Getting to Know Moscow, Making Friends, and Pointing at Things
Marie Arsalidou joined HSE’s Faculty of Social Sciences as Assistant Professor in September 2014. She is getting ready to launch a wide-ranging developmental study examining cognitive capacities in school children. Here she talks about what working at HSE and living in Moscow is like for an international professor.
— You started the academic year actively by arranging a seminar 'Brain responses to numbers and mathematical operations'. What was your impression of the participants, and how have things been since then?
— The seminar went really well, I enjoyed presenting my work and I was pleased that the audience was engaged and asked interesting questions.
Right now I am hoping for positive news regarding funding, so that I can proceed with a series of projects that will examine the brain correlates of cognitive abilities in multiple domains.
In addition to regular work supervising MA students on their thesis projects, we are gearing up to start a large developmental study to examine cognitive capacities in school-age children.
We have age appropriate tasks in different domains (visual, verbal, numeric) that are experienced by children as games and they get to practice skills like memory, attention and strategy use. If any readers out there are interested for their children to participate, please feel free to e-mail me.
— What challenges do you encounter living and working in Moscow?
— I find Moscow a really charming city with interesting people. The language is a challenge for me, since I don’t speak Russian. I am impressed, however, by how much communication can occur with minimal language, such as at restaurants and markets. There is a lot of pointing involved!
I do not own a TV and don’t have time to go to Russian classes, though perhaps I should start doing private lessons. But for now, I am picking up words here and there from conversations with people I meet – new friends, neighbors.
— What strikes you as an international expert in teaching in Russian university?
— Mainly — that I have met some outstanding Russian students here. What also strikes me about the graduate programme is the high volume of course work. I think more time could be dedicated to research.
— What are your teaching and research plans for the 2014-2015 academic year?
— I taught an English-language Cognitive Science MA course last term. Now my priority is to build a dynamic lab, involving researchers from diverse backgrounds coming together to carry out research — I currently have students from the departments of psychology and mathematics – and also to make more progress with developmental neuroscience research here in Moscow.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE News Service