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Dan Dediu -

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I was born on the 31st of August, 1974 in Focsani, Vrancea, Romania and I had a very nice childhood with my brother, Sorin (now software engineer), in Milcovul, a small village just about 10 km south-east of Focsani. Both my parents were teachers: my father - mathematics and my mother - biology.

In 1985 I have seen a computer for the first time in my life and in 1986 I learned to program in BASIC on a ZX Spectrum Romanian clone, HC-85. Later, around 1987, I learned to program in assembler for the Z80 microprocessor, but I preferred to actually hand-code my programs and write the machine code bytes directly in memory. During these years, I learned and used to various degrees Pascal, LISP, Prolog, Ada, Modula-2, ALGOL, Forth and bits of Fortran, but in 1989, just months before the Romanian Revolution, I discovered The C Programming Language of B.W. Kernighan and D.M. Ritchie. And since then, I did most of my programming in C and C++ until I became a full-time academic and started my love-hate relationship with R (that was back in 2005 when R was still geeky and there was no RStudio).

During my secondary school and high school years I participated in various National Contests, especially Physics (1989) and Computer Science (1990 to 1993). In 1993 I became a student of the Faculty of Mathematics, the University of Bucharest, and I graduated (in 1997) with a joint degree in Mathematics and Computer Science, with a thesis on Artificial Life, especially Genetic Algorithms/Programming. My main interests at the time were Computability Theory, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Mechanics, General Relativity and Cosmology, but I was especially intrigued by Cognitive Psychology and some forms of Psychotherapy. In 1996 I "discovered" Evolutionary Biology through a Christmas' Holiday reading of R. Dawkins' River Out of Eden and I immediately became obsessed by it (and the other books by Dawkins, as well), absorbing at an incredible speed for me now molecular biology, evolution, natural history, genetics and paleontology, but avoiding with nearly 100% success botanics, ecology and systematics.

In the meantime, in 1996 I also became a student of the (former) Faculty of Psychology, Pedagogy and Sociology, the University of Bucharest. In 1997 I met Psychiatrist Dr. Dan Rosca and I became fascinated with psychiatry. Also in 1997 I met Dr. Dumitru Ivana and, especially with Dr. Nicu Dumitrascu, we started working mainly with two projective psychological tests: the Rorschach Inkblot Test and the Szondi Drives Test.

During these years I also met my wife, Alexandra Dima, who is a researcher in Health Psychology at UvA, but also an amazing painter.

In autumn 2000 I applied to the Master's Program in Neurobiology and Behavior, Faculty of Biology, the University of Bucharest. There, I became interested in language evolution (following a conversation with Dr. Carmen Strungaru, my thesis supervisor) and I decided to write my dissertation on this topic. During the spring 2001, I was a Scorates/Erasmus exchange student and I spent three wonderful months at the (former) Max Planck Institute for Human Ethology in Andechs, working with Prof. Dr. Wulf Schiefenhövel.

During this time (1997 - 2004), I also worked for the biggest Romanian software company, Softwin, as a programmer, software engineer, project manager and technical leader on various projects (including parsing, content protection and e-Learning, this last one involving the creation of interactive materials for teaching in class, basically simulations of various phenomena hard to explain in physics, biology, chemistry and geography).

In January 2004 I started working with Dr. Simon Kirby and Prof. Jim Hurford on my PhD in the Language Evolution and Computation Research Unit, Linguistics and English Language, The University of Edinburgh, and in November 2006 I submitted my thesis "Non-Spurious Correlations between Genetic and Linguistic Diversities in the Context of Human Evolution". In February 2007 I had a successful viva (no corrections), with Prof. April McMahon and Dr. Daniel Nettle as examiners.

Between July 2007 and June 2008 I received a one year ESRC postdoctoral fellowship, also at the University of Edinburgh, Linguistics and English Language, mentor: Prof. D. Robert Ladd, during which I managed to publish the main results of my PhD work.

Since the 1st of July, 2008, I am a member of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, the Language and Genetics department, and affiliated with the Language and Cognition and Neurobiology of Language departments.

As of October 2012 I am leading a new research group (Genetic biases in Language and Speech or G[ɜ]bils) funded by a five-year NWO Vidi grant. Scott Moisik and Rick Janssen are core members of this group (and Carly Jaques helped us a lot as research assistant), but we are collaborating with many institutions (such as the Donders Institute, the Radboud UMC, and the Archaeology Department at Leiden University) and individual researchers around the world.

Since January 2015 I am - together with Bart de Boer - the Executive Editor of the new & cool Journal of Language Evolution (Oxford University Press) which we hope will become the place to publish empirically-grounded research about language origins and evolution.

I sometimes blog about R, genetics and language, and tweet quite a bit as

I am also a member of the Philological Society, LAGB, The European Society of Human Genetics and the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association.

Last checked 2015-10-06

Dan Dediu

Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
PO Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands