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PIRE II graduate students traveling in Fall 2017

Announcing International Research Opportunities for CLS Graduate Students Fall 2017

Application deadline for travel in Fall 2017: June 5, 2017

The Center for Language Science (CLS) announces a new cycle of an exciting and unique opportunity for graduate students working with CLS faculty. With the generous support of the National Science Foundation program Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE), the CLS will award travel grants to graduate students each year (up to eight in summer and two in fall/spring) to support travel to international sites for the purpose of conducting translational research on language learning and bilingualism in culturally diverse contexts. This PIRE grant entitled "Translating cognitive and brain science research to the field and educational settings", awarded to the CLS (Penn State) and University of California-Riverside for a 5-year period, will allow graduate students working with CLS faculty to travel for 2 months during the summer or academic year to work on collaborative research projects between CLS faculty members and researchers at leading institutions in the US and in South America, Europe and Asia. International sites include University of Edinburgh (UK), University of Granada (Spain), Jagiellonian University (Poland), Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands), Technical University Braunschweig (Germany), University of Antioquia (Colombia), University of Campinas (Brazil), Universidad Nacional Autónomica (Mexico), Beijing Normal University (China), and University of Hong Kong (China). US sites include the University of California-Riverside, Gallaudet University, Haskins Laboratories, the University of Illinois, University of New Mexico, and the University of Puerto Rico. For students traveling in the summer, funding will cover airfare, lodging, meals, and some research expenses. For students traveling in the fall or spring, funding will cover stipend for the semester in which the student travels, as well as airfare, lodging, and some research expenses.

This NSF PIRE grant "Translating cognitive and brain science research to the field and educational settings" is the second NSF PIRE grant awarded to the CLS, and runs from 2016- 2021. The first NSF PIRE grant, entitled "Bilingualism, mind, and brain: An interdisciplinary program in cognitive psychology, linguistics, and cognitive neuroscience” awarded in 2010, focused on foundational questions about the basic science of bilingualism. The second PIRE grant takes basic research findings on bilingualism and transforms them into a program of translational research that focuses on the implications of this foundational work for language learning environments in culturally diverse contexts. The research is organized around three broad translational themes: 1) language learning across the life span; 2) the role of instructional approaches for successful learning outcomes; 3) the impact of diverse social environments for language learning. See abstract below for more information. Importantly, the focus is on collaborative research projects, so interested applicants should consult with their advisor well in advance.

All materials should be sent electronically to the CLS committee at No hardcopy applications will be accepted. Applications will be evaluated by the CLS faculty committee in consultation with the relevant foreign PIRE partner.

  1. Application materials

    1. (1)  Copy of applicant’s Curriculum Vitae

    2. (2)  A statement of no more than 2-3 single spaced pages describing the proposed

      translational research project and indicating how the research and training experience will enhance the applicant’s graduate training and future educational and professional plans. The statement should specifically describe the project's translational implications and how the proposed project transforms findings from basic science to enhance language learning and bilingualism in culturally diverse contexts. The statement should also describe how the translational aspects of the proposed research experience will broaden the applicant's graduate training and research skills, and enhance future educational and professional plans.

    3. (3)  A letter of recommendation from the CLS faculty research advisor. The letter of recommendation must be sent directly to the CLS committee at .

  2. Eligibility requirements

    1. (1)  To be eligible for the PIRE graduate travel award, candidates must be US citizens or permanent residents.
      A number of awards at the same level will be available each year to support CLS graduate students who are a non-US citizen working within the College of Liberal Arts.

    2. (2)  Must be actively conducting research with a CLS faculty member.

    3. (3)  The planned project for the proposed research experience should fit with the goals of the CLS PIRE project and with the existing PIRE partners and host sites (see the

      abstract for the PIRE grant appended below).

    4. (4)  Eligible students will have a minimum of at least one semester in residence remaining at

      Penn State after returning from research abroad experience. The translational research project supported by the PIRE fellowship should enhance the applicant's research training, and be an integral part of their graduate education at Penn State.


This PIRE project focuses on collaborative research of PIRE faculty and their students with researchers at the international or domestic partner sites. Graduate students interested in applying for a PIRE award are encouraged to meet with their faculty mentors well in advance to discuss research opportunities and the content and timing of their applications. Faculty members should then contact the PIRE PIs in order to funnel the number of students that intend to visit a given international PIRE site; PIRE sites have constraints in terms of research facilities and number of students they can host in a semester. should be contacted for visits to University of Antioquia, University of Campinas (UNICAMP), or Universidad Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM); should be contacted for visits to University of Granada, University of Edinburgh, Beijing Normal University, or one of the domestic sites; should be contacted for visits to Radboud University Nijmegen, Technical University Braunschweig, Jagiellonian University, or University of Hong Kong; should be contacted for visits to University of California-Riverside. Faculty mentors should then approach the international PIRE partner to determine the feasibility of the proposed visit. Please feel free to be in touch with any of us if we can be helpful in facilitating arrangements and contacts.

Award OISE-1545900: PIRE: Translating cognitive and brain science in the laboratory and field to language learning environments

In this PIRE project, The Pennsylvania State University partners with domestic and international collaborators in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, to conduct research that exploits the excitement of recent scientific discoveries that demonstrate that the use of two or more languages changes minds and brains to be more open to learning, more cognitively flexible, and more resistant to cognitive decline. The goal of the project is to translate the science of language learning for education and to examine the contexts and consequences of language learning in the classroom and in the field for a population who are increasingly diverse and range from learners to highly proficient bilinguals. The planned research will impact learners immersed in their native or second language, examine bilinguals who are young and old, and develop new models of learning and literacy. This PIRE will bring language science from the laboratory to practice and will integrate field research with laboratory-based experimentation to provide unique new data on minority and endangered languages, populations with limited literacy, and the consequences of living and learning in a multilingual environment. It will train a diverse workforce of language scientists to be prepared to conduct both basic and applied research and will develop new international collaborations that translate basic science in culturally diverse contexts.

Research on language learning and bilingualism has been fueled by a set of scientific discoveries made possible by emerging neuroscience technologies and the analysis of large scale corpora. These new discoveries show that there is far greater experience-induced plasticity than traditionally understood. Not only are infants and young children open to new learning, but older children, young adults, and even older adults are open to new experience that changes their brains and behavior. The broad PIRE network of partnerships will enable investigations in contexts where the form of language learning and language contact differ from the environments that have typically informed research to date. The PIRE will train undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows to conduct translational research across three broad themes: (1) Language learning across the life span; (2) The role of instructional approaches for successful learning outcomes; and (3) The impact of diverse social environments for language learning. The planned research will exploit a range of behavioral, neuroscience, and field methods to identify readiness and need for intervention, to track learning in real time, and to assess new learning outcomes.