University of Edinburgh (2008-2017, for various degrees), Universite Paris-Diderot (2010-2011, year abroad)
PhD, Linguistics and English Language; MSc, Evolution of Language and Cognition; MA, French and English Language; a few GCSEs and A-levels
UCL- Researcher; Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics - Researcher; University of Edinburgh - Tutor; Edinburgh - Bookseller
Postdoctoral researcher, UCL
Experimental Psychology, University College London
Favourite thing to do in my job: Talking to people about the amazing ways we use our bodies to communicate
I'm a researcher that looks at the wonderful world of language. I am also a person who reads a lot, that swims and dances and bakes and does karaoke.
I am a researcher in experimental psychology at UCL, where I work with children and adults to look at how we use information about the world in language learning. Out of work, I like to go to the cinema and read books, and I do a lot of baking (and, consequently, eating). I like to swim, which I mostly do in the swimming pool, but I always enjoy a trip up to Scotland to swim in a cold loch!
My research looks at how the language we use is shaped by what we need from it - both on the timescale of a single life and an evolutionary timescale. To me, speech is just one possible channel through which we communicate with each other!
My research looks at how language has adapted to be learnt and used by children in language learning and by adults over longer, evolutionary timescales. I focus not just on speech, but how the body might also help us to communicate with each other, and how we can use language to create a link between the things we can see and feel in the real world and the ideas we want to communicate in our heads.
My Typical Day
I do reading, writing, programming, filming, talking, teaching, marking and eating.
The work I do in my job means I get to practice lots of skills. I have to read a lot of scientific material, to stay up to date on the literature. I get to write papers, so that I can share my research with the scientific community. I design and run experiments, often which involve filming participants doing different language-related tasks. On some days, I travel round London to run experiments with parents and children in people’s homes.
I use the programming language Python to shape and analyse my data, and draw graphs that I can use to show people my results. I also get to do a lot of talking, either in teaching students or giving presentations to other researchers.
My favourite CHRISTMAS LECTURE memory is:
Finding out this year's lectures were about LANGUAGE
How does technology threaten your privacy?
Technology is a beautiful thing that can provide access to the world for people that would otherwise be isolated. I am worried that we don't always understand how our information is being used, and that there are those who seek to use our private data to control the very people these technologies should help.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
pocket sized researcher
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
I had the great opportunity to visit several different research groups in the US, travelling around and giving talks at different universities. I met so many different people and saw the different ways that researchers work.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
All my teachers and lecturers over the years who shared their amazing knowledge and encouraged me to find my own answers
What did you want to be after you left school?
A literary translator
Were you ever in trouble at school?
No. However hard I tried...
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What is the most fun thing you've done?
snorkelling in the "River of Anacondas" in Brazil (important: I did not see any anacondas)
Tell us a joke.
The past, the present and the future walked into a bar. It was tense.