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Joanna Isselé is a Ph.D candidate working on the perceptual representation of Chinese characters (funding: grant from F.R.S.-FNRS). A first question of her Ph.D is to investigate the structure of orthographic representations involved in Chinese character recognition. The second question addresses the role of statistical learning in the emergence of perceptual units for Chinese character recognition. Alain Content is the co-promotor of the Ph.D.

Anezka Smejkalova  is a Ph.D candidate working on the cognitive and neural mechanisms of incident word learning during reading (funding: UNI grant followed by a ARC consolidator grant). More precisely, her aim is to elucidate the mechanisms of novel word learning in adults through naturalistic situations of text reading and to assess the impact of the acquisition of new written words on the structure and the content of the lexical stock. She examines this issue in adults, using both behavioural and EEG methods.

Nathalie Sakr is a Ph.D candidate working on the impacts of diglossia on reading acquisition in Arabic. She is also a Lebanese speech therapist as well as a teaching assistant at the Lebanese University in Beyrouth. Starting from the analysis that many Arabic children have trouble entering reading acquisition, Nathalie decided to examine to what extent the presence of diglossia in Arabic could be a specific source of difficulties for young children.

Elodie Sabatier is a Ph.D candidate working on the spelling abilities of deaf children (funding: ITN Comm4CHILD). It is known that deaf children have overall orthographic representations of lower quality than hearing children. Here Elodie tries to understand what factors determine children’s level of spelling abilities. She uses both orthographic learning paradigms and longitudinal studies. Jacqueline Leybaert is the co-promotor of the Ph.D.

Click here to know more about the researchers who previously worked with me.

Master students

The work on the master thesis lasts two years. The first year is dedicated to the literature review and to the experimental design. During the second year, students set up the experiment, test participants, analyze the data, and write their thesis. Usually, master students working with me come from the fields of cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, speech therapy studies, linguistics or educational sciences.

In 2020-21, 14 master students (2nd year) are working with me on their master thesis:

  • Justine Ernou (Spelling abilities in adults)
  • Marie Zammuto (Learning new words and bilingualism)
  • Ophélie Delecroix (Statistical learning in Chinese) – With Joanna Isselé
  • Caroline Van Cauwenberge (Reading motivation and vocabulary)
  • Ilhem Cherigui (New word learning)
  • Lucas Franc (New word learning) – With Anezka Smejkalova
  • Alizée Bonnet Des Tuves (Reading motivation and book choice)
  • Anaïs Daudigny (Reading motivation and book choice)
  • Cécile Balocco (Reading motivation and book choice)
  • Fafa Benkhalifa (Variability in spelling abilities)
  • Hajar M’Haoual (Improving written language skills in adults)
  • Tuyet Truong (New word learning) – With Anezka Smejkalova
  • Aurélie Roelandt (New word learning) – With Anezka Smejkalova
  • Valérie Salme (New word learning) – With Anezka Smejkalova

(See previous master theses)

Research internships

For master students, research internships are typically between 300 and 400 h long, and take place in the lab. Topics for the year 2018-2019 were presented on October 3rd (presentations by labs available on the intranet of the faculty). Let me know if you’re interested in one of them. You can also contact me at any time if you’re an external student (not ULB) who wants to do a research internship in the lab.

In 2020-2021, I welcome Cansu Altepe during the entire year. Note that I also welcome Margaux Genucchi as a scientific collaborator (partly funded by an AEX mandat).

(See previous research internships)

Joining the team

Possibilities of joining the team depend on common interests, research profile, and funding (at the Ph.D and post-doc levels). If you’re interested, feel free to email me. For Ph.D and post-doc funding, keep in mind that it’s important to be well prepared and to get in touch with me well in advance (preparing and submitting a project takes months!).

Some funding programs at the Ph.D level in Belgium:

Some funding programs at the Post-doc level in Belgium:

  • Each year, it is possible to apply for a mandate for a post-doctoral researcher at the FNRS. The deadline is typically end of January.
  • You can also apply to Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions of the European Commission. The deadline is typically in September.
  • For the next 5 years, the Université libre de Bruxelles has obtained 50 individual Fellowships (IF@ULB) which correspond  to the European postdoctoral programme (Marie Skłodowska Curie COFUND action) open to international postdoctoral researchers in all fields of research. The deadline is usually around mid-October.