Spotlight: Graduate NSF Awardees


Marty van Schijndel, Kodi Weatherholtz, Evan Jaffe and Stephanie Antetomaso

This year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is celebrating the 60th anniversary  of their Graduate Research Fellowship. This is a competitive and prestigious award, with more than  14,000 applications in all eligible fields this year and only 2,000 awardees. Ohio State Linguistics is honored to have a long tradition of receipt of the fellowship, with many awardees along with recipients of honorable mention among our current students and alums.

Currently, there are five linguistics graduate students who hold NSF graduate awards- four with the GRFP, and one with a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Award in Linguistics. Kodi Weatherholtz was awarded the GRFP in 2011 for his proposal Socially-motivated speech segmentation: Effects of social expectations on comprehension. Marten van Schijndel won the award in 2013 (General Memory Constraints in Language). This year, both Stephanie Antetomaso (Joint learning of phonemic categories, word segmentation and lexical acquisition given acoustic data) and Evan Jaffe (A Vector Semantic Model with Semantic Input) were awarded fellowships. Jane Mitsch also was awarded a Ling-DDRI this year for her project Linguistic and Political borders in the Senegambia region.

NSF graduate awards are prestigious, but they also provide funding and the academic freedom that comes with it. Marten van Schijndel says, “I'm anticipating having more time to pursue interesting lines of research with longer-term goals. I've been enjoying picking up projects that I mothballed a year ago because they weren't central to my deadlines and I just didn't have time to work on them. These projects have the potential to greatly increase the scope of my thesis and other future work.”

For Jane Mitsch, the award has meant more freedom to travel for her fieldwork. She says, “My Dissertation Improvement Award allowed me to supplement my fieldwork time in Senegal and The Gambia to get a deeper ethnographic understanding of language use in the borderlands. I was able to conduct interviews in ten villages and also have  been able to use some remaining funds for transcription services for my Wolof recordings.”

Evan Jaffe adds, “I’m also happy that it potentially frees up funds for teaching and travel for others, and allows more work to be done in the department in addition to my own.”