Monday, March 18, 2013


Hi, my name is Cerstin Mahlow.  I'm a computational linguist.

From the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg (Germany), I got a Magistra Artium (M.A.) in Computational Linguisitics, Spanish, and Political Sciences.  I studied in the final decade of the last century of the last millenium, i.e., in the pre Bologna system where you had very few regulations concerning which course to attend when.

Born in the North-East of Germany, I followed my way to the South (or to the Mediterranean) and moved to Zurich in 2001.  For some years I was a research assistant at the Department of Informatics of the University of Zurich (UZH).  Then I started a second career as e-learning consultant for the Faculty of Humanities and Arts at the UZH and later for the School of Social Work at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland in Olten and Basel.

However, I developed an interest in writing research---I always loved writing.  I started a project on combining computational linguistics and writing research:  How can natural language processing (NLP) methods and tools help people write more effectively and more efficiently?  I finished my PhD dissertation at the Institute of Computational Linguistics of the UZH in 2011.

Since 2010 I work at the University of Basel in the German Department as senior researcher / PostDoc in an SNSF funded project on German idioms. It's a digital humanities project.

In Summer term 2013 and Winter term 2013/2014 I will substitute for a professor in Theoretical and Computational Linguistics at the University of Konstanz.  I will teach three courses (8 hours a week) and at the moment I haven't decided yet whether I'm excited or a bit scared teaching that much---I also teach a seminar in Spring term 2013 in Basel.

From my experiences with non-technical researchers and users in e-learning, in computational linguistics, and in digital humanities, I developed some ideas on what kind of abstract thinking or even programming skills should be learned by everybody.  And probably universities are the right place to teach basic skills of programming to all students to prepare them for all kinds of future tasks.  I think this will be "my topic" in this year's GPP.  More on first ideas in a following post.

You can read more about my scientific work and interests on my website.

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