Reuben Sanderson

PhD candidate in Linguistics

I decided to study at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington because I knew that it housed the best linguistics department in the country. In my time here, the staff has done so much to foster my passion for linguistics and academia in general. I have presented at international conferences, completed research internships, and been encouraged to pursue my passions as an academic.

I love studying linguistics because it is so relevant to every part of my life. In my time here, I have learned about how language changes over time, how people use humour to challenge power imbalances, and how small talk is an important part of workplace interaction. Whatever facet of life I am interested in, I have found that language plays a crucial part in it.

I decided to take up postgraduate study because I wanted to keep pursuing academia. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a Summer Research Scholarship, which then led me into my Master of Arts in Linguistics. My time spent as a Master’s student working alongside the incredible staff here encouraged me to consider pursuing a doctorate. Doing a PhD has been an incredible opportunity. I was supported to choose a research topic that really excites me and fully allows me to pursue my academic interests.

My thesis explores how people collaborate online in the workplace—as the contemporary workplace changes and more people work from home. My research investigates how people's interactive practices are evolving to meet these developments. During my research, I draw on multimodal theory to go beyond looking at just the spoken word and include all facets of interaction—gaze, gesture, posture, etc—in my analysis.

My PhD has allowed me to research a topic that really interests me with supervisors that really guide my learning. I have felt welcomed to the department as a fellow staff member where my ideas and contributions are valued amongst my colleagues. My experience in the field is recognised and has led to a position tutoring a course each trimester.

I grew up in Wellington and I still absolutely love this city. There are so many opportunities for students here to really make the most out of themselves. From the vibrant cultural and artistic life of the city to its being the centre of government, there really is something for everyone here.