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SSST INTERNATIONAL: MS SAMRA ALISPAHIĆ, SSST'S VISITING SCHOLAR FROM AUSTRALIA

Date: December 21st, 2016

Since its founding in 2004, SSST has maintained an open door policy that is aimed not only towards our faculty and staff, prospective candidates, students and alumni, but which extends to scientists, researchers and experts who are not employed by SSST, but who  share our vision, goals and qualities we pride ourselves on.

We are now presenting a story of Ms Samra Alispahić, a researcher and a visiting scholar from Australia but of a Bosnian descent who has proudly embraced her heritage. She was brought to us through our Modern Languages Department – English Department and its professors Sabina Gadžo Mutapčić and Mirela Karadža. Ms Alispahić spent two months at our Campus and conducted research about Bosnian language and speech, the particularities of the sound and pronunciation with focus on the localities of Sarajevo and Mostar.

Read more in an interview she was so kind to do with our PR Team.

 

Q: In order to make a short introduction, could you please tell us something more about your work and this specific research that you've been working on at SSST?

I'm currently a HDR student and employee at the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour & Development, Western Sydney University. Research at the MARCS Institute is conducted in five interdisciplinary research programs that study the scientific bases of human communication; Speech and Language, Human-Machine interaction, Multisensory Communication, Music Cognition and Action and Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience. Specifically, I'm part of the Speech and Language group and my thesis as well as work projects that I have been involved in seek to further our understanding on how the brain perceives and processes speech sounds within and between languages.

Through my work, I have had the great privilege to work with and be mentored by academics who are not only leaders in their field within Australia but also around the world, such as Professor Denis Burnham, A/Professor Paola Escudero, Dr Karen Mulak, Dr Mark Antoniou and Dr Marina Kalashnikova. As well, I have had the opportunity to do research on multiple languages such as Australian English, Spanish, Dutch, Arabic, Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean to name a few. However, so far I have not been able to include Bosnian in any of my research as all the literature that is currently available on Bosnian is purely descriptive and no scientific acoustic measurements exist for this language.

As a result, during the period of 9 September to 11 November 2016, and under the grant issued out to Western Sydney University by the Australian Union of BiH Associations (AUBHA), I visited the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology to collect recordings of Bosnian speakers' speech. The recordings were done with special equipment that I brought with me specifically for this project, namely the Glottal Nasalance System. Importantly, this is the first time that this type of research, with this type of equipment and on such a scale has been conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the South-Eastern region.

 

Q: How did you come accross us and select SSST for the purpose of this research? Why did you choose B&H and this particular institution?

It was very important to conduct my research in the same way as if it were in Australia. Thus, SSST through their very well established system, high-quality and up-to-date facilities and staff that are of international calibre facilitated the nature and purpose of my research better than any other university in BiH.  Simply, it felt like a natural selection for this project.

 

Q: What is your impression on the institution, our faculty and staff? Could you give us your personal insight?

As mentioned previously, the institution, faculty and staff are of international calibre. For instance, I contacted the English Department at SSST at the beginning of the year explaining the purpose of my project. The Head of the Department, Sabina Gadžo Mutapčić, immediately recognized the importance of this project and mediated my visit to SSST from the very beginning to the very end. I am very grateful to her for all of her support, professional insight and time dedicated to me and the project itself. As well, I am very appreciative to Mirela Karadža for all of her help with participant recruitment in the Mostar region.

 

Q: When and where do you plan to present and promote the results of this research and how do you intend to put them in good use? Can you give us some preliminary information, something you came accross or find particularly interesting?

Upon my return to Sydney, the collected data will first be analysed through the means of detailed scientific acoustic analysis. These analyses will ultimately give us specific information about the sounds in the Bosnian language such as their average measurements and characteristics. Findings stemming from the analyses will then be written up and submitted for publication in an international scientific journal and will potentially be presented at international conferences.  At this stage, I am unfortunately unable to give you any preliminary information as it is common practice to wait until results are officially published before divulging any offical findings.

 

Q: What are your future plans and related areas of interest? Would you like to continue our collaboration on future projects?

My future plans are to continue with research and I am most certainly open to the idea of continuing our collaboration. It is my intent that the current project will form a base upon which we will be able to build and ultimately conduct further research projects that not only include adults but also infants, children and the elderly. Ultimately, my wish is to see more research and international publications stemming from Bosnia.

 

Q: Dear Samra, speaking on behalf of SSST, we really enjoyed having you as our guest and being given the opportunity to contribute to your work and area of expertise. Hopefully we will be sharing more stories like this. Thanky you for choosing SSST and thank you for this interview!

Thank you for your time. Also, I would like to thank SSST, its staff and students for welcoming me with open arms and giving me the opportunity to conduct and introduce my reserach.

SSST: You are very welcome, it was our pleasure!

 

SSST and all its departments are open for partnership and collaboration with prominent and esteemed experts and other interested parties who want to make relevant contribution through joint projects and promote positive stories and high quality standards. Visiting scholars and guest lecturers in relevant areas are always welcome to conduct researches and share their knowledge and findings.

If you are interested in such collaboration, please feel free to contact us on +33 975 003 and lejla.selmanovic@ssst.edu.ba.

 

 

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Interviewer: Lejla Selmanović

Photo credit: Lejla Selmanović and Samra Alispahić, private archive

Gallery:
  • SSST INTERNATIONAL: MS SAMRA ALISPAHIĆ, SSST'S VISITING SCHOLAR FROM AUSTRALIA
  • SSST INTERNATIONAL: MS SAMRA ALISPAHIĆ, SSST'S VISITING SCHOLAR FROM AUSTRALIA
  • SSST INTERNATIONAL: MS SAMRA ALISPAHIĆ, SSST'S VISITING SCHOLAR FROM AUSTRALIA
  • SSST INTERNATIONAL: MS SAMRA ALISPAHIĆ, SSST'S VISITING SCHOLAR FROM AUSTRALIA