Informal biography

I was born on February 25, 1979 in Bilbao, the largest city on the North coast of Spain. This makes me Basque by birth, but not by ethnicity, as both sides of my family come from outside the Basque Country. Like 31% of people living there, I consider myself as much Basque as Spanish, and you can refer to me either way. If you are interested in the issue of Basque-Spanish identity conflicts, I can recommend this semi-recent documentary.

It is not totally a joke to say that I made it to grad school despite the educational system's best efforts to the contrary. This was mostly due to my parents' insistence that I receive the education they didn't have access to during their own childhoods. The record shows that I breezed through primary and secondary school and, in a youthful display of not knowing what to do with my life, I ended up enrolling in the English Philology major at the University of Deusto. Fortunately for me, that degree included a linguistics minor, taught by people who saw I had a talent for it. They had the good sense to send me to the former Victoria University of Manchester (nowadays part of the University of Manchester) for the whole of my third year, so that I could study linguistics almost exclusively.

Right after getting my BA, I moved to Leiden in 2002 to get my PhD under Lisa Cheng, with a one-term interlude in 2005 at UMass Amherst. In those years, I also dabbled in improvised comedy as a way of coping with the stress of grad school. In finally graduated in May 2007; since the regular defense room was being renovated at the time, I had the unusual experience of defending my dissertation in a University-owned church.

Following my graduation, I taught Hispanic linguistics at the University of Amsterdam for the Fall 2007 term, and then the Basque Government awarded me a generous scholarship to spend the whole of 2008 at UC Santa Cruz. During that year, I enjoyed more sunlight than ever before, produced some interesting research, and, most important of all, met my wife. She is fully responsible for introducing me to road and trail running as an alternative way of coping with academic stress, and 50% responsible for the existence of our daughter Emma María.

Since early 2009, I have been in Gisbert Fanselow's syntax/morphology group in Potsdam, doing both teaching and research. In July 2011, Gisbert and me became the joint P.I.s of one of the subprojects of SFB 632, a collaborative research project on several different aspects of Information Structure.

As of January 2013, I am a brain tumor survivor. If someone you know and care about is in a similar situation, I can recommend both this movie (based on the screenwriter's own life) and this book. You might also consider donating some money or time to a cancer research organization of your choice.