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IAFPA 2015: A Newbie’s Perspective

Both newbies to the field, IAFPA was our first experience of a large-scale linguistics conference and we didn’t know what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised at the breadth, variety and quality of topics covered by the speakers at IAFPA. It was a huge learning curve, both in terms of fundamental research in forensic phonetics, and also in how presentations relating to the field are given. The keynote speaker Mike Burton’s presentation about facial recognition was a highlight of the conference, drawing direct parallels to similar work in forensic phonetics and providing a fresh perspective on points of caution for forensic casework.

More experienced members of the association made special efforts to ensure newcomers felt welcomed and included. Comments after presentations were for the most part positive and insightful, often leading to in-depth discussions. Everyone was approachable, enthusiastic and genuinely interested in our backgrounds and opinions of the presentations. This created a constructive yet relaxed atmosphere, the perfect environment for budding linguists to network and bounce ideas off each other. Another aspect of the conference that contributed to this encouraging setting was the best student paper award. Both of us felt inspired to come back next year and try our luck!

The social events, like the whole conference, were very well organised and ran smoothly. It was fun (and at times mildly terrifying) to watch linguists outside their natural habitats, cutting shapes on the dance floor after a full day of presentations; it was testament to the casual yet professional style of the conference that a balance between work and play was maintained.

Many thanks are due to Tina Cambier-Langeveld, Niels Schiller, Jos Vermeulen, Willemijn Heeren, David van der Vloed, Gerard Tolsma and Anne Rose Haverkamp as the organising committee, as well as everyone else involved at Leiden University and IAFPA itself.

We’re really looking forward to hosting IAFPA’s 25th anniversary conference in the city of its birth, York, next year. Ee by gum, it’ll be a reight good ‘un.

Hannah Hedegard
Alexandra Daley