PhD Students

Beth Phillips (ResearchGate)

Areas of interest: Artificial grammar learning, formal grammar theory, psycholinguistics


PhD Thesis:
My PhD will focus on artificial grammar learning, specifically the experimental methodology of AGL studies. I will also be using AGL paradigms to test formal languages, including the Chomsky Hierarchy and Lindenmayer systems, investigating their learnability and any similarities in processing of these to processing of natural languages.

Alex Sheehan (Linkedin)

Areas of interest: Experience-dependent neuroplasticity, Bilingual brain development, The bilingual cognitive advantage & cognitive reserve, Structural & functional connectivity, Linguistic experience


PhD Thesis: My PhD project will investigate the impact of linguistic experience on structural and functional brain connectivity, and neural efficiency. A structural vs. functional connectivity analysis will first be conducted using diffusion and resting-state MRI, followed by a functional connectivity analysis using resting-state EEG, and finally, a neural efficiency analysis using ERP measurements. The project will examine specific aspects of linguistic experience (language use, AoA, proficiency, etc.) and their relative effects on brain function and efficiency by using non-linear effects modelling.

Debra Page (ResearchGate, Google Scholar)

Areas of Interest: Bi/multilingualism, English as an Additional Language, primary and secondary education, child development, peer mentoring, peer brokering.


PhD Thesis: My PhD project is an evaluation the Young Interpreter Scheme (YIS). The Young Interpreter Scheme is an award-winning scheme created by Hampshire Ethnic Minority and Traveller Advisory Service – the Collaborative Partner in this project. The specific mission of the YIS is to facilitate the transition to school for children who are new to English, i.e. novice EAL (English as an Additional Language) learners. Their role is to act as mentors to novice EAL learners in everyday school activities. The scheme has now been adopted throughout the UK in more than 800 primary and secondary schools. This is the first time the successful scheme will be systematically evaluated since it began 10 years ago. The aims are to 1) address the impact of the YIS on related educational and linguistic levels (language use, empathy and intercultural awareness) and 2) collect survey information from teachers and other school staff about their experience of the YIS.

Tamara Schmidt (ResearchGate)

Areas of Interest: Pragmatics, Language acquisition Child language development, Speech Acts, Psycholinguistics


PhD Thesis:
My PhD thesis explores various aspects of communicative-pragmatic development that become evident in the production of speech acts. This exceeds verbal behaviour and linguistics, and includes nonverbal and paraverbal behaviour as well as cognitive and social-emotional skills. In a cross-sectional descriptive study the relationships between the above developmental areas will be explored in 2-3-year-old English-speaking children to inform developmental trajectories of the multi-facetted area of pragmatic development.

Shatha Alaskar (Open Science Framework)

Areas of Interest: Psycholinguistics, in particular native and non-native language processing; sentence comprehension in adults; L2 acquisition; Bilingualism


PhD Thesis: My PhD research investigates native (L1) and non-native (L2) sentence comprehension and the factors that may affect L2 speakers’ processing of sentences in real-time. Inspired by the increasing interest in the working memory mechanisms that underpin sentence comprehension, I will specifically look into the extent to which non-native processing is influenced by the memory retrieval process involved during real-time dependency formation as compared to native processing using offline and online measures. A better understanding of the parsing mechanism used by L2 speakers might reveal the nature of L1/L2 processing differences and also explain the target-deviant L2 performance occasionally observed in L2 acquisition literature.