Summer Projects 2021-2022

Would you like to join us in a summer research project at Western Sydney University, as a volunteer student researcher? A diverse range of projects is available, working with researchers from The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour & Development and from the School of Humanities & Communication Arts. Research topics reflecting particular research concentrations at Western include: acoustic phonetics, psycholinguistics, infant development, intergenerational interaction, human memory and learning, language technology, and language revitalisation.

Below are research projects on offer for volunteer student researchers in Summer 2021-22. Some projects can be done entirely online, and -- Covid permitting in Sydney -- some projects may involve some face to face, in person involvement (remember that?!). It seems likely that students, staff and visitors to WSU campuses this year for research will need to be double-vaccinated against Covid-19.

How to apply

If you are interested in expressing an interest in any of the projects below, or finding out more information in general, please email Professor Caroline Jones. To apply, please include:

  • your CV
  • current academic transcript (an unofficial copy is fine)
  • contact details for an academic referee (e.g. a lecturer you have had), and
  • a short (500 word) statement about your background, interests, and what you’d like to get out of the summer experience.

The final deadline for applications is 29 October 2021. Applications will be processed as received, however, so please be in touch as soon as you are ready, if you are interested.

To apply for any of the projects, or to find out more, please contact:

Projects for Summer 2021-22

Project title


Project duration & timing

Mode (online, face to face, or hybrid)

Project details

Acoustic characteristics of Danish vowels

A/Prof Michael Tyler

6 weeks, Jan-Feb possible

can be done online

The project involves using Praat software to mark the boundaries between consonants and vowels in two-syllable Danish real words and nonce words. You will learn how to use Praat software for annotating sound files and using git for version control. There may also be opportunities to learn how to write and/or edit Praat scripts to automate acoustic analysis.

Intergenerational video calls

Prof Paola Escudero, Dr Celia Harris

6 weeks, Nov-Feb possible

can be done online

The aim of the project is to understand infant attention and engagement when interacting with their grandparent through online zoom video calls. The student will assist in coding the videos using eye tracking techniques. The student will gain experience in understanding how research is conducted with infants and older adults. They will also gain skills in using cognitive psychology techniques to measure infant attention.

Listen N Talk Language Learning App

Dr Mark Richards

6 weeks, Nov-Feb possible

can be done online

The Listen N Talk digital shell has been designed to create phrase-based language apps for language learning. A sample Hungarian learning app has been created using Listen N Talk, but requires images to be added to the entries. The students will search for royalty free images to illustrate each entry and upload these through the Listen N Talk digital portal. Any attributions required for the images will be added in the notes section of the app.

Making talking dictionaries for underresourced languages

Prof Caroline Jones

4-6 weeks, Nov-Feb possible

online, face to face or hybrid

The aim of the project is to create several online talking dictionaries using special software created at Western during CoEDL. We would welcome a student interested in assisting with audio editing and text file structuring. There are opportunities to connect with community groups, learn about research in general, and increase your skills and knowledge in Australian languages, dictionary making, phonetics software, and scripting/programming.

Processing the voices of different talkers

A/Prof Mark Antoniou

6 weeks, Nov-Feb possible

online or hybrid

Experiment will examine speech processing in talkers from different language backgrounds. You will have the opportunity to contribute to stimulus development or remote testing of participants. We can discuss which aspects of the project are best suited to your skills.

Technology use, memory tools and strategies

Dr Maddie Radnan, Dr Celia Harris

6 weeks, Nov-Feb possible

can be done online

This project aims to understand how younger and older adults use digital technologies to support memory and cognition. The student will assist with coding participant statements on how they remember in different situations. They will learn about internal and external processes of memory and gain insight into autobiographical memory research techniques.

The development of pitch in infancy and adulthood

Dr Liquan Liu, Jenny Zeng

6 weeks, Nov-Feb possible

some face to face work required at WSU

The aim of the project is to understand whether bilingual environment modulates infant word learning ability in a foreign language context. Students will help with data collection. Students will learn associative word learning paradigm and infant testing skills.

Vocabulary assessment and early intervention

Prof Caroline Jones

4-6 weeks, Nov-Feb possible

online, face to face or hybrid

The aim of this project is to update and archive (in open science format on a database of vocabulary development for Australian children, which we have created in CoEDL alongside a new assessment tool, the OZI-SF. You will learn about children’s language development and early intervention, and increase your skills in Excel (or R/Python).