My research takes a multimodal approach to language, spoken and signed, and has focused in particular on the role of the visual modality and iconicity in shaping language structure and processing.
I studied General Linguistics, Philosophy, and Comparative Literature at the University of Tübingen and the University of Cologne, and obtained an MA in Linguistics at the University of Cologne with a thesis on "Number and Quantification in German Sign Language".
I did my PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen (Stephen C. Levinson, supervisor) with a dissertation on "Space and Iconicity in German Sign Language (DGS)".
As a Marie Curie fellow (2008-2010) working with Prof Gabriella Vigliocco at the Deafness, Cognition, and Language (DCAL) Research Centre (UCL), I investigated whether the habitual linguistic encoding of visuospatial dimensions (e.g. object size and shape) leads to higher sensitivity to such dimensions in tasks requiring similarity judgments, categorization, and sentence comprehension.
In a postdoctoral researcher position on a VIDI grant (2010-2012) with PI Prof Asli Özyürek, I investigated the role of the visual modality in shaping the linguistic structure of sign languages. This involved a large-scale comparative investigation of two unrelated sign languages (Turkish and German Sign Languages), two unrelated spoken languages (Turkish and German), and the co-speech gestures used by each group of speakers.
As a Research Associate (2012-2014) at the Deafness, Cognition, and Language (DCAL) Research Centre (UCL), my research spanned three main strands: (1) the integration of multiple channels of information in signed and spoken language comprehension; (2) the effects of (audio-)visual language input on action simulation in language comprehension; and (3) the role of iconicity in establishing referentiality in language learning.
I moved to the School of Humanities at the University of Brighton, where I was a Principal Lecturer in Linguistics until the beginning of 2019.
Since February 2019 I am a Professor at the University of Cologne, in the Faculty of Human Sciences.