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Warm welcome to our new grad students!

This Fall, four new grad students will be joining RU Linguistics! Please keep reading to learn more about them!

To our new grad students, Welcome!

Jiayuan Chen

Hi all! My name’s Jiayuan (t͡ɕjä⁵⁵.ɥɛn³⁵)! I also go by my English name Billy, which my first-grade English teacher gave me. My classmates and professors used to call me by my last name Chen as well. Feel free to call me whatever you prefer!

Here is me enjoying some Japanese food: (I’m also a big fan of Sichuanese cuisine!)

I grew up in Beijing as a monolingual and I have spent most of my adult life in the US. As of now, besides Mandarin and English, I only (regrettably) know some basic to intermediate Japanese and some bad imitations of Sichuanese, where my mom comes from. Because of my years abroad, even my Mandarin has now somewhat attritted, especially when I’m trying to speak in a formal, organized manner.

When I was in 8th grade, I became really interested in foreign languages and in particular English. I was especially fascinated by how trying to think like a native speaker of a foreign language seemed to change the way I think. At college I first pursued math and physics, but by chance I took a philosophy course and fell in love with the process of carefully drawing out and accurately articulating the thoughts in my head, so I decided to transfer to Rutgers to study philosophy. I didn’t have any idea what exactly I wanted to study in philosophy, but by chance again I took a philosophy of language and later a syntax class, and subsequently became fascinated with linguistics. I went on to study linguistics in Boston University for my master’s degree, where I focused my study on definite descriptions and names (including nicknames) cross-linguistically. Besides these two topics, I have also dabbled in degree abstractions across languages and the denotation of roots under the framework of Distributed Morphology.

I don’t have many good recent pictures of myself, so here is baby me.

Outside of linguistics, I’m also a very amateur painter and a big fan of the manga One Piece – I have a habit of reading it while I’m procrastinating from writing papers! Sometimes I have read it (and procrastinated) so much that I could recite it line-by-line and scene-by-scene; I’m not proud of it!

Ying Zhang

Hi, I am Ying Zhang. I am from Xi’an, the oldest prefecture capital in China and home to many cultural heritages. Apart from Mandarin Chinese, I also speak Guanzhong dialect at home, which prevents me from identity issues when I did my undergrads in Beijing. Interested in both languages and economics, I majored in Business English at University of International Business and Economics. But later, I realized that language is actually my thing. This motivated me to pursue further and deeper studies of linguistics at University College London. I’d like to say that my first syntax class was amazing. The structure of a sentence was elegantly displayed via trees and everything was that clear, organized and beautiful. I worked on passives in Mandarin Chinese in my master thesis and am also interested in displacement, movement and case. I am very grateful and excited to explore more stuff about syntax at Rutgers and cannot wait to meet you all!


Victoria and Albert Museum

For non-academic life, I like museums and galleries and one of my favorites is the Victoria & Albert Museum shown to the right:


I also enjoy musicals and plays. My first pick would be Hamilton. Influenced by Japanese culture, I am a big fan of anime. Naruto, Attack on Titan and etc, just name it. Besides, I love travelling and meeting new people. I am much fascinated by sea, sunset and clouds. If you happen to see someone looking up to the sky in the street, that could be me appreciating the clouds. Below are some lovely moments of my collection. Hope you would also enjoy.

The Bell Tower in Xi’an just taken this August.


Sea in Larnaka, Cyprus.
Sunset in London


Hyunjung Joo

Hi! I am Hyunjung Joo and you can call me [hjʌn.dʒjʌŋ]. My main research interests are experimental phonetics and laboratory phonology. I love to “see” waveforms and spectrograms of speech sounds as well as articulatory movements of the sounds. I enjoy doing experiments, as I can understand how the abstract sound system in our brain leads to the movement of our articulators, creating sound waves as output.

I was born and raised in Ulsan, which is located in the southern part of South Korea, and I spent several years in Seoul, South Korea, for my BA at Chung-Ang University and my MA at Hanyang University. The different intonational patterns between the two dialects, South Kyungsang Korean and Seoul Korean, led me to study more about prosodic patterns of languages. For my MA thesis, I examined how the tonal pattern is aligned with articulatory gestures in South Kyungsang Korean. At Rutgers, I aspire to further explore about the relationship between intonation and grammar in general and prosody production and perception in particular!


Outside of my academic life, I enjoy swimming and running. Before COVID, I was trying to improve my butterfly stroke and was used to running along the Han River in Seoul. I hope I can keep practicing swimming and running if possible. Also, I really enjoy live music at concerts with a large number of fans. Personally I believe that nothing beats the excitement of having the audience singing together. After COVID, I wish for nothing more than to go to a concert and experience the excitement once again!


Marjorie Leduc

Hi. I’m Marjorie. I am originating from the South of Québec, in a small town rural town of the province. I completed my undergrad in Montréal, where I discovered Linguistics through sheer coincidence. This ended up being a defining moment of my life, as my decision to major in Linguistics led me to pursue graduate studies. I completed my Masters at the University of Toronto before coming here, at Rutgers, for my PhD studies. 

My research interests pertain to phonology and mathematics. In phonology, I want to understand issues related to iterativity and directionality in ATR-harmony patterns. Mathematically, I aim to better connect mathematics and logic to linguistics by using set theoretic tools to derive phonological patterns and better understand why these patterns exist.

Outside of research, I enjoy travelling and discovering new places. Specifically, I like exploring new restaurants and cuisines of the world and then attempting to remake them at home.  I am also fascinated by weather patterns, specifically pertaining to severe weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes. I like analyzing past and current storms in order to better understand how atmospheric conditions can create these terrible storms.