Partnerships for International
Research and Education
Partnerships for International
Research and Education


Application Deadline for Spring 2024 Travel: November 3, 2023
Application Deadline for Summer 2024 Travel: December 4, 2023

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 grants to students holding US citizenship or US residency for the purpose of conducting translational research on language learning and bilingualism in culturally diverse contexts. The PIRE grant entitled “Translating cognitive and brain science research to the field and educational settings“, awarded to Penn State and University of California-Irvine for a 5-year period, will allow graduate students working with CLS faculty during the summer or the 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.

PIRE funding is available for eight (8) students in summer and two (2) students in the academic year. In addition, thanks to the generosity of The College of the Liberal Arts (CLA), four (4) grants for summer and one (1) grant for the academic year will be available each year of the grant at the same level of support to fund research for international graduate students working within the College of the Liberal Arts and who are affiliated to the Center for Language Science. Tuition for PIRE and CLA-like PIRE students must be covered by the department to which the student is affiliated.

International partners institutions include University of Edinburgh (UK), University of Granada (Spain), Jagiellonian University (Poland), Radboud University Nijmegen (the Netherlands), University of Groningen (the Netherlands), Technical University Braunschweig (Germany), Universidad Nacional Autónoma (Mexico), Beijing Normal University (China), and University of Hong Kong (China). US partners include Gallaudet University, Haskins Laboratories, University of Florida, University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), University of New Mexico, University of Puerto Rico, and University of South Carolina. In addition, students interested in collaborating with PIRE faculty at UC Irvine, where our PIRE grant is also located, are asked to contact Judith Kroll to discuss opportunities to develop collaborations with UCI faculty and PIRE partners.

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 of travel, as well as airfare, lodging, and some research expenses. Tuition must be covered by the department to which the student is affiliated.

Application Process

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 or CLA award are encouraged to meet with their faculty mentors well in advance to discuss research opportunities and the content and timing of their applications. 

Importantly, faculty members should then contact the PIRE PIs, no later than three weeks before the application deadline, to funnel the number of students that intend to collaborate with a given international PIRE site.

  • Giuli Dussias should be contacted to discuss collaborations with the Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM), University of Granada, University of Edinburgh, Beijing Normal University, and any of the domestic sites. 
  • Judith Kroll should be contacted to discuss opportunities to develop collaborations with UCI faculty and PIRE partners. Faculty mentors should then approach the PIRE partner to determine the feasibility of the proposed collaboration.
  • Janet van Hell should be contacted to discuss collaborations with Radboud University Nijmegen, University of Groningen, Technical University Braunschweig, Jagiellonian University, and University of Hong Kong. 

Please feel free to be in touch with any of us if we can be helpful in facilitating arrangements and contacts. 

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.

Application Materials

  1. Copy of applicant’s Curriculum Vitae
  2. A statement of no more than 3-4 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 and training experience will broaden the applicant’s graduate training and research skills, and enhance future educational and professional plans.
  3. A statement that the applicant has IRB approval for the general protocol; please also provide the IRB number.
  4. A statement indicating that the PIRE faculty advisor has consulted with the PIRE partner regarding general IRB considerations at the partner site and that there is a plan in place for how these considerations will be addressed.
  5. A budget that includes the planned participant recruitment (including the number of participants, amount/hour in US dollars and the number of hours), as well as any other applicable fees or research costs.
  6. A letter of recommendation from the PIRE faculty research advisor. The letter of recommendation must be sent directly to the PIRE committee at

Eligibility Requirements

  1. To be eligible for PIRE graduate travel award, candidates must be US citizens or permanent residents. 
  2. To be eligible for CLA PIRE-like graduate travel awards, candidates must be international students.
  3. Must be actively conducting research with a CLS faculty member. 
  4. 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). 

Eligible students will have a minimum of at least one semester in residence remaining at Penn State after completing their fellowship. The translational research and training 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.

Additional Award Information

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.