BabyLab staff spotlight: Dr Marina Kalashnikova

Dr Marina Kalashnikova is an infant researcher at MARCS BabyLab and a postdoctoral research fellow at The MARCS Institute.

When did you start working at MARCS and what was your role?
I joined MARCS in September 2013 as a postdoctoral research fellow working on the project Seeds of Literacy that investigates the early determinants of dyslexia.

What was your first job?
When I was a freshman at the University of Texas at El Paso, I had a part time job at the university's special events department. It was completely unrelated to what I was studying, but I could see many concerts and sporting events for free! Since then, I have had various jobs as a research assistant in child and infancy studies, and this is my first full-time academic position.

What has been your greatest success?
I think that so far, my greatest success has been to obtain this position at the MARCS Institute. I think that it is a real success when you get the opportunity to do what you love for a living, and this is certainly my case.

What's the best thing about your job?
Every day at this job gives me the opportunity to learn something new. I gain new exciting knowledge from my own research, the parents and infants who participate in my studies, my students, and from daily interactions with my colleagues.

Why did you become an infant researcher?
Language is a highly complex system, but children become experts in it even before they learn how to tie their shoes. This remarkable capacity unique to humans fascinates me, and as an infant researcher I can study the process of how infants acquire language from its earliest stages.

What do you like to do when you are not working?
In winter, I like going for a wonder in the city. There is always something new to explore. In summer, I like spending time at the beach – going for walks, swimming in the sea, or just relaxing with a good book.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a psychologist, so I am not that far from living the dream.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
Madagascar – It is the most remote and exotic destination on my travel list. I would definitely like to escape the world for a little bit and relax in the shadows of baobabs.

What books/authors would we find on your bookshelf at home?
A large selection of Russian classics: Tolstoy, Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, among others.

If you could invite anyone famous to dinner, who would it be and why?
Elizabeth II – She has had the opportunity to observe the making of world history for over five decades, so it would be interesting to chat to her.

What would you like to achieve in the future?
I would like to continue moving forward in my academic career. Outside of work, I would love to continue travelling and exploring the world.