Language Symposium Builds Synergies across Researchers, Disciplines and Institutions

The UC Davis Cluster on Language Research symposium in May forged an important bridge between researchers from across distinct research traditions, goals, methods and California research institutions.

The second annual UC Davis Symposium on Language Research, held at UC Davis on May 22, 2015 and co-sponsored by the Institute for Social Sciences, attracted 126 participants with 36 papers featured from California universities and institutes that included UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine. What was unique is that about a quarter of the attendees came from over 15 institutions other than UC Davis.

“The attendance reflects the Cluster on Language Research’s conscious decision to broaden the appeal of what was primarily a local conference last year,” said Kimberly Morris, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. She is the 2014-15 co-chair of the Cluster on Language Research with Emily Moline, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Linguistics.

The symposium’s presenters included graduate students and faculty from seven different academic departments: Linguistics, Spanish, French, Education, TESOL/English, and Modern Languages and Literatures.  In addition to the Davis, Berkeley and Irvine UC campuses, presenters came from UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, University of the Pacific, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, SF State, CSU East Bay and CSU Long Beach.

The event was focused on interdisciplinary work on language research. The three finalists for the most innovative conference presentation came from the fields of linguistics (UC Davis), psychology (UC Berkeley), and education (UC Berkeley).

Keynote speaker Nick Ellis is a professor of psychology and linguistics at the University of Michigan. His research focus is on cognitive psychology with an interest in dyslexia, aphasia, and first-language acquisition as well as work in second language acquisition.

“Ellis’s talk was symbolic of the cluster’s new synergism,” said Moline. “His lecture on the future of usage-based approaches to language research and language acquisition held the audience spellbound.”

The interdisciplinary UC Davis Cluster on Language Research supports research and collaboration in the field of language. Comprised of faculty and graduate students from Languages and Literatures, the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education, this research group facilitates a space in which members read and discuss relevant literature, present and develop their research, organize colloquia and invite guest speakers.

In addition to ISS, this year's symposium co-sponsors included the Davis Humanities Institute, Davis Language Center (DLC), School of Education, Graduate Student Association, the Graduate Group in Linguistics, UC Davis Student Affairs, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Student Recruitment and Retention Center, the Department of Psychology and the Department of Linguistics.