Linguistics alumnus uses big data for social good


Elisha Cooper is a Simon Fraser University alumnus from Linguistics and Political Science. She has used her background in language and security to explore different, intersecting paths in big data. Cooper’s work on projects run through a Vancouver-based national security think-tank shows how important it is to look at the massive amounts of human-created and human-centred data from the perspective of the social sciences.

Elisha Cooper grew up surrounded by diverse cultures and languages through the international students hosted in her home. As a teenager, she started volunteering at a local international college and began tutoring a child of one of the college in English. She immediately fell in love with the bridging element of language instruction. Seeing the “aha-moments” of a young child figuring out how this new language worked inspired Cooper to consider a career in teaching.

Cooper took her first linguistics course at the University of Victoria without knowing much about the subject. After being introduced to topics like the International Phonetic Alphabet and the physiology of speech production, Cooper recognized the important role linguistic content can play in teaching. “I realized I was given this incredible tool to make language learning more accessible, which in my mind would make me a better instructor,” says Cooper, “so I became a linguistics major.”

Read more on the Department of Linguistics web site ...

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