See below for the interview with the WiCS Logo Contest winner, Isidora Gatarić. We are so thankful to have had Isidora's creative contributions to WiCS, which has been a welcome addition to our webpage and presentations!
Q: What made you want to become a scientist?
A: When I was a first year bachelor student I attended the obligatory course taught by a remarkable scientist interested in language science, and that was the first time I met with the empirical and quantitative perspective in the investigation of language. His lectures, and my first steps as an undergraduate student researcher in the Laboratory for Experimental Psychology at the same University, were the greatest inspiration for me to want to become a young researcher. Furthermore, during my schooling I met the research team of brilliant linguists from the Department of English studies at the University of Novi Sad, from whom I have learned a lot about theoretical linguistics, and where I met some great people with whom I still collaborate. Finally, what essentially helped me to make my ultimate decision to become a scientist is Petnica Science Center (Serbia), where I am a Senior Associate at the Seminars in Linguistics.
Q: What is your educational background?
A: After completing my BA and MA studies in Psychology at the University of Novi Sad (Serbia), I have continued my education at the University of Belgrade (Serbia), where I am currently finishing my MSc in Computing in Social Sciences. I took my first steps in cognitive science and psycholinguistics at the University of Novi Sad, and after that, I have continued to learn more about deeper relations between computing and cognitive science (especially, language science) at the University of Belgrade.
Q: What is your main research area?
A: My main research interests are concentrated in the area of language processing, and in my work, I mostly combine quantitative approach to the language with data collected in psycholinguistics experiments. In my previous work, my particular focus was in the domain of lexical processing of derivational and inflectional morphology in Serbian, but in my recent research about deverbal nominals in Serbian and English I extended this focus to the study of sentence processing in both languages.
Q: What is your current work focused on?
A: Currently, my attention is primarily focused on the research of cognitive processing of deverbal nominals in Serbian and English. Deverbal nominals are derived nouns formed out of verbs, and that process of nominalization makes them a morphologically, semantically and syntactically complex language phenomenon. In Serbian, that complexity is more noticeable, primarily because of the rich morphology, which makes it the perfect candidate for empirical investigation. Furthermore, some previous theoretical studies propose different classifications of deverbal nominals in Serbian, and to the best of our knowledge, those divisions were not empirically tested in detail before. With my colleagues Sanja Radman (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany [from October 2017]) and Anja Šarić (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany) during past few years I conducted a few experiments, aimed at the investigation of cognitive processing of different aspects of deverbal nominals in Serbian. We have used different experimental techniques, that involve both the processing of isolated deverbal nominals, as well as the deverbal nominals embedded in sentence context. Furthermore, a new fellow has recently joined our small team, Filip Nenadić (University of Alberta, Canada), who is in charge of testing this complex phenomenon in English in the upcoming months. The divisions of deverbal nominals in English are different than those in Serbian, as well as the variations in complexity, which suggests that cognitive processing of deverbal nominals is a bit different than in Serbian. Moreover, we are now trying to set up the experiment for the investigation of cognitive processing of deverbal nominals in German, as well as to find the most effective way to explain this complex phenomenon from the quantitative/computational approach.
Q: What made you want to participate in the WiCS logo competition?
A: When I am not engaged in language science, I spend most of my time on graphic design, because I like it a lot. Furthermore, I am a young student who follows news and activities in cognitive science, and when I saw the competition that connects my interests, I decided to apply and to use my creativity in the best possible way to depict how I see your society.
Q: How did you come up with the winning logo?
A: Firstly, I read a lot about Women in Cognitive Science (WiCS), and tried to imagine how to represent the main idea of this splendid society with the help of graphic design tools. I decided to combine all the visual elements (e.g. brain, neural networks etc.) that are recognizable in cognitive science, and to create a modern logo, painted in colours that are recognizable for WiCS. I believe that logo credibly reflects the main idea of WiCS, and that this logo is completely unique in relation to the logos of other cognitive science associations.
Q: Have you attended any of the WiCS events?
A: Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to attend any of the WiCS events yet, but I would like to attend some upcoming events that are planned in Europe during this year.
Q: What advice would you give to more junior scientists in the field?
A: Since I am a young student who is still learning to discriminate between good and bad predictors of success in science, I am not sure if I could give some important advice to more junior scientists. However, what I have learned through previous research experience is the fact that it is very important to find a specific research topic which you are passionate about, because that passion could be very helpful in overcoming all difficulties that can occur. Also, persistence and dedicated work, as well as the support of one’s research team are important factors for success in any field, not just in science in particular.
Q: What things would you like more advice about?
A: In my opinion, the biggest challenge for each young scientist is to master the fine art of scientific communication, more precisely, to learn how to express their own thoughts efficiently. Therefore, I believe that every young researcher would want to receive more advice about this topic. Furthermore, more advice about the best practices in presenting and promoting one’s own research are always very welcome, especially from much more experienced senior scientists.