November 23, 2021

Linguistics Undergraduate Students Expand their Horizons through Research Assistantships

This fall, SFU Linguistics launched a pilot program aimed at expanding research opportunities for undergraduate students. The program provides department stipends to select students with no prior Research Assistant (RA) experience. We spoke with two of this semester’s recipients—Sahibnoor Kaur Dhami and Samantha Sundby—to learn about their experiences so far.

Sahibnoor Kaur Dhami has been working with Dr. Ashley Farris Trimble in the Phonological Processing Lab on the Learning Opacity project, which tracks children’s acquisition of complex phonological processes. Describing her work in the lab, Sahibnoor said that in addition to familiarizing herself with the project, her work so far has involved testing and giving feedback on the design of experiments. “At this point, we have begun to collect data for the project, which has been super exciting! I've started taking notes to record data during experiments, and I'm hoping to run the experiment with participants soon!”

She continued, “So far, I've enjoyed learning about all the different projects at the Phonological Processing Lab the most. It's fascinating to learn about the various topics of research. I've also really enjoyed meeting and getting to work collaboratively with fellow lab members. Overall, I'm grateful for the opportunity to be working at the Phonological Processing Lab and to gain this valuable research experience.”

Samantha Sundby has been investigating the language behaviour of aphasics with Dr. John Alderete. This two-semester RAship examines language behaviour through one-word production tasks, spontaneous speech, and word retrieval tasks by exploring open data sets and building computational models.

According to Samantha, “So far, the first two months of the RAship have involved extensive literature searches and creating summaries, to learn and understand more about the topic of language of aphasics. I have some prior knowledge of the topic from course projects and from working with stroke survivors; however, each and every day I continue to learn something new! The research is vast! I am grateful to be working alongside Dr. John Alderete as I receive direct feedback, advice, and support—something we all need to improve and become better researchers! This experience has further increased my interest in the research community, especially for those who are living with aphasia.”

Interested in a volunteer or RA position with a Linguistics lab?

The application period for the Spring semester will run from November 22-30.

Learn more here.