Congratulations to PhD candidate Yourdanis Sedarous, who has received an MIT SHASS Diversity Predoctoral Fellowship from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The fellowship will enable Yourdanis to spend the 2021/22 academic year at MIT where she is working on her dissertation research. 

Yourdanis’ dissertation investigates the extent to which bilingual speakers’ cognitive representations of the syntactic structures of their two languages are interconnected. She says: “We know that when bilinguals read, listen to, or speak one language, the other language is also mentally activated even when only one language is used. However, much less is known about how bilinguals store and access syntactic representations of their two languages, and to what extent structural convergence (or lack thereof) plays a role in their mental representations. I probe into these questions in my dissertation by investigating the knowledge and processing by Egyptian Arabic-English bilinguals of various so-called long-distance dependencies (LDD) sentence structures that establish a relationship between a moved constituent (filler) and its original position (gap).” Yourdanis focuses on bilingual knowledge and use by an understudied group of bilinguals (heritage bilinguals born to immigrant families in the US) from two typologically distant languages, Egyptian Arabic and American English.

Yourdanis also received a Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship, which will provide additional support through the end of 2022. The prestigious Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship supports outstanding doctoral candidates working on dissertations that are unusually creative, ambitious and impactful.  

Congratulations, Yourdanis!