As part of my PhD in Russian Linguistics, I was encouraged to spend one semester abroad to get new input for my project. My dissertation concerns the various types of perfective verbs suggested to exist in Russian (Janda 2007), and I had started to explore this topic using corpus data. However, as time went by, I got more and more interested in how these verb types are organized in the minds of native speakers, and whether they exist on a cognitive level at all. For my research stay abroad I was therefore looking for people with competence in Slavic languages and cognitive linguistics as well as informant-based experiments. After meeting Dr. Dagmar Divjak in 2016, I got the idea to visit Sheffield, and, very luckily, I was able to come just when the Ooominds team was about start up.
Looking back at my three months with Ooominds, I see that I’ve gained many new perspectives that will help me in the time ahead. The Ooominds team consists of researchers with very different backgrounds and perspectives (cognitive linguistics, experimental design, Slavic languages, psychology, computational linguistics, phonetics, etc.). For me, it was extremely inspiring to work in an environment in which it was clear that people were always learning, always being challenged, and always challenging. And, to my surprise and joy, I was included, both on a professional and personal level: I shared office with the team members, was included at the group meetings, and was invited to share results from, and challenges in, my own research.
My time with the Ooominders have illustrated to me the importance of being open to think in new ways, learning from, and being challenged by, people with other academic backgrounds and perspectives. Also, I have been reminded that excellent research is the result of common efforts, in the case of Ooominds, accompanied by a great and genuine team spirit.