Research, Community

Janelle Adsit and Ashley Atkins Represent FASS at SFU’s Inaugural Postdoctoral Research Day

May 22, 2015

The SFU Postdoctoral Association (PDA) held its first Postdoctoral Research Day on May 20 at the IRMACS Centre on SFU’s Burnaby campus. The day’s two keynote speakers—Biologist and Kwantlen Polytechnic University faculty member, Dr. Carson Keever and Marine Ecologist, Dr. Philip Molloy–both hail from the sciences and spoke about career-building both within and outside academia. “Spotlight” panels and “Explorations” poster sessions featured a large number of postdoctoral researchers from the sciences including Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Health Sciences, and Earth Sciences while departments like Archeology, Business, English, Education, and Philosophy were also represented throughout the day’s activities.  

Philosophy postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Ashley Atkins, with her poster, "Modality as a Window into Cognition."

Two postdoctoral fellows from FASS departments, English’s Dr. Janelle Adsit and Philosophy’s Dr. Ashley Atkins, also participated in the “Explorations” poster and table segment of the day.  Atkins presented her poster, “Modality as a Window into Cognition,” and discussed her research on how linguistically-coded systems (language) connect to and interact with extra-linguistic cognition (thought).  Focusing on language expressions that “give rise” to multiple modal interpretations, “Mary is crossing the Atlantic,” for example, Atkins says that these expressions do not have linguistically-encoded modal meanings. Her conclusions posit that the “extra-linguistic cognition makes substantive contributions to our understanding of language.” Atkins, who received her PhD from Princeton in Fall 2014, co-organized the conference “Language at the Interface” with SFU Philosophy professor, Dr. James Martin in April 2015 and is pleased to report she has accepted a tenure-track, Assistant Professor position in Philosophy at Western Michigan University

The English department’s Janelle Adsit came to SFU in 2014 to do research on the Kootenay School of Writing (KSW) in SFU Library’s Special Collections. Adsit worked with SFU English professor and writer, Clint Burnham whose book, The Only Poetry That Matters: Reading the Kootenay School of Writing (Arsenal, 2011) is the only book-length piece of criticism on the Vancouver-based writers’collective. Adsit herself is a poet and her table in the afternoon “Explorations” session featured copies of her new book, Unremitting Entrance (Spuyten Duyvil, 2015). Adsit will also be teaching Creative Writing in Fall 2015, having accepted a tenure-track faculty position with the English department at Humboldt State University.

English postdoctoral fellow and poet, Dr. Janelle Adsit with her book, Unremitting Entrance.

As a researcher and creative writer in the Arts, Adsit says she really enjoyed connecting with postdoctoral researchers from other disciplines at the event and through her involvement with the PDA.   During her poster presentation, Atkins fielded questions from attendees in other disciplines like Linguistics, Psychology or Health Sciences and said although it was “challenging,” the experience reminded her of the relevance of her research outside her own discipline of Philosophy. SFU’s PDA was recently established in July 2014 with the goal of connecting postdoctoral fellows with one another, and improving the fellowship experience with events like practice job talks, professional development workshops, brown bag lunches and lectures, and events like Postdoctoral Research Day.

Reprinted with permission from the SFU FASS newsletter.

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