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Research Communications

Postdoc profiles: Beula Magimairaj studies causes of children’s language impairments 

Note: In honor of National Postdoc Appreciation Week, Sept. 17-21, we're spotlighting postdoctoral fellows on the Ohio University campus. A postdoctoral scholar ("postdoc") is an individual holding a doctoral degree who is engaged in a temporary period of mentored research and/or scholarly training for the purpose of acquiring the professional skills needed to pursue a career path of his or her choosing.

By Jessica Salerno
Sept. 14, 2012

The sheer amount of work that a postdoctoral fellowship requires is not for the faint of heart, so a passion for the subject is practically a requirement. Luckily for Beula Magimairaj, she doesn’t have to worry about a lack of commitment to her research on children’s language impairments. Magimairaj describes the language sciences as close to her heart.

Through a $2.4 million grant to her faculty mentor James Montgomery and his colleagues, the postdoctoral fellow is working to better understand the underlying causes of sentence comprehension difficulties in children with specific language impairment. The project involves studying approximately 300 children over a five-year period.

“I’m getting to work with the nuts and bolts of a big project, which is great experience for me,” she said.

 Beula Magimairaj
Beula Magimairaj. Photo provided by College of Health Sciences and Professions.

That experience includes learning more about the grant writing process and collaborating with research faculty.

Magimairaj cites Montgomery, professor of communication sciences and disorders, as a role model. He’s not only taught her patience when it comes to the research, but also other important aspects of dealing with a project of such a large scale.

“Specifically when you’re working with other people, it’s not just a one-man show, so it kind of needs a high level of coordination and time management for it to proceed smoothly,” she said.

Magimairaj has worked as a postdoctoral fellow since March of 2011, but she is no stranger to Ohio University’s campus. She obtained her doctoral degree in language science here in March 2010.

She says that the postdoctoral position has allowed her to focus solely on research, allowing her to give quality time to the project in a way that she might not have been able to if she had other responsibilities. The position also gives her the flexibility to work on research publications and apply for independent research grants. Her favorite part of the research is working with the kids, which has proven to be “the most valuable experience,” she says.

The next phase of the project, which is in its third year, requires the team to recruit and work with more children with language impairment in order to add to their data, a challenge Magimairaj is ready to take on. Although currently applying for academic positions in a variety of locations within and outside of the United States, for now she’s happy to be in Athens and hopes to work another year here.