HLP Lab is grinking 2014

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And it’s that time of the year again. Time to take stock. This last year has seen an unusual amount of coming and going. It’s been great to have so many interesting folks visit or spend time in the lab.


  • Masha Fedzechkina defended her thesis, investigation what artificial language learning can tell us about the source of (some) language universals. She started her post-doc at UPenn, where she’s working with John Trueswell and Leila Gleitman. See this earlier post.
  • Ting Qian successfully defended his thesis on learning in a (subjectively) non-stationary world (primarily advised by Dick Aslin and including some work joint with me). His thesis contained such delicious and ingenious contraptions as the Hibachi Grill Process, a generalization of the Chinese Restaurant Process, based on the insight that the order of stimuli often contains information about the structure of the world so that a rational observer should take this information into account (unlike basically all standard Bayesian models of learning). Check out his site for links to papers under review. Ting’s off to start his post-doc with Joe Austerweil at Brown University.


  • As already mentioned in a previous post, Klinton Bicknell joined our Center of Language Sciences for one year as a post-doc, before starting his tenture-track in Linguistics at Northwestern University.
  • Scott Fraundorf just arrived (well, in October) to join us as a post-doctoral researchers, but –being the busy bee he is– he is already off again. He’s starting his tenture-track position in Psychology at Pittsburgh University.
  • Bozena Pajak finished her post-doc at the Center of Language Sciences, jointly advised by Dick Aslin and me. After relentless piloting, Bozena’s new line of research on generalization during the learning of morphological rules, yielded an interesting new paradigm that she just started to explore. She also is about to resubmit an overview paper, linking implicit statistical learning during L1 processing to L2 acquisition –describing both as a form of inference under uncertainty about the appropriate generative models. Bozena left us just a few weeks ago to start her research faculty position in Linguistics at Northwestern University.


  • Hossein Karimi visited us from Fernanda Ferreira’s Lab at the University of South Carolina. In addition to pampering us with delicious kebab, he shared this thoughts on language production and comprehension.
  • Guillermo Montero Melis visited us from the Center of Research on Bilingualism at the University of Stockholm. He presented his work on “Talking and thinking about motion in L2” at Rochester, Buffalo, and at Daniel Casasanto’s lab at the University of Chicago. Guillermo is taking a novel quantitative and semi-automatic approach to questions about the influence of language background on non-verbal cognition and perception.
  • Job Schepens visited us for a few months from the Center of Language Studies at Radboud University, sponsored by a “promovendi” Fulbright grant.  Job introduced us to his work on how language background affects the learning of new languages. Job’s work takes a novel approach to this question, drawing on a large database of over 50, 000 second and third language learners of Dutch. Check out his website for some example publications. A new paper focusing on phonetic/phonological similarity is in the works. We are also working on a paper that assesses how much of the variance in individual’s ability to learn a new language is simply due to language background (rather than, say, length of exposure or age of acquisition). Job is finishing his PhD thesis at Radboud University.

Luckily, it’s not all about leaving. We hope to see y’all soon again. In the meantime, HLP Lab is getting support from two new graduates:

  • Linda Liu is joining us from the University of Chicago, where she finished her B.A. in Linguistics. She is interested in computational and experimental approaches to investigate sentence comprehension, accent adaptation, and how listeners form structural generalizations across speaker groups. Linda also has interests in computational modeling, prosody, and cross-modality/domain work, e.g. sign language and music cognition.
  • Zach Burchill is joining us from the UPenn, where he finished his B.A. in Linguistics. He’s interested in adaptation, production, and comprehension.

Congratulations to y’all and welcome to the ‘newbies’ =). Brace for impact!

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