This Valentine’s Day we wanted to bring you a story about love. Lucky for everyone, we found two UALR students who met, fell for each other, got married, and now are co-authoring a paper together. Maybe it’s the nerd in us, but we think Ben and Annie’s story is the sweetest thing, especially when they tell it.
BEN: I’m a second-year Donaghey Scholar with a major in anthropology and a minor in French. My focus in the anthropology department is in biological, or physical anthropology, more specifically primatology. I’ve done a few semesters of volunteer/shadowing at the Little Rock Zoo with the Great Ape Enrichment program, and I hope to graduate with my bachelor’s in May 2015.
ANNIE: I’m a second semester graduate student in the Rhetoric and Writing department. I completed my B.A. in Professional and Technical Writing in the Spring 2013. I currently work in the University Writing Center on campus, but I hope to be teaching at UALR in the Fall of 2014.
How Did We Meet? How Long Have We Been Together?
Annie: Well…I met Ben right after my 21st birthday. The whole thing is a really long story…
Ben: I was living with my best friend at the time, who worked with Annie. The funny thing is, I actually worked at the same place in a different department, but didn’t know Annie worked there as well.
Annie: Yeah, we passed like ships in the night for a few years…but you know how small Little Rock is. We were bound to meet eventually!
Ben: My friend, also named Ben, invited her over one night after telling me how much I’d like her and how much he thought we’d click. It took us about 10 minutes to do just that, and we’ve been…pretty much attached at the proverbial hip since then. Ben was our best man at the wedding, needless to say.
Annie: Haha, yeah, I was set up! I didn’t get any background info on Ben, but when I met him I thought he was SO handsome and smart. We played a drinking game, kind of like Truth or Dare, and I dared him to kiss me! …but I asked in French …
Ben: I knew the most negligible amount of French then…but I got the point. I kissed her, and…that was that. We’ve been together for nearly eight years, married for almost four of those.
What Are Our Interests?
Annie: He ended up a French minor! I guess I got him hooked, lol. Ben also has an amazing love for humans, and was destined for anthropology, but to both of our surprise he also took to primatology like a natural.
Ben: Annie has been a lifelong adorer of language, and she also has an innate ability to write whatever she decides to write, ridiculously well.
When Did We See How They Overlap?
Ben: We’ve known that our interests overlap for most of our relationship, but just never realized how they could professionally overlap until recently.
Annie: Yeah, it was sort of shocking. Early in our dating we shared a basic love of learning, music, art, pretty much tons of interests, but when we had to get serious and declare for our future professions, we were a little sad because we assumed that with him in primatology, and me in writing and language, we’d never really have an opportunity to research together, or form theories that involve both of our fields.
How Did The Project Come To Be? What is The Project?
Ben: Annie came to me with an article from her language theory course that asserted a lack of evidence for the comparison of human language systems to that of living primates.
Annie: I knew, from the past few semesters of listening to Ben talk about his research that some of the claims were outdated, and I wanted to know what he thought of the article’s ideas. I then took the information he gave me to Dr. Kleine, my professor, who suggested we co-author a paper since we had issues with the claim.
Ben: I’ll be authoring our paper from the primatologist’s perspective and Annie will be authoring as a linguist. We’d like to look into treating ape communication the same way that we treat analysis of human language, if that’s possible, if it’s ever been done before.
Annie: We’d like to see if we can find ways to use studies of primates today to locate some shared, deep features in our ways of communicating. Thanks to Ben educating me about our evolutionary relationship to primates, I now think of them as our quieter cousins!
Ben: The ideas have been pouring out of us since we realized we wanted to explore this, and it looks like we’ve got a whole semester’s worth of hard library research ahead of us. Dr. Kleine is encouraging us to try for publication, and we couldn’t be more excited!