ERLNMYR is the business of improviser and doctor in linguistics Ben Verhoeven. During his scientific career he became fascinated with science communication for which he used more and more of his improvisational skills. Below you will find an overview of Ben’s background and running projects in both science and improvisation.
Ben has been acting in improvisational theater since 2011. After a couple of years in the proverbial classroom, he co-founded Swaajp Improtheater with a couple of like-minded spirits; a real Antwerp theater company and later on even improvisational school. Swaajp does not only provide theatrical performances in Dutch but just as well in English.
Ben is also a member of Commotie, a musical improv ensemble that in 2017 earned the award for “best longform improv show in Flanders” at the improv competition Kemphanen.
Ben is often seen at international improv festivals, whether it is to watch performances and learn from workshops and masterclasses, to teach workshops himself, or to perform for example with the Dutch-Belgian ensemble Werewolves, The Improv Show or with the trio Prism. With the latter group he won the Kemphanen award again in 2019.
As a passionate organizer he is also founding member of The SIN — an international network of ambitious improv players and organizers in Europe.
Last but not least, Ben is very interested in music. He shows this not only with his voice, but just as well with his hands and feet. It’s not uncommon for him to step aside from the stage to assist the theatrical performance as percussionist. A beautiful example is Improovelicious, an international improv festival in Leuven where he was the in-house drummer in 2018.
His latest accomplishment is writing the chapter “Improvisation and the Scientific Method” for the book Essays on Improv.
Ben is a computational linguist by education. In short, this means that he is a linguist that studies and models language with computers.
His academic career started in 2012 with the international internship at the North-West University in South Africa, where he researched how the meaning of newly compounded words can automatically be discovered.
Some time later he started his doctorate at the University of Antwerp with the AMiCA project, a project that uses text technology to automatically recognize transgressive behaviour on social media. In 2014 he received a Young Researchers Grant from FWO Vlaanderen (the Flemish foundation for scientific research), which allowed him four more years to research author profiling. The main research question: “Which characteristics of the author can we predict solely based on their text”.
During this doctorate, Ben got interested in science communication. With success, as show his third place at FameLab Belgium, his science comedy at Bright Club Brussels and his presence at many Science Days, Science Weeks and the Children’s University. Because of these efforts and achievements, in 2017 he was awarded the Annual Science Communication Prize at the KVAB, the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts.
In June 2018, Ben defended his doctoral thesis and was successfully granted the diploma and title of Doctor in Linguistics.