Evidence from event-related potentials. Brain Research, 1148, 123-137.

We are all pretty persuaded (here at TalkingBrains East, at least ...) that morphological decomposition is demonstrable (early in the processing stream), for example based on the work of Rob Fiorentino (e.g. in Fiorentino & Poeppel, 2007, Compound words and structure in the lexicon, Language and Cognitive Processes). Minna has already been going after the next steps. Based on cross-lingustic studies that incorporate all kinds of cognitive neuroscience techniques, they have been going after the composition part ... It's great that we take words apart -- but how do we put them back together? A hard and good question. Good luck with that one Minna -- and welcome to the CNL lab!

1 comment:

Nina said...

Talking Brains, thank you for the blog!

Wrt to this post, I agree with every word of David ! Ana, imagine what could happen if you ever apply for a tenure-track directly... or a grant... or you name it... Congratulations again!