Come the fall semester, PhD Candidate Ariana Bancu will be entering her fifth year in the U-M Linguistics Doctoral Program. Ariana was drawn to linguistics because of the widespread applicability of skills gained by studying the discipline. A set of skills initially motivated by her desire to become an English or German instructor.

However, after diving deeper into various subfields of linguistics, and gaining more research experience, she decided to pursue a career in academia.

Ariana was drawn to U-M Linguistics because “the interdisciplinary training promoted by the department allows students to shape their research curiosities into concrete research questions by understanding the various aspects of linguistics. Through the knowledge gained in your training, as well as the opportunities to talk and/or collaborate with professors from various disciplines, you get a great understanding of how to tackle your research questions.”

This understanding was specifically fostered by the faculty advisors that Ariana has worked with throughout her time here. Her primary advisor is Marlyse Baptista and her former primary advisor was Carmel O’Shannessy. Working with both professors was incredibly informative for Ariana, “I have benefited greatly from their expertise in areas such as bilingualism and language contact. In addition to their invaluable input on my own work, I was able to work closely with them on some of their own projects, thus enriching my knowledge beyond my own research.” She is currently working with Marlyse and Robin Queen, Department Chair and Professor of Linguistics, on her dissertation research, which explores language variation and change in two trilingual communities.

Ariana is specifically interested in multilingualism and language contact research, an interest that she credits to her background as a speaker and learner of four languages. Through the training she received in her first two years and the resources available at U-M, she was able to pursue the research she had always dreamed of, “I was able to work with a group of trilinguals based in Romania and in Germany. Not only did I receive financial support to pursue fieldwork for my research abroad, but I also gained the confidence I needed to conduct my work through the classes I took and the expertise and encouragement of my advisors.  I have grown over the past years from a student with a lot of broad questions, into a linguist confident in my research and the field of inquiry I chose.”

Ariana has received continuous support and recognition for her work from the Linguistics department, Rackham Graduate School, and other centers at the university. She was awarded a fellowship and various grants to pursue her research, as well as travel grants to national and international conferences. Furthermore, the department recognized the time and effort she invested in teaching by nominating her for an outstanding GSI award and offering her a GSI mentoring position.  

After finishing the doctoral program at U-M, Ariana hopes to secure a post-doctorate or tenure track position. Her goal is to remain within academia.