Asli Ozyurek - People

Gesture and Sign Language lab is located in two places, mainly at the Max Planck Institute in Psycho-linguistics in Nijmegen, Netherlands and at Koc University, Psychology Department in Istanbul Turkey.

GSL also has collaborations (funded by National Institutes of Health, NIH) with researchers in Susan Goldin-Meadow Lab at the University of Chicago.

Nijmegen lab - Postdocs

  • Emanuela Campisi

Emanuela Campisi studied Philosophy at the University of Palermo. She completed her PhD thesis at the same University, including a six months internship at the Max Planck Institute Nijmegen. Here she worked with Asli Ozyurek on Sicilian gestures.

In May 2011 she joined the Neurobiology of Language Group at the Max Planck Institute Nijmegen (MPI), for six months she worked as a postdoc on the role of communicative intention in gesture production. She is currently a postdoc researcher at the Center for Language Studies of the Radboud University. With a recently awarded Marie Curie Fellowship started a new project in September 2012 about comparison of Child- and Adult-directed communication in Italian and Dutch speakers. The research will be carried out at the MPI in collaboration with Asli Ozyurek. more > 



  • Gerardo Ortega

Gerardo Ortega completed his PhD in 2012 at the Deafness, Cognition and Language research centre (DCAL) at University College London (UCL). His dissertation, supervised by Prof. Gary Morgan and Prof. Benice Woll, investigated how hearing adults learn a second language in a second (visual) modality. Specifically, he explored how sign structure, iconicity and gesture influence the emergence of a signed phonological system in hearing adults.

Gerardo is currently working as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics with Prof. Asli Ozyurek. For the duration of this project he will continue exploring the mechanisms underlying the acquisition of a sign language as a second language (L2) and understand how iconicity and gesture are exploited during L2 sign development. In addition, he will investigate language acquisition in deaf children learning Turkish Sign Language as a first language (L1). His research interests are bilingual bimodalism, lexical access in signs, gesture, L1 and L2 phonological development and the role of iconicity in linguistic processes.

  • Inge Zwitserlood

Inge Zwitserlood studied linguistics at Utrecht University, where she finished both her MA and PhD. She has been involved in the development of education materials for deaf children as well as in the organization of an exhibition on (sign) language. After her graduation, she focused on applied sign language research at one of the institutes for the deaf in the Netherlands for five years, and became affiliated with Radboud University. more >

She currently does fundamental linguistic research on Sign Language of the Netherlands and Turkish Sign Language with Asli on her ERC project.

PhD students

David Peeters studied Philosophy (BA), Communication and Information Sciences (BA, MA) and Cognitive Neuroscience (MSc) at Radboud University Nijmegen. During his studies, he spent time at Université Paris IV - la Sorbonne in Paris, carried out ERP studies on bilingualism in the Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive in Marseille, and worked as a research assistant at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (MPI).

He obtained a 3-year doctoral fellowship at the International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences under supervision of Asli Ozyurek and Peter Hagoort. In his PhD-project, he is investigating the comprehension of referential acts in triadic situations in different languages, both looking at demonstratives and pointing gestures, applying neuroscientific methods. more >

Louise Schubotz got her BA in Scandinavian Studies and English Literature and Linguistics at the University in Freiburg, Germany, and started with her ReMA Language & Communication at the RU Nijmegen in 2009. From September 2010 till August 2011 she worked as a trainee for Mirjam Ernestus (on the influence of pragmatic factors on phonetic reduction). She wrote her MA thesis under Asli Oyurek's and Judith Holler's supervision. The topic wass the influence of eye gaze on co-speech gesture - speech integration.

In January 2012 she started a PhD with the MPG in the MaxNetAging project. After half a year in Rostock, Germany, she came back to the MPI in Nijmegen in August 2012 to work on her PhD thesis under Asli's supervision. The topic of this research is gestures and aging.

Beyza Sumer has a degree in Foreign Language Education, Bogazici University (2004). She worked as an English teacher at all levels in Turkey for five years and attended MA- and Phd courses on Applied Lingusitics, Bogazici University. She is interested in Turkish Sign Language and its acquisition by deaf children.

Beyza has started her Phd from the ERC project as of February 2010. She investigates language specific aspects of spatial language in Turkish Sign Language supervised by Asli Ozyurek. more >

MA students / Trainees

  • Zeynep Azar

Zeynep Azar has a degree (BA) in Foreign Language Education, Bogazici University (2010) and a Linguistic certificate upon completion of pre-master courses offered by Linguistics Department at Bogazici University. During her studies she spent an exchange semester in Germany, at Chmenitz University of Technology supported by an Erasmus grant. After graduation she worked as an English teacher at primary school level in Turkey for a year and then started Language & Communication Joint Research Master Program at Tilburg University and Radboud University Nijmegen.

Zeynep is working as a research assistant in a KNAW research program and investigating perception of flaming on YouTube. At the same she has been carrying research training with Asli Ozyurek and David Peeters on factors affecting choice of demonstratives in triadic situations in Turkish and Dutch. She is investigating processing of joint attention in comprehending demonstratives in Turkish for her thesis.

Research assistants

  • Renske Schilte

Renske Schilte completed her BA in Linguistics and her MA in Language- and Speech Pathology at the Radboud University Nijmegen. She wrote her master thesis about speech perception in dyslexic children. Currently she is studying for a bachelor's degree in Education to teach Dutch language in secondary school.

Renske started working as a research assistant for Asli Ozyurek in November 2012. Besides her supporting tasks for Asli she helps collecting the data for Emanuela Campisi's project.



Hukumran Sumer graduated at the Department of Physical Education, University of Canakkale. He also completed his MA program on Educational Sciences, University of Canakkale, and wrote his thesis about problems of deaf children in physical education courses at Turkish schools (2006).

He knows Turkish Sign Language and he works as a research assistant in Asli Ozyurek's project supported by an ERC Starting Grant.

Past Lab Members

Zeynep Barlas did a MA in Cognitive Science, Bogazici University, Istanbul and has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Engineering, Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul. She worked as a research assistant at Koc University, Istanbul.

  • Agata Blichewicz

Agata Blichewicz studied Modern Greek and English Philology in Poland. She was also an Erasmus student at the University of Crete and followed a master in Linguistics at Radboud University Nijmegen.

The aim of her internship was to study the functions of the Greek pragmatic gestures and to help with Asli Ozyureks gesture projects (planned for February to May 2010). Its last part has been done in Greece in order to collect data for her MA thesis.



Miriam de Boer studied Psychology (BSc) at Tilburg University. Afterwards, she studied Cognitive Neuroscience with a specialization in Psycholinguistics at the Radboud University, Nijmegen. Currently, she is working as a PhD student in Ivan Toni’s Intention and Action group at the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging.

She is fascinated by how well and how effortless humans communicate, while in fact quite a complicated mechanism lies underneath. During her PhD she will focus on how communicators attempt to convey their intentions to their addressees by language and gesture. In collaboration with Asli Ozyurek, she will investigate which cognitive processes are involved in successful communication. So far, she studied the neural correlates of communicative intent with fMRI. Currently, she investigates individual differences in communicative success, and is setting up behavioural experiments to study the function of co-speech gestures.



  • Zahra Bornaee

Zahra Bornaee has a degree (BA) in English translation from Azad University, North Tehran branch, Iran (2010). During her studies and also after graduation she was working as a translator and an interpreter in two companies. Meanwhile she was working as an English tutor.

Zahra started with her Master's in Linguistics at the Radboud University Nijmegen in 2012 and finished it in 2013. She was working in Asli Ozyurek's lab, as a trainee, while at the same time she was working on her MA thesis under Asli's supervision. The study was on Turkish mother-child dyads, deaf mothers-deaf children who know turkish sign language, and hearing mothers-deaf children who we call "home signers" since they do not know sign language and they just invent their own sign system to communicate. They were looking for differences and similarities of strategies which these dyads are using to achieve triadic joint attention, in their interactions.

Sandra Debreslioska got her MA degree in Linguistics at Radboud University Nijmegen in 2010. During her time in Nijmegen (2009-2010), she completed a research training internship at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Language Acquisition Group and Nijmegen Gesture Centre with Marianne Gullberg.

She also worked as a research assistant for Asli Ozyurek and under her supervision she wrote her MA Thesis with the title “Handling discourse: Reference tracking in speech and gesture in German narratives”. Currently she is a PhD student at the Centre for Languages and Literature at Lund University in Sweden. more >

Anne Therese Frederiksen got a Master's degree at University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

From March to July 2010 she followed an internship supervised by Asli Ozyurek focusing on gesture and language. Currently she is a PhD student in the Linguistics Department at the University of California, San Diego. more >

Reyhan Furman double-majored in Psychology and Guidance and Psychological Counselling at Bogazici University, Istanbul. Afterwards, she completed her M.A. in Psychology at the same university. She has taught various Psychology courses at Okan University and Fatih University in Istanbul and also worked as an instructor of Turkish at Bogazici University.

She started working with Asli Ozyurek in 2001 as a research assistant on numerous international projects and has been her supervisee since 2008. She defended her PhD in the department of Linguistics at Radboud University in June 2012. Her dissertation examined how Turkish-speaking children learn to describe caused motion events in their speech and gestures. She is now working as a postdoctoral researcher in Ulf Liszkowski's Communication Before Language Group. more >


  • Judith Holler

Judith Holler studied Psychology at the Georg-August Universität Göttingen in Germany. She completed her doctoral dissertation in the UK at the School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, which focused on the semantic interaction of gesture and speech. Following her graduation, Judith was appointed as an Assistant Professor in Psychology at the same institution. Since then, her research has focused on communicative functions of co-speech gestures and the influence of social context and pragmatic aspects on gesture use.

Judith has been awarded a Marie-Curie Fellowship to work on a project entitled 'From action to communication: the role of intention and social cues in the perception of gestures as communicative acts'. This research is carried out at the Max Planck Institute Nijmegen in collaboration with Asli Ozyurek, Peter Hagoort, and Spencer Kelly (Colgate University, USA). Judith is currently working for the Language and Cognition department at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. more >

  • Lian van Hoof

Lian van Hoof studied English (BA and MA) at Radboud University Nijmegen and is now working on her second MA thesis for the research master Language and Communication at Radboud University Nijmegen and Tilburg University.

Asli Ozyurek supervised Lian’s thesis on embodiment, event type and gesture shape in German descriptions of motion events. Lian also worked as a research assistant in Pamela Perniss’s project on (co)referents in German co-speech gestures and Deutsche Gebarensprache (German Sign Language).


Menno Jonker has a MA degree in History of Art, Radboud University Nijmegen with a special interest in seventeenth century art of the Low Countries. more >

From July 2009 until July 2012 he processed and archived Asli Ozyurek's research data from the field. He is also the builder of this website.

Funda Kamiloglu graduated at Psychology Department, Bogazici University, Istanbul in 2008. She did her MA in Cognitive Science, Bogazici University. She is interested in language and cognition, and wants to specialize in psycholinguistics.

She worked as Asli Ozyurek’s research assistant in the Istanbul lab (Koc University). She took part in collecting data from homesigner and deaf children (as well as hearing adults and preschool children), and in the coding of these data.

Sule Kibar worked as a deaf research assistant in Asli Ozyurek's project supported by an ERC Starting Grant. After completing high-school in Istanbul in 2004, she got involved in projects related to Turkish Sign Language (TID). She attended courses in teaching TID and narrated stories in TID in a TV program on a national TV channel. She also taught TID in various courses in Turkey. Between 2001 and 2002, she worked as a research assistant in TID studies at Koc University together with Asli Ozyurek and her lab members.

Sule worked here from November 2012 until May 2013 and helped coding data collected from TID signers.

  • Idil Kokal

Idil Kokal studied Psychology at the Koç University, Istanbul. Thereafter she obtained an MSc in Neuroscience at the Graduate School of Neural & Behavioural Sciences, International Max Planck Research School, Tübingen. Following her graduation, she joined Christian Keyser’s Social Brain lab at the BCN Neuroimaging Center, Groningen. She investigated the neural signature of joint actions and the role of the Mirror Neuron System in engaging in joint actions with fMRI.

She joined the Intention and Action Research Group (Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour) and the Neurobiology of Language Research Group (Gesture and Sign Language Lab, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics) as a postdoc in January 2011.

Vanja de Lint obtained all her degrees so far from Utrecht University, but she spent large amounts of her academic time in different places such as Amsterdam (UvA), Spain (Universidad de Granada, EOI de Madrid) and the United States (MIT, UConn), pursuing her broad interest in both intellectual and social challenges.

For her MA in Linguistics she designed an experimental study of argument structure in classifier constructions of American Sign Language. Following up on this, she is now working on a PhD project studying argument structure and its acquisition in classifier constructions of Nederlandse Gebarentaal.

Daniele Orlandi studied Cognitive and Psychobiological Sciences, University of Padua and is interested in iconicity in sign language; second language acquisition; reading psychology, and bilingualism.

From December (2009) to June (2010) he did an internship under the supervison of Asli Ozyurek and Marianne Gullberg. He is investigating how highly iconic signs can affect learnability of the corresponding words of a new language in a task of SLA. The idea is to point out the possibility that highly iconic signs can help to memorize new words better.


Pamela Perniss studied General Linguistics and Comparative Literature at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen and the Universität zu Köln, and obtained an MA in Linguistics at the Universität zu Köln. Her PhD research was carried at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, culminating in dissertation on "Space and Iconicity in German Sign Language (DGS)".

She was involved in the NWO-funded VIDI project "Relations between modality and language structure: Insights from comparisons of sign languages and gestures" (PI Asli Ozyurek) at the Radboud University Nijmegen and the MPI for Psycholinguistics untill March 2012. She is currently a staff member at University College London. more >

Dalya Samur double majored in Psychology (BA) and Sociology (BA) at Koc University, Istanbul. She worked in the Koc Cognition Lab on bilingual memory. Afterwards, she has done an internship for 4 months at Utrecht University regarding the topic embodiment of language.

She studied Cognitive Neuroscience (MSc) at Radboud University within the track of ‘Language and Communication’. The aim of her internship included addressing the differences in mode of representation in co-speech gesture among languages.

Manuela Schuetze did her BSc in General and Theoretical Linguistics at the University of Potsdam. She then started her Master studies in the Cognitive Science Program at the University of Osnabrueck.

Manuela wrote her Master thesis with Judith Holler and Peter Hagoort. The topic of her thesis was the integration of social cues in the perception of gestures and language. Currently she is a research assistant of the Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI Nijmegen.

Johanna Tewes finished her Masters in Cognitive Psychology in July 2009. Her major field of interest is semantics in several language and social cognition relations.

She worked at the Max Planck Institute as a research assistant for Asli Ozyurek from October 2009 - October 2010. She was mainly involved in the data analysis of a project in which deaf and hearing people are compared regarding their strategies to express picture contents in gestures.