ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr Berengere Digard
University of Edinburgh
My PhD and fellowship research focused on autism, and more precisely, on bilingualism in autism: I wanted to understand whether, and if so how, knowing several languages shapes the social life and sociocognitive processes of autistic people. During the fellowship I developed a new study researching what motivates bilingual parents to keep or stop using raising their neurodivergent child with several languages. I also worked on developing my network and meeting new potential collaborators, with whom I developed several ideas for funding proposals.
Fellowship accomplishments / highlights:
First highlight: my fellow fellows! This was such a supportive group, we are actually still all in touch, asking each other for advice and cheering for each other. Academia is a very competitive place, especially amongst early career researchers, so having a group of peers from a range of disciplines and with different perspectives is extremely valuable.
Second highlight: I conducted a lot of outreach and impact-related activities during the fellowship (I organised an information webinar for professionals, and we co-produced a training resource, and we expanded our information material for parents) and seeing how welcome these pieces were reminded me of the value of my research. All this outreach work also helped me win a British Science Association Lectureship Award, which was a great experience as well.
Advice for future fellows:
This fellowship programme is a wonderful space for you to take the time to follow your own goals, and if you are like me you might want to pack a lot in these 12 months. However, I advise you to take the time to breath and enjoy each project you are undertaking, while also allowing flexibility to seize the new opportunities coming your way!