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Meet Our New Grad Students!

Four new students will be joining us this fall! They’ve each contributed a little bit about themselves and their interests, so please continue reading for a closer look at the new members of our department.


To our first years: Welcome!


Natasha Chemey

Hi! I’m Natasha, and you pronounce my full name [nəˈtʰaʃəˌkʰɛmi], modulo nasal vowels (which I’m not great at identifying). I was born and raised in a small town close to Fort Wayne, Indiana, surrounded by corn and soybean fields on every corner practically. Central and northern Indiana are heavily part of farm country, but I was still exposed to lots of different languages (thanks, Mom!) through choirs, books, and movies. I went to high school at the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities (look it up! It’s a Weird™ high school); my first linguistics class was taught there.

Plane flying over a coast line

At Michigan State University, I majored in Linguistics, German, and Mathematics, minored in French, and in May, got 2 BA’s (one in Linguistics, and the other in Mathematics). You might say I was busy. (I was, very much so.) There, I started out with research in Language Acquisition, but I discovered pretty early on that I like the behind the scenes work of experiments (planning and data analysis) well enough, but I prefer theoretical puzzles, especially in Syntax and Semantics. My research thus far has dealt with Case, Argument Structure and Lexical Semantics, Speaker/Addressee, Syntax-Semantics Interface. I’m also starting to get interested in Mathematical Linguistics due to some classes from MSU which I think show some promise. Right now though, I’m focusing on a project about the “have got” possessive construction that I’ve been developing for about a year.

Baked bread with a slice missing

Outside of the classroom, I enjoy singing in choirs, reading books, tweeting (@NChemey), watching Star Trek and M*A*S*H, baking bread and treats (of the glutenous and non-glutenous variety), and riding my bike. I sang with the Heartland Chamber Chorale in Fort Wayne for their Brahms Requiem this summer, and I had a blast! When I have the money and the time, I also like to travel, and this summer I went to Germany (to see family), Greece (for CreteLing), and Israel (because why not?) on the remainder of my scholarship from undergrad. Theater (straight plays or musicals) is a personal fave, so hit me up if you’d like to see a play anywhere. I’ve been super excited to come back to Rutgers ever since I visited, and I can’t wait to get to know everyone better!


Ziling Zhu
It’s great to meet everyone in Rutgers Linguistics here! I am …


A formal-semanticist-to-be.

Apart from my pure interest in the mission and methodology of this discipline, I’m motivated by the possibility that I may understand (part of) the world better by working on languages and their meaning. In the branch of formal semantics, questions particularly interest me. Meanwhile, mathematics, logic and computer science are the fields I want (and feel obliged) to delve into.

A Chinese-linguist-to-be.

Ziling wearing a beaver hat in a store

Hopefully, with my future expertise, I can achieve my goal of introducing excellent linguistic theories into the studies of Chinese linguistics. Since various dialects are spoken in my home, I’m curious about how they are different in terms of form and meaning. After all, the most efficient way to preserve dialects is to use and study them more.

A literature lover.

My favorites include Milan Kundera, Garcia Marquez, and Lu Xun. It’s amazing that these writers have taught me philosophy, politics, and history. Besides contemporary and modern writers, I also came across some ancient Chinese literature texts, during my minor studies in the Chinese department. Sometimes I also write my own short pieces, so please let me know if you have the same hobby (or more exactly – the urge to write something out)!

A popular culture fan.

Despite the serious criticism by the cultural critics, I believe that the popular culture is entering the public realm as a means of communication. I like Lana Del Rey, TV shows (especially sitcoms), cute collection games, postcard collection, and fashionable uses of languages (e.g. memes on the internet).

I can’t wait to join the community and start my journey in New Brunswick. Hope to meet everyone in our cozy linguistics building in the near future!

A classroom full of students watching something on a projected screen


Indira Das

Hello, I am Indira. I’m from a small industrial town called Burnpur, in West Bengal, India. All of my education was in Kolkata and I chanced upon Linguistics around the end of my undergrad studies. And there has been no looking back since. I have been working on some Morphosyntax and Typology so far in Odia (my mother tongue) and Mundari – which is an indigenous Austro-Asiatic language with really interesting features. So far I’ve worked on the case system and the argument structure of complex predicates. There’s so much more to know and I am really excited to begin the next part of my academic journey here at Rutgers.

A bridge in Kolkata

In my free time, I find out new music on YouTube and keep updating my playlist. I also love exploring different kinds of food and I do enjoy cooking a lot. I’m limited to Indian cuisine for now but I’m hoping to diversify with time!

The photo is of my favorite place in Kolkata, Prinsep Ghat. If you ever visit Kolkata, find some time to take a boat ride here. It’s really pretty and calming.



Tatevik Yolyan

I was born in Yerevan Armenia, grew up in Los Angeles, and spent the last couple of years in Amsterdam. I have become a bit of a hermit crab, so I am looking forward to moving to a new city once again. I consider myself lucky to have been able to call different corners of the world “home” and to be a part of such culturally and linguistically diverse environments.

I received my undergraduate degree in mathematics and moved to Amsterdam to study logic at the ILLC. Though I have spent my life surrounded by many different languages, it was actually math that led me to an interest in linguistics. My research interests are grounded in connecting mathematics and logic with linguistics and cognitive science. I want to use formal tools from logic to study structures in natural languages and understand why such structures exist. Rutgers is an excellent place to pursue these interests and I am beyond grateful to be joining the department.

Tatevik standing in front of a large statue of a sitting man and a standing person

Tatevik sitting in a library