CRL Newsletter

Vol. 21, No. 2

June 2009


CRL Highlights

Congratulations to Gabriela Simon-Cereijido, from the Joint Doctoral Program, who recently defended her PhD dissertation, "Verb argument structure deficits in Spanish-speaking preschoolers with specific language impairment who are English language learners". Gabriela is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders at California State University, Los Angeles, and a fellow in the NCRECE Research Mentoring Program for Minority Scholars.

Congratulations to Josée Poirier, from the Joint Doctoral Program, who recently defended her PhD dissertation. Her dissertation was entitled "Finding Meaning in Silence: The comprehension of ellipsis." Josée is now a Post-Doctoral Scientist with the Université de Picardie Jules-Verne, in Amiens, France, where she's examining the neural networks underlying cognitive processing in a wide range of neurological diseases.

Congratulations to Alycia Cummings, from the Joint Doctoral Program, who recently defended her PhD dissertation. Her dissertation was entitled "Brain and behavior in children with phonological disorders: Phonological, lexical, and sensory system interactions." Alycia is now an Assistant Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of North Dakota.

Congratulations to Ursula Bellugi! Ursula, a long-time member of the CRL community, was recently inducted into the National Academy of Sciences for her ongoing work on the foundations of language, and also received an honorary doctorate degree from Gallaudet University. For more details about Ursula's work, visit her webpage at

Congratulations to Shelley Marquez! Shelley is the 2009 recipient of the Betsy Faught Award. This is the most prestigious campus award given in recognition of outstanding achievement in management of a general campus academic unit. Shelley serves as chief administrative officer for the Center for Research in Language, Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind, Institute for Neural Computation, and executive director of the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center, and we are delighted at the recognition she receives through this award.

The award recognizes the professionalism and dedication of academic program managers and emphasizes their critical role on campus. The traits attributed to the awardees include the ability to bring people together; skill at analyzing and solving problems; sustained initiative and creativity; influential leadership and management skills; and recognized judgment and integrity.

Katie Alcock recently spent time with the CRL as a visiting researcher, while on a two-term sabbatical from the Psychology Department at Lancaster University.  Katie has published a Technical Report with some of her recent work in the most recent CRL Newsletter.

From 1998 to 2000, Katie worked with Liz Bates as a post-doc at the CRL, and during this most recent visit she was collaborating with Julia Evans from the SDSU school of Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences.  Katie has worked on a number of diverse projects, from a set of studies in Health and Culture, examining the effects of schooling on phonological awareness for children in developing countries, including Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda (where her proficiency in Swahili has certainly come in handy!), to projects examining how individual differences affect language development, both in the typical range, and also in the case of delayed development (as a PhD student, she was able to work directly with the KE family, supervised by Dick Passingham at Oxford).  A common theme to much of Katie's research is the strong interdependence between linguistic and non-linguistic abilities, and her work is driven by a passion to understand the factors outside language that drive its development.

It was great to have you back in San Diego, Katie!

We were very honored to have Susan Goldin-Meadow here at UCSD last Winter quarter, visiting the CRL! In addition to other talks around campus, Susan also gave a CRL Speaker Series talk on Feb 24. We hope to have you back again soon, Susan!

Susan Goldin-Meadow is the Bearsdley Ruml Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago where she is a member of the Departments of Psychology and Comparative Human Development and the Committee on Education. A year spent at the Piagetian Institute in Geneva while an undergraduate piqued her interest in the relation between language and thought, interests that she began to explore in her doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania.  At Penn and in collaboration with Lila Gleitman and Heidi Feldman, she began her studies exploring whether children who lack a (usable) model for language can nevertheless create a language with their hands.  She has found that deaf children whose profound hearing losses prevent them from learning the speech that surrounds them, and whose hearing parents have not exposed them to sign, invent gesture systems which are structured in language-like ways.   This interest in how the manual modality can serve the needs of communication and thinking led to her more recent work on the gestures that accompany speech in hearing individuals.  She has found that gesture can convey substantive information--information that is often not expressed in the speech it accompanies--and, as a result, can reveal secrets of the mind to those who pay attention.  Her two-pronged research program thus focuses on the home-made gestures that children create when not exposed to language, and the gestures that we all produce when we talk (and what they tell us about how we think)

The CRL conference room (CSB280) has recently undergone a complete 21st century makeover, including a new projector, projection screen, furniture, plasma display, ceiling-mounted speakers, media system, and standards-based video-conferencing system, including two wall-mounted cameras.

Congratulations to Victor Ferreira! Vic has been named the new editor-in-chief of the Journal of Memory and Language!

New Researchers at CRL

CRL welcomes professor John Haviland from the department of Anthropology as a new CRL researcher!

John Haviland is a linguistic anthropologist whose interests center on the social life of language, the mutual constitution talk, gesture, cultural expertise, and social structure.  His work ranges from grammatical description (Tzotzil [Mayan] from Chiapas, Mexico, Guugu Yimithirr [Paman] from north Queensland, Australia) to social history, and from the relationships between language and cognition (in particular, spatial conceptualization) to achieving social ends through linguistic (including gestural) means.  His current work involves documenting a first generation "family sign language" in Chiapas, understanding the verbal techniques of Mexico City street vendors, and the vicissitudes of language and law among immigrant speakers of Mexican indigenous languages in the USA.

CRL welcomes Hanna Gelfand to the Joint Doctoral Program in Language and Communicative Disorders!

Hanna graduated from New York University in May with a BA in Linguistics.  While attending NYU, she had the opportunity to work with two developmental psychologists, Dr. Gary Marcus and Dr. Athena Vouloumanos, conducting developmental language research.  Her honors thesis, under the tutelage of Dr. Vouloumanos, questioned the effect of the vocalizing source on infants' perception of speech.  She plans to continue to research language in developmental populations focusing on how children integrate available acoustic and speech-related visual information during speech perception.

CRL welcomes Philip Lai to the Joint Doctoral Program in Language and Communicative Disorders!

After graduating from UCSD's Cognitive Science program in 2005, Philip spent a year working in Jeanne Townsend's Lab in the Department of Neuroscience. Last year he completed his MA thesis on "Music and Emotion in Williams Syndrome" at SDSU, under the supervision of Judy Reilly and Ursula Bellugi. He is currently working with Judy Reilly in the Developmental Laboratory for Language and Cognition, studying non-verbal behavior and its integration with language in children who suffered a focal lesion due to a perinatal stroke.

Arielle Borovsky returned to the CRL as a post-doctoral fellow in June. Welcome back!

Arielle defended her Ph.D. dissertation last year. Her dissertation was entitled "Word learning in context: The role of lifetime language experience and sentential context." Those in the know said that it was beautifully investigated from a computational, behavioral, hemispheric, and electrophysiological perspective.


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