26 Bedford Way
Div of Psychology & Lang Sciences
My research investigates the interaction between language learning, culture and modality. In my PhD I used a novel experimental paradigm, artificial sign language learning, to explore the effects of socio-cultural pressures on the evolution of systematic linguistic structure, drawing links between my own experimental work and research on natural sign language systems. I am further interested in understanding iconicity in evolving systems, how iconicity and systematicity are responses to different cultural pressures, and how these cultural pressures operate over the evolutionary trajectory of emerging languages. Finally, I am interested in the effect that different types of learning populations have on the emergence of linguistic structure, and how learning in the individual can have an impact at the population level.
I received my PhD from the University of Edinburgh earlier this year. I worked with my supervisors, Simon Kirby, Kenny Smith and Marieke Schouwstra on devising a novel methodology that combines the experimental paradigms of silent gestures and iterated learning, to investigate language evolution in the manual modality - called artificial sign language learning. Following my doctoral work, I spent the first half of 2017 as a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, working in a group of young career researchers brought together in the language and cognition department by Stephen Levinson to study the interactive mechanisms involved in the evolution of language. In June, I joined the Language and Cognition lab headed by Gabriella Vigliocco, working on an ESRC-funded project investigating the effects of multi-modal iconicity on child language development.