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I was still in grad school when Linguist List was born, essentially as a discussion forum then. And I remember with fondness what a thrilling leap into the world of virtual communication it was at that time, and how I devoured most of the discussions that quickly started to pop up on all sorts of topics and often among people I was not likely to ever meet in person. Things have of course developed from there and it’s great to see that we still have this indispensable and very professionally run service, richer than ever. Please let’s keep it going!
Especially now that there is some hope of gradually returning to a more normal academic life. Being reduced to zoom meetings for so long has shown us real limits of the online mode of communication: e.g. when we need to brainstorm with colleagues about projects, teach practical hands-on courses, or just enjoy a friendly gab in between conference talks. But to be fair, this unwelcome disruption has brought some pleasant surprises, too: mundane work meetings turned out to be more efficient this way; I saw enrollment almost doubled in my classes, bringing in students who normally wouldn’t touch linguistics with a ten-foot pole (did they have more time on their hands now?, was it easier from the comfort of their homes?, did they feel less ‘on the spot’ than in the classroom?, or…?); not to mention that the whole experience has forced us to be more creative in the ways we do things...
I am delighted to support this year's fund drive for the LINGUIST List.
While preparing this text, I had a look at the pieces from previously featured linguists and noticed
that I share some characteristics with Adele Goldberg and Colin Phillips: we all had a passion for
mathematics. I was a member of the Mathematische Schülergesellschaft (MSG) run by researchers from
the Humboldt University from the fifth grade onwards. When I was 13, I applied to the Heinrich Hertz
Oberschule, which is a school with a specialization in mathematics (nine hours of math each
week). Back then two to four pupils out of 30 could go to the Extended Secondary School and getting
a place on this special school was even more competitive. There were two tests: a math examination,
which I finished with 100%, and a political talk, which I failed. They asked me whether I would want
to serve in the army for an extended period of time (three years instead of one and a half), and I
told them that I never thought about this question but that I thought it was a bad idea. Since the
GDR expected loyalty of those who were allowed to these extended schools and those who were allowed
to study, I was rejected. I am very grateful to my parents who left no stone unturned in order to
get me into this school. They got certificates from my math teacher and from the MSG, and I had a
second chance interview on political issues with the principal of my school. I told them that it was
my deepest wish to serve in the army for three years (sarcasm)...
The scientific study of language has opened a unique window into the brain and developed into an integral part of understanding the neurological processes and cognitive functioning of humans. In particular, the subfield of second language acquisition and its intersections with cognitive psychology and neuroscience have created the space for researchers to work together towards a future of better supporting learners of all backgrounds and experiences, by enhancing their cognition.
Building on the current literature, my greatest curiosity stems from the relations between psychophysiology and second language acquisition. My research questions include the role of sleep-dependent memory consolidation in language learning, the effect of slow, deep breathing and oxygen saturation on students’ focus and attention in the foreign language classroom, and the efficacy of cardiorespiratory synchronization in facilitating hippocampal improvement when acquiring a second language.
Currently, I am working to bridge these interdisciplinary research gaps under the guidance of my incredible mentor professors through my B.A. honors thesis, in which I analyze...
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