Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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New Theme Speaker for theme 1, Language and Communication: Stephanie Forkel

Date of news: 9 November 2022

Our latest Donders Mohrmann group leader Stephanie Forkel has been appointed as Theme Speaker for Theme 1: Language and Communication. In her capacity as theme speaker, Stephanie will play an important role in leading one of the four research themes at the Donders Institute. She is the successor of Asli Özyürek  , who has become director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics over the summer.

Before joining the Donders Institute, Stephanie made quite a journey from Germany via Austria and Ireland to the UK, the US, France and now the Netherlands, where she conducted research at well-known institutes. She currently researches variability in the brain and how this affects the recovery after brain damage. Right now, we can predict about 60% of recovery, the other 40% could (at least partially) be explained by variability in the brain and inform personalized neuroscience.

As a Theme Speaker, her ambitions are to advance our research and improve collaboration on this theme within the Donders Institute and with our partners . Stephanie Forkel: ‘To do so, I want to reduce institutional barriers that there may be within research themes together with the other three Theme Speakers. It’s about integrating interdisciplinary knowledge and expertise to advance our research. One strength of the Donders Institute lies in in the breadth and  depth of the available knowledge.’

‘We should try to get rid of as many boarders as possible, whether they may be institutional or geographical. COVID really accelerated this for me. In one day, I can give presentations in Japan, America and here in Nijmegen. Of course, digitally is not as nice as going there in person. Still, it makes it possible to achieve effectiveness and connectedness that was impossible before.’

What Stephanie Forkel would love to see is enthusiasm for a common cause. ‘If we could be a community within the theme, learn from each other and grow together, this would make me happy. It is essential to be aware of all the available resources in topic knowledge, tools, software etc. As a collective, we have it all, but as individuals, we do not.’ It is one of the reasons that in her research, she experiences Donders Institute as an internationally leading institute in language sciences.

‘I am also looking forward to collaborating with the other Theme Speakers. Even though I have only attended one Theme Speakers meeting, I am convinced that this will strengthen the unique position of the Donders Institute and advance our research. ‘

Chair of the Donders Institute Board, Barbara Franke, looks forward to working with Stephanie: 'I'm very happy that Stephanie is the new Theme 1 Speaker. In the coming year, we will have a transition into a new governance structure within the Donders Institute. The position of the Theme Speakers (Theme Leaders in the new governance structure) will become more central to the development of the strategy of our institute, within and across the Themes. Theme 1 - Language and Communication - spans several faculties and institutes, and I expect that Stephanie, being both a successful scientist and a team worker par excellence, will do an excellent job in finding the synergy across the different topics and methodologies used among its membership.'