RGCL Anniversary Highlights, Day 23

Published on Sep, 7 2022 by RGCL.

The Women of RGCL

Computational Linguistics is not traditionally associated with women, but in our case, it is. Over the years, RGCL has attracted, hosted, trained and supported dozens of talented women, and in this post we’d like to celebrate their journeys and achievements.

Current women of RGCL

Beginning with our current and most senior women members, we are honoured to have Prof Gloria Corpas Pastor as a Visiting Professor at RGCL. She is also Professor of Translation and Interpreting of the University of Malaga, Spain, and Head of the Research Group in Lexicography and Translation (Lexytrad). Prof Corpas Pastor has published a wide collection of papers in both national and international journals, and is author and editor of several books. She is regularly invited to give talks at international events and is a member of several Editorial Boards and Scientific Committees. She has won several important awards, including the 2007 “Translation Technologies Award” given by the Spanish Research Network on Translation Technologies, and the 2017 “Farola Award” in the field of New Technologies, given by the Andalusian Women’s Institute, Junta de Andalucía. Her seminal contributions to the areas of corpus-based translation, computational phraseology, and technology for translation and interpretation have inspired generations of researchers both in Spain and abroad. This year, Prof Corpas Pastor was awarded the Saint Francis Prize in Techno-Humanities in recognition of her significant achievements in translation technology.


Next, our Deputy Head of the Group, Dr Burcu Can, is currently a Reader in Computational Linguistics. She has been working in academia for 17 years, with expertise in various fields in computational linguistics and natural language processing. She was involved in several projects, received a project performance award for a project that she was leading, published more than 30 conference papers and more than 10 journal papers in the top conferences and journals in the field of natural language processing. She is currently the Associate Editor of the Journal of Natural Language Engineering along with being an editorial board member in several other journals. 


For many years now, we have had the privilege of working with Dr Sara Moze, a Lecturer in Computational Lexicology at RGCL. Dr Moze joined us as a Research Associate in 2014 on the Disambiguation of Verbs by Collocation project, and was instrumental in the creation of the Pattern Dictionary of English Verbs. Sara is now the Co-Head of Teaching in RGCL, as well as Local Coordinator for the European Master’s in Technology for Translation and Interpreting (EM TTI) and Course Leader for the MA in Practical Corpus Linguistics for ELT, Lexicography, and Translation (MA CorLing). She regularly serves on programme committees for international conferences in lexicography and NLP (e.g. eLex, EUROPHRAS, EURALEX, and the DiscoNLP workshop at NAACL HLT). Sara has also participated in Advance HE’s prestigious Aurora Leadership programme for women (2017-18).


Dr Emma Franklin joined us as a wee undergraduate intern in 2011, and we haven’t been able to shake her off since. Having completed her undergraduate studies in English Language and Linguistics (University of Wolverhampton), her MRes in Corpus Linguistics (University of Birmingham), and her PhD in Corpus Linguistics (Lancaster University) on a competitive AHRC scholarship, all while working part-time at RGCL, Emma then undertook a postdoctoral research position at the University of Sheffield and returned to us a year later as a Lecturer in Corpus-based Digital Humanities. Emma has worked on a range of corpus and computational linguistic projects with us, from syntactic and coreferential annotation and corpus lexicography to long-term editorial assistance on the Oxford Handbook of Computational Linguistics. Emma has acted as reviewer for a number of computational linguistic conferences, and has reviewed books, chapters and papers for Bloomsbury Advances in Ecolinguistics; Corpora; Discourse and Communication; Discourse, Context & Media; and Natural Language Processing.


Our administrative team – officially award-winning! – is led by the excellent Dr Amanda Bloore. Before coming to RGCL, Amanda completed her PhD in Broadcasting and then undertook a postdoctoral research position at the University of Worcester. Amanda, who is currently Operations Manager for RIILP, said:

“I started at RGCL as a maternity cover for April Harper - I had three days to learn everything before April went off! It was a whirlwind few days, but we managed. I really enjoyed working within RGCL and was delighted when a permanent post became available before my contract ended. I’ve worked my way through the jobs in the admin team, starting as Research Assistant and PA, before becoming the Project and Funding officer and finally the Operations Manager.”


Suman Hira came to RGCL on a maternity leave cover contract in 2019, but she has been too good to lose and her contract has been extended and re-extended multiple times since! Suman has worked as a PA for Prof Mitkov, has been a Research Administrator for RGCL, and also works on the EM TTI administration team. Suman and Amanda, as well as Kate Wilson and April Harper, who have both recently left the Group, were awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Award in 2021. Kate and April were both stalwarts of the Group, and we miss them hugely!

RGCL Admin team
From left to right: Amanda, April, Kate and Suman

Finally, we are so thrilled to have our fantastic women PhD students, Maria, Rocío, Sandra, Hadeel, Milena, Sonia, Isuri, and Kanishka.


Rocío, who is undertaking a PhD in Translation Technologies, said of RGCL:

“I am Rocío Caro Quintana and I am currently a PhD student. I studied Translation and Interpreting in Malaga and now I am doing my PhD in Translation Technologies. I am also working at JNLE and helping with the organisation of a few conferences like NeTTT or RANLP. I am very thankful to all the women that have been part of RGCL for helping me and creating a space where we feel included.”


Maria, when asked about her experiences at RGCL, shared:

I joined RGCL in January 2019 as a PhD Student. When I was looking for PhD programmes, I was immediately attracted by this position, because I recognised the group. I was already familiar with some of the research published by the RGCL members. Reading more about the RGCL strengthened my belief that it was a strong and diverse research community. I was very proud to become part of it. Now, as I am getting very close to the end of my studies, it is difficult to overestimate the role the RGCL played in my development as a computational linguist. It is not only the ample opportunities to get involved with world-level research and communities, meeting the computational linguistics legends and drawing inspirations from the many brilliant former students. It is also acquiring insider’s understanding of important components of research activities such as organising top conferences and running a successful journal in the field. I have my doubts that I would have an opportunity to be exposed to all these aspects if I selected a different place to do my PhD. I also felt very welcome without being too regulated: a perfect balance between being engaged and independent. I remain very grateful to April Harper and Shiva Taslimipoor, the two women in the RGCL who helped me to onboard.”


Maria Carmela (Milena), another of our PhD students, has added:

“I studied Digital Humanities at the University of Pisa and came to RGCL as a trainee to prepare my master thesis under the Erasmus+ Programme. During this time, I had the opportunity to improve my coding skills, challenge my knowledge in NLP and meet inspiring people from all around the world! I was so enthusiastic about this experience that I decided to apply for the PhD Programme in Computational Linguistics and I came back as a PhD student in 2021. My research interests lie at the intersection between Computer Vision and NLP. I helped organising TRITON and RANLP’21. I work as editorial assistant for the Journal of Natural Language Engineering.”



Past women of RGCL

There are almost too many to name, but we would like to pay tribute to some of the amazing women who have paved the way for those of us currently in the Group.


Alison Carminke worked as an Administrative Funding Manager in RIILP from 2008 to 2012. During that time, she gained her first experience in European funding streams such as FP7 and the Lifelong Learning programme, as well as in national funding streams such as JISC and AHRC. Moving within the University of Wolverhampton to the International Academy and the Faculty of Arts, Business and Social Sciences, Alison leveraged her early training in RIILP to become an expert in bidding and project management. In particular, she is recognised for her knowledge of Erasmus+ strategic partnerships, with a 100% success rate in her last five proposals submitted to the UK National Agency.


Other fantastic former admin team members are Erin Stokes, Helen Williams, and Stephanie Kyle, to name just a few.

Then there are our former PhD students and staff members: Laura Hasler, Georgiana Marsic, Sanja Stajner, Victoria Yaneva, Lucia Specia, Luz Rello, Irina Temnikova, Natalia Konstantinova, Natalia (Natasha) Ponomareva, Miranda Chong, Andrea Varga, Vinita Nahar, Catalina Barbu, Yvonne Skalban, Jane Bradbury, Shiva Taslimipoor, Najah Albaqawi, and Hanna Bechara, amongst others, all of whom have excelled in their fields and are a credit to the Group.


Victoria Yaneva was originally a Master’s student at the University of Plovdiv and, in November 2011, when Prof Mitkov was receiving his first Doctor Honoris Causa award there, he sought to recruit a Master’s student with knowledge of Psychology and fluency in Bulgarian to complete coreference annotation for the FIRST project. Victoria was the clear winner at the interviews, and after two months of work at RGCL, she had impressed the project leads to such an extent that she was offered a PhD studentship with the Group. After her PhD, she went to be an early-career researcher, and finally a lecturer with us. Here is what she said:

“It was inspiring to see so many women at RGCL who excel in a traditionally male-dominated area. Their example and support has been crucial for the success of many PhD students and early career researchers.”

Victoria’s work was covered by ITV news while she was at RGCL, and Victoria is now Senior Data Scientist at the National Board of Medical Examiners in the US.


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