The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, May 30th, 2011

Banting Fellowship for Jessica Coon

Jessica Coon (PhD 2010), who we earlier announced has accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor position at McGill University, has also been awarded a Banting Post-Doctoral Fellowship, which will allow her to begin her career at McGill with two years devoted mainly to research.   Described informally by a colleague as “the Nobel prize of post-docs”, the goal of the Banting fellowship program is “to attract and retain top-tier postdoctoral talent, both nationally and internationally, to develop their leadership potential and to position them for success as research leaders of tomorrow”.  As a Banting Fellow, Jessica will be collaborating with McGill’s Lisa Travis (MIT PhD 1984) on an investigation of an array of surprising syntactic parallels between Mayan and Austronesian languages. Congratulations Jessica!

Semester Wrap-Up

Our graduating linguistics majors!

Linguistics majors and double-majors Alyssa Kersting, Anna Goldie and Rafael Raya will all be receiving their S.B next week. Congratulations to all!!

Summer Pause

This is the last issue of this academic year. Whamit! will resume publication on Tuesday, Sept 6.

Have a nice summer!

A grand “stepping down” bash to honor Department head Irene Heim

To celebrate Irene’s outstanding achievements as Head of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy for the past three years (which followed three great years as Section Head of Linguistics), the department threw a spectacular gala party last Monday.
Irene’s work as section head was lauded by Dean Deborah Fitzgerald, incoming department head Richard Holton, incoming linguistics section head David Pesetsky and the department Administrative Officer Mary Grenham — as well as by several tons of great food and a big cake.
The party had a “gardening theme” (there were smoked salmon treats in edible spades) and Irene received several presents from a grateful department, including the traditional Bosch 1617EVSPK 12 Amp 2-1/4-Horsepower Plunge and Fixed Base Variable Speed Router Kit with 1/4-Inch and 1/2-Inch Collets, without which no term as department head could be complete. (Spies told us that this is what Irene most wanted!)
Irene ponders her presents
But the most memorable laudatio, and the culmination of the grand event, was provided by a band of linguistically minded ukulele players who wandered in off the street and decided to play for us on the spur of the moment:

L to R: Iain Giblin, Sam Steddy, Coppe van Urk, mitcho Erlewine, Edwin Howard
photo credits: mitcho Erlewine & Hrayr Khanjian

Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics (FASL 20) a success!

The department was proud to host the 20th meeting of Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics (FASL).  The conference, which ran from May 13-15, was a resounding success, drawing linguists from 13 countries and 3 continents to MIT.  The presentations included invited talks by four of MIT’s own: professors Donca Steriade and Morris Halle (who was introduced by Noam Chomsky), visiting professor Sergei Tatevosov from Moscow State University, and recent alum Ivona Ku?erová (now at McMaster University in London, Ontario).   Thanks to all presenters, attendees, and organizers for making FASL 20 such a success!