Reflections: Boston University Conference for Language Development (BUCLD)

Thursday, December 20, 2018
BUCLD Bergelson Lab

Members of P&N's Bergelson Lab, led by Dr. Elika Bergelson, recently attended the 43rd annual Boston University Conference for Language Development (BUCLD.)

Undergraduate RAs Sarah Yang and Katya Khlystova were supported by travel awards from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience made possible through a generous gift from the Charles Lafitte Foundation.  (Additonally,  lab members Dr. Fredrica Bulgarelli and Shannon Dailey were supported by the Paula Menyuk Travel Award, and Dailey also received the Society for Language Development student award.)

These lab members offer reflections on their conference experiences:

Sarah Yang (Junior)
Attending the Boston University Conference for Language Development (BUCLD) was an adventure that was altogether new and enlightening. Since BUCLD was my first experience at a conference, I arrived at Boston University in all its gorgeous, red-and-gold-leaved autumn splendor feeling excited, but also unsure of what to expect.

From Day 1, the conference was a blur of talks and posters that spread across all kinds of topics of inquiry within the field of Language Development. As an undergraduate who could barely remember where she put her nametag, I was in awe of the researchers and graduate students who were dedicating so much effort and investigation into solving the questions, the unknowns, and the uncertains that surround Language Development via innovative study methods and data collection processes. As the days of BUCLD went by, my general, BUCLD-Day-1 feeling of being overwhelmed at the sheer number of talks and posters about babies melted away into a deep appreciation for the foundation of curiosity, investigation, and inquiry that went into every single presentation.

At BUCLD, I was able to be among a concentration of passionate and accomplished researchers within Language Development. I listened to their talks. I sat in the audience with them. I talked to them at their posters. I watched as they asked each other questions, gave each other ideas and feedback, and pushed each other to investigate more deeply and effectively. These were all educational experiences that gave me a greater sense of the drive, dedication, creativity, and refinement that are required within research.

BUCLD helped me enormously by not only giving me a broader view of the field of Language Development, but also by narrowing down the field into fewer, more specific interests and research questions that I look forward to possibly pursuing in the future. Going to this conference was no doubt an incredible learning experience, and I am deeply grateful for the kindness and generosity of those who were willing to fund my travel there.

Katya Khlystova (Senior)
Attending BUCLD has been one of the highlights of my academic career at Duke – the vibrant community and collaborative scholarly environment made for a unique trip unlike anything I have ever experienced. The day before BUCLD started, I was able to attend a student symposium, comprised of 3 fascinating talks on language and the mind and specifically geared towards students beginning their careers in language development. I found this symposium absolutely fascinating, since each talk was able to address an individual aspect of the language-mind interface I had never considered before – such as how Theory of Mind may impact syntax, or how linguistic tendencies may map on to non-linguistic primates, such as orangutans. Over the course of BUCLD, I attended a plethora of talks on a wide variety of language development topics – ranging from things so specific as differences in infants’ perception of individual sounds in foreign accents to broader topics, like the effect of older siblings on the language acquisition of a younger sibling. Since I am a relative newcomer to the world of language acquisition and development, the conference opened my eyes to some of the newest and most exciting findings in the field. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, the conference allowed me a valuable opportunity to engage with researchers from across the world, an experience which was incredibly inspirational and has encouraged me to pursue a career in language acquisition research.

Shannon Dailey (2nd Year PhD Student)
I really enjoyed attending the Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD) and I learned a lot! As a graduate student studying language development, this conference was a valuable place for me to engage with the current research in the field. I gave my first BUCLD talk, titled “Linking input and vocabulary in infancy to preschool language skills.” This was a great opportunity to present my findings to and I got useful feedback from many prominent researchers. In addition to my presentation, I saw many talks and posters about exciting recent and ongoing research projects. I also attended a student workshop on open science, where I heard lots of information on how to incorporate open science practices into my work. Finally, I got a chance to connect with other conference attendees, including faculty, lab managers, and graduate students from other universities. Thank you!