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Language Sciences Research Incubator Fund

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A small projects fund to foster innovative and interdisciplinary research in the language sciences

CALL OPEN! Apply via the online portal

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Isaac Newton Trust in providing matched funding for this scheme.

Isaac Newton trust 

Since the Incubator Fund grant, we've been contacted by the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, University of Wales to collaborate on a related project using the techniques we've developed

Dr David Willis, Theoretical and Applied Linguistics ("Towards a parsed corpus of historical Welsh", 2016-17 award)


Proposals are evaluated by a review panel. Priority will be given to those which

  • Promote interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration
  • Address emerging themes
  • Develop novel methodological approaches or tools
  • Are likely to lead to the development of further research grant proposals.


  • Applicants must be full members of the University of Cambridge for the duration of the project.
  • Each proposal should be submitted by co-applicants from at least 2 different research groups.
  • Postdoctoral researchers are eligible in principle, but should check with their department. Applications should include a supporting letter from your research supervisor (where applicable).
  • Travel costs and workshops/events will not be funded under this scheme.

 Conditions of funding

  • Projects must be completed within 6 months of notification of the award.
  • A brief report must be completed within 9 months of notification of the award
  • Successful applicants will be required to present their research at the next Language Sciences Annual Symposium following completion of their project.
  • Financial support from Cambridge Language Sciences and the Isaac Newton Trust should be acknowledged in any outputs from a grant under this scheme.

NOTE: Employment of research assistants usually needs to be done through TES. Please seek HR advice before including personnel costs as part of a proposal.


A total of £40,451 has been awarded to the following projects.

Awards in 2017-18

Language, Brains & Machines: an initial literature review Anna Samuel, Dr Andrew Caines, Dr Paula Buttery (Dept. of Computer Science & Technology). A cross-disciplinary literature survey undertaken to support a SIG on computational neurolinguistics (Language Sciences Research Strategy Forum).

Learning a language at your brain's pace Dr Henriëtte Hendriks (Linguistics), Prof. Zoe Kourtzi (Psychology), Dr Vicky Leong (Psychology), Dr John Williams (Linguistics) This project aims to shed light on individual language learning, drawing on the latest neuroscientific research. Although there is strong evidence supporting the importance of brain rhythms in neural information processing, whether these mechanisms can be exploited to optimize language learning has not yet been tested.

Neural encoding of semantic and syntactic information in bilingualism Dr Mirjana Bozic (Language Brain and Bilingualism Lab, Psychology), Andrea Olguin (Language, Brain and Bilingualism Lab, Psychology), Tristan Bekinschtein (Cambridge Consciousness & Cognition Lab, Psychology) This is follow-up research to build on a previous collaborative project supported by the Incubator Fund Neural correlates of selective attention in bilingualism. Results from the previous work suggest that bilingualism affects the way our neural system encodes information, but one of the issues that remains unclear is how exactly bilingualism modulates the attentional processing of speech.

'Bhavishya Shakti'- Constructs of a novel education intervention in urban slums Prof. Sumantra Ray (NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition and Health), Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli (Linguistics), Dr Minha Rajput-Ray (NNEdPro), Ms Ananya Ria Roy (NNEdPro) This project addresses emerging themes around global challenges to both literacy and health, and provides an opportunity for interdisciplinary exchange between the NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition and Health and Language Sciences to assess the constructs and impacts of nutrition education for multilingual mothers in urban slums of Kolkata.

Multilingualism and subjective wellbeing in the family: a systematic review Dr Napoleon Katsos (Linguistics), Dr Jenny Gibson (Education) An interdisciplinary, qualitative systematic review of the literature on wellbeing in multilingual families.

A personalised literacy and numeracy teaching app for mobile devices Dr Andrew Caines (Linguistics/ALTA); Dr Paula Buttery, Russell Moore, Dr Andrew Rice (Computer Science & Technology); Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli (Linguistics) The development of an app to support the teaching of verbal reasoning, problem solving, and English literacy to school-age second-language learners.

A collaborative game-based approach to documenting linguistic variation in Brazil  Dr Ioanna Sitaridou (Spanish & Portuguese), Dr Paula Buttery (Computer Science & Technology), Dr Andrew Caines (Linguistics/ALTA), A crowd-sourcing project to document linguistic diversity in Brazil through the development of a computer Game With A Purpose (GWAP)

Awards in 2016-17

Preliminary data are novel and very promising, showing that bilingualism modulates the neural mechanisms for selective attention. […] The first manuscript based on this data set is currently under review and the second one is in preparation.

Dr Mirjana Bozic, Dept. of Psychology ("Neural correlates of selective attention in bilingualism", 2016-17 award)

Neural correlates of selective attention in bilingualism Dr Mirjana Bozic, Andrea Olguin, Dr Tristan Bekinschtein (Psychology); Dr Napoleon Katsos (Linguistics) A project to investigate whether being bilingual affects a listener’s ability to attend to speech in noisy environments, and  (if so) to explore the factors supporting this phenomenon. 

Crowdsourcing an error-annotated corpus of spoken learner English Dr Andrew Caines  (Linguistics) & Dr Marek Rei (Computer Laboratory). The creation of the first error-annotated corpus of spoken learner English will be an open-access resource which allows for multiple future experiments for different research groups within language sciences.

Towards a parsed corpus of historical Welsh Dr David Willis (Linguistics), Dr Sheila Watts (German & Dutch), Prof. Paul Russell (Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic) Corpus development and research to lay the groundwork for a grant application. 

The relationship between vision and reading in global and local language processing Dr Elaine Schmidt, Dr Luca Cilibrasi, Dr Ana Pérez, Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli (Linguistics); Dr Andrew Welchman, Prof. Zoe Kourtzi (Psychology). This project aims to determine whether reading is influenced by visual processing abilities which are unrelated to language. 

Historical codeswitching and language mutability in the history of English Dr Laura Wright (English) & Professor Ian Roberts (Linguistics). Annotation of mixed-language Medieval Latin/Anglo-Norman French/Middle English business writing as a precursor to future research on language mutability in medieval English, and its significance in the development of modern English.

Multisensory semantic integration in inferential comprehension Dr Ana Pérez, Dr Elaine Schmidt, Dr Luca Cilibarasi, Prof. Ianthi Tsimpli (Linguistics); Dr Andrew Welchman, Prof. Zoe Kourtzi (Psychology). A project to study whether the integration of information across different sensory modalities facilitates and/or interferes with the comprehension of inferential information in monolingual adults.

Multi-word expressions in spoken learner English Dr Paula Buttery (Computer Lab) & Dr Andrew Caines (Linguistics). This project will bring together several existing resources in order to produce an analysis of multi-word expressions in spoken learner English.

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