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Winter Storm 2019

Welcome to Winter Storm 2019! Winter Storm is the UMD Language Science community’s yearly two-week series of seminars and workshops designed to foster research skills, stimulate new interdisciplinary research projects, and boost career growth and job readiness. These workshops are FREE and open to all language scientists, encompassing undergraduates, research assistants, grad students, postdocs, faculty members, and researchers at affiliated research institutes.

When: January 15-17 and 22-24
Where: Language Science Center (2130 H.J. Patterson)
Please register by December 31!

This year we have a full slate of writing, research, professional development, methods, policy, and community-building. We are also very excited to welcome Laura Wagner (OSU Psychology) as an invited speaker on Wednesday, January 23. Her research examines language acquisition and intersects with many aspects of the research in our own community, including children’s acquisition of event semantics and their encoding of dialect and register to understand social indexical meanings. We also have a longstanding relationship with Laura because of her unique expertise in language science outreach efforts: she directs a research lab at the Columbus Center of Science and Industry in an innovative partnership that combines research with public education about language science.

Schedule overview


Program details

Professional development - We will start each day with sessions designed to provide training and/or begin conversations about skills relevant for many language science careers, ranging from methods for supporting neurodivergent students in teaching and mentoring to better ways to reason about effect sizes.

‘Cocoaloquium’ - We've heard that some language scientists feel they have to choose between Winter Storm and ‘getting their research done’ during the winter break. This year we are offering you a way to do both! Join us for two solid hours of writing time a day—you write your papers while we provide the cocoa, coffee, and peer pressure.

lunch-without-talks - While great lunch talks are a staple of the LSC, sometimes standing in the lunch line together before a talk doesn’t feel like enough time to really get to know others in the community. This year we are trying lunch-without-talks during WS to allow more time for us to meet and catch up on research with each other. The one exception will be on Wednesday January 23, where we will host a lunch discussion with our invited speaker Laura Wagner about her unique approach to science communication and outreach.

Research discussions - We have a number of research groups planned so far this year, but we would still welcome late additions! Anyone is welcome to attend these discussions, but if you plan to attend we ask that you email the contact person in advance so you can be in the loop on readings and so they can better plan the sessions.

  • Reading as Statistical Learning - We will read and discuss articles addressing how learning to read can be considered as learning statistical regularities and how reading ability is related to statistical learning. Group members can bring in readings for discussion, aiming to identify gaps in the literature. We hope to generate new research questions and ideas. Contact person: Annie Li - yixunli@terpmail.umd.edu
  • Events and Semantic Architecture - We will read and discuss Paul Pietroski’s 2005 book Events and Semantic Architecture. The author will likely be able to join us for at least one session to answer questions. Contact person: Adam Liter - io@adamliter.org
  • Exploring the Contribution of Executive Functions and Social Cognition to Literacy Development - Join us for this roundtable discussion on Wednesday January 16, which will feature brief presentations on theory and methods followed by time for questions. Contact person: Jennifer McCathern - jennifer.marie.mcc@gmail.com
  • Utility of Brain Signals for Language Science - We will review and discuss which are the most successful cases of brain signals providing insight into research questions relating to language. Contact person: Ben Rickles - brickles@terpmail.umd.edu
  • Language + Computation paper clinic - On Thursday, January 17: as paper submission deadlines for CogSci and machine learning (ICML) conferences approach, we will join together to read and provide feedback on each other’s drafts.  Drafts of journal articles or grant proposals on related topics are also welcome.  Please bring three hard copies of your paper to the clinic.  All are welcome, even if you are not submitting a paper—you can learn a lot from this process, while also helping your colleagues improve their papers! Contact person: Naomi Feldman - nhf@umd.edu
  • New approaches to neural measurements of auditory lexical processing - This reading group will discuss a small set of recent EEG and MEG studies (several authored by group members!) which explore novel experimental and analytical approaches that provide insight into the timecourse of auditory lexical processing. Contact person: Phoebe Gaston - pgaston@umd.edu

Policy discussions - This year we have reserved an afternoon block for interest groups to meet on issues of policy that relate to language science. Again anyone is welcome to attend these discussions. So far we have two interest groups planning to meet, but if there are any others we would be happy to add them to the schedule.

  • Bias in Linguistics - We will use this time to further new and ongoing Bias in Linguistics projects, including but not limited to publishing and publicizing findings, looking at parental leave policies across institutions, etc. All are welcome to join, even if you are not currently an active member of the group. Contact person: TBA.
  • Dialect diversity - TBA. Contact person: Zach Maher - zach@umd.edu

Methods - This year we have a multi-session statistics workshop scheduled, and parallel single-session workshops in Python and in several neuro analysis methods. Definitely email the contact person in advance so that you can make sure that you have any necessary software set up before the session!

  • Statistics workshop - This workshop will consist of hands-on practice analyzing one or more data sets that interested graduate students have, with a focus on linear mixed effects modeling and NHST and Bayesian power analysis. Contact person:
  • Python workshop - TBA.
  • MEG analysis workshop - TBA.
  • Pytorch tutorial - On January 15 and 17 our own Jordan Boyd-Graber provides a tutorial on Pytorch, an open source Python library for machine learning. Contact person: Jordan - jbg@umiacs.umd.edu

WS 2019 organizing committee:

Yi Ting Huang (HESP)
Ellen Lau (LING)
Alexander Williams (LING)