Dr. Bodo Winter, UC Merced Ph.D. Graduate, presenting his research at the 2016 International Society for Gesture Studies in Paris.

Dr. Bodo Winter, recent graduate of the CIS Ph.D. program, has begun a new position as a professor in the United Kingdom. This exciting opportunity will allow Bodo to start his own laboratory and expand his program of research and teaching at a new institution. We asked Bodo a few questions about his experiences leading into this exciting and prestigious new opportunity.

1) Where and in what department is your new position?

I am at the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics at the University of Birmingham, my position is a “Lecturer in Cognitive Linguistics,” which is UK lingo for assistant professor.

2) What new research projects will you be taking on there? How do they relate to your dissertation work at Merced?

A lot of my work will be following up on my dissertation work on sensory language. I am planning to continue to do large-scale quantitative analysis of sensory words such as “fragrant”, “musky” and “rough”, addressing questions such as, how many sensory words are there for each modality, and what are the linguistic properties of these words? How did the usage of these words change in the history of English? (for example smell words becoming less frequent over the last 200 years) A lot of the work will also be on sensory metaphors such as “smooth taste” or “sweet melody” which combine sensory modalities. So, generally, I’ll be continuing to work in the domains of cognitive linguistics, metaphor theory, lexical semantics and embodied cognition, with side projects in language evolution and gesture.

I will be joining the Corpus Statistics Group at the University of Birmingham which includes linguists, statisticians and mathematicians and has a shared high-performance computer for running some more elaborate large-scale analysis of sensory language.

In the long run I plan to set up a “sensory language lab” where sensory stimuli such as tastants, odorants and touch surfaces will be used to elicit verbal descriptions and metaphors of sensory impressions from hearing, deaf and blind people. But that’s more long-term.

3) How did the CIS program prepare you for this position?

In any way possible. The CIS program made the transition to faculty very smooth as graduate students are treated with respect and given a lot of responsibility and freedom. The CIS program also gave me many skill sets that I acquired through various classes and through collaborations with other students and various faculty members. And most importantly, the CIS faculty and my advisor Teenie Matlock were extremely supportive when it comes to being creative and exploring and pursuing new ideas. I felt that I had a lot of freedom to develop my own ideas together with students and faculty.

Congrats new Prof. Winter!