World-leading bilingualism expert recognised by Reading
Release Date 01 May 2015
The University of Reading is delighted to announce Professor Ellen Bialystok has been awarded the inaugural Albert Wolters Visiting Distinguished Professorship.
Ellen is Distinguished Research Professor at York University in Toronto and renowned across the globe for her cutting-edge research on the effects of bilingualism on cognition. Professor Bialystok has shown that learning and speaking more than one language reshapes the mind and brain, from infancy to old age, and can significantly impact on how we switch attention between tasks, brain development and our concentration. Her most recent work suggests bilingualism offers some protection against symptoms of diseases such as dementia and alzheimer's.
Professor Bialystok will visit the University's School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences and give a special public lecture on Tuesday 5 May. Ellen will also talk to colleagues in the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism which is conducting novel research into linguistic, psychological, clinical and educational aspects of multilingualism and literacy.
Professor Bialystok said: "It is a great honour to receive the inaugural Albert Wolters Visiting Distinguished Professorship and have the opportunity to spend time at the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism. Although less than two years old, this it has already established itself as a leading research centre in its field.
"Bilingualism has recently become a focus of worldwide attention. This is, in part, because of the many studies showing its ability to delay onset of symptoms of dementia. As the population ages and pharmaceutical options remain limited, greater interest has grown in the activities we can do to maintain cognitive health into older age. Bilingualism is clearly one of those activities. Understanding how it works, what conditions make it most effective, and how extensive its benefits are have become urgent questions in both academic and public inquiry."
Albert Wolters was the first Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Reading (1908) and its first Head of Department for Psychology (1921). This prestigious honorary title is awarded annually to internationally distinguished scholars in recognition of their world-class contribution to psychology, language sciences or neuroscience.
Professor Laurie Butler, Head of the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, said: "I am thrilled to be welcoming Professor Ellen Bialystok to the University of Reading. Ellen's standing as one of the foremost authorities in the area of bilingualism, combined with Reading's leading role in bilingualism, neuroscience and health related research, means she is a fitting recipient of the inaugural Albert Wolters Visiting Professorship. I hope that her visit sparks new collaborations that will further our understanding in this exciting area of research.
Ellen Bialystok is a Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at York University and Associate Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute of the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care. Her research uses both behavioral and neuroimaging methods to examine the effect of bilingualism on language and cognitive processes across the lifespan. Participants in these studies include children, younger or older adults, and patients, in an attempt to identify the mechanism by which experience modifies cognitive systems.
Ellen has published extensively in the form of books, scientific articles, and book chapters. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Society for Experimental Psychology, American Psychological Society, and other professional organizations. Among her awards are the Canadian Society for Brain Behaviour and Cognitive Science Hebb Award (2011), Killam Prize for the Social Sciences (2010), York University President's Research Award of Merit (2009), Donald T. Stuss Award for Research Excellence at the Baycrest Geriatric Centre (2005), Dean's Award for Outstanding Research (2002), Killam Research Fellowship (2001), and the Walter Gordon Research Fellowship (1999).