Scientific research interests
I am primarily interested in the neurocognition of multilingualism: how the brain of a multilingual person represents and processes his/her different languages, and how these languages interact and influence one another. I am interested in the changes that occur in the brain when we learn a new language, and how proficiency level (at different stages of learning or of forgetting languages) impacts how a language is processed in the brain. My PhD research focuses on the brain basis of a phenomenon called “first-language attrition” — a non-pathological decline of one’s first language, due to special circumstances (such as immigration) that lead the individual to experience very reduced exposure to their native language, while highly-proficient in the second language they learned in adulthood and now use on a daily basis. This is an exciting new line of brain research that explores the “younger is better” question from a new perspective: if there is a critical-period for the brain to process a language like a native-speaker, we would expect to find that one’s first-language is robust and impermeable to loss, and that the language learned in adulthood cannot take over, even if it becomes the daily language. Interestingly, our studies show that this is not entirely the case! In addition to this main line of research, I am also interested in individual differences in language-learning, language development in children, as well as literacy (and dyslexia) in bilinguals. I would also love to explore the phenomenon of attrition in second-language learners — for example, what happens when you no longer practice a foreign language you knew very well? After my PhD, I would enjoy continuing to explore the possible parallels between language-acquisition and attrition: with increasing or decreasing proficiency-levels, do the stages of acquisition and attrition parallel each other, but in reverse? What are the factors that influence how “native-like” the brain seems when a multilingual speaker processes his/her respective languages?
To find out more about my research expertise, see the Projects page.
Leadership and Entrepreneurship
During my MSc and PhD years, I became heavily involved in offering coaching to my peers on key skills such as academic writing, preparing successful fellowship applications, improving productivity, organization and time-management skills, maintaining a work-life balance, preparing presentations, etc. I was an official McGill blogger for the GradLife Blog for over 5 years, sharing resources and personal experiences with the student body and faculty readership. I worked as a consultant for the McGill Writing Centre (Graphos) and Teaching and Learning Services (Skillsets) during and after my PhD. I also volunteered to help with event organization on a local and international scale, such as organizing scientific conferences.
Aside from my fascination with brain research on multilingualism, I am passionate about writing, travel, photography and entrepreneurship. In 2015, I launched my own travel photography business and online shop (Veni Etiam Photography, also on Etsy). My mission is to help clients create a decor that resonates with them and inspires them daily.
In running my own business, I started to enjoy learning about business and marketing strategies, and became involved with the local art scene in Montreal, Canada. I am now one of the leaders of the Collectif Créatif Etsy Montréal, a regional team of entrepreneurs affiliated with the Etsy online marketplace. The Collectif Créatif organizes 5 highly popular art fairs a year in Montreal. My main roles on the leadership team involve content-writing, social media marketing, curating our selection of exhibitors, translation (English and French), cultivating relationships with sponsors and members, event-organization and event photography.
After years of entrepreneurship and leadership, my diverse experiences led me to launch my second business: Momentum Emporium. Momentum is a consulting firm (or, if you prefer, your go-to virtual assistant) offering copywriting, editing, translation and coaching services on a range of topics for academics, scientists, entrepreneurs and community members, in both English and French.
Outside of science, business and art, life has made it so that I find myself in the role of health advocate – a role I never envisioned. As a result of my own personal circumstances, I work hard to raise awareness and research funding for endometriosis and female cancers. In 2018, I wrote and self-published the first edition of a book describing my personal journey with these health challenges, particularly endometriosis. I am now revising this first edition for a major Canadian publisher. Inspired by the women entrepreneurs I was blessed to meet in my artistic community, I created an initiative called Alba – A New Dawn , which aims to shine light on endometriosis, cancer and infertility through art, portraits, stories and resources shared by professionals from multiple disciplines. The Instagram account has been unifying individual around the globe.
When I am not working on one of these 5 jobs (ha!), I enjoy travel writing, cooking, wine, gardening, home decorating, art history and architecture, and all things Italy. I love learning foreign languages and experiencing different cultures. I also have synesthesia, which colors the way I see things in this world (forgive the pun!)