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Welcome to the new cohort of grad students!

Welcome to the 2023-2024 Academic Year, and welcome to our new cohort of graduate students! Our five new first-years have prepared some self-introductions for us to get to know them a bit better.

Welcome to Rutgers Linguistics!

Fahad Almalki

I go by my first name Fahad, meaning Cheetah in Arabic. I come from the very rural southwest area of Saudi Arabia. At first, I wanted to study medicine in college , but I ended up enrolling in engineering. Without that year in engineering, I would not have known about my love for learning the English language. Changing my major to studying English led me to theoretical linguistics where I found my true self again. To me, linguistics has been the light at the end of a dark tunnel and the water Bedouin finally found in the desert.

I am interested in Syntax and its interface with morphology and semantics. I work on binding from a minimalist perspective (in a sense) and how we can account for those cases of long-distance binding. I also work on agreement and Case. I approach these phenomena through my humble experience in fieldwork on endangered varieties of Arabic.

Outside of linguistics, I love spending plenty of time with my family who are everything to me. I love fishing, an activity I developed over the last year or two in the US since 2021. I also cannot wait to continue my trips to different countries all over the world. So far, I have seen 5 countries and look forward to seeing more.

Merlin Balihaxi


My name is Balihaxi Hashan in Mandarin Chinese (Balkhash KHASENOV in Kazakh) with the former part being my actual first name. However, let’s just make it simple, so the easiest way is just calling me Merlin (the greatest sorcerer ever who helped King Arthur) and the name was chosen as a nickname by my parents. I am a Chinese-born Kazakh from the northwest part of China, and I grew up in a small and peaceful town named Qinggil located in northern Xinjiang.

At the very beginning, I was an undergraduate of Mechanics in Fudan University (Shanghai) but I unfortunately found that I would like to be occupied by more human-related stuff. That’s when I decided to transfer to the Sociology Department of Fudan and I spent the whole period of undergraduate thinking why there is sociolinguistics as a subfield of Linguistics but never “SOCIOLOGY OF LANGUAGE” in Sociology. After a while, I happened to find that we could actually do languages in a “scientific” way, and I transferred again to continue my Master study in the English Department of Fudan as a Linguistics student. Not until very late did I start doing Linguistics, but I do fancy working on any language.

Apart from trying to be an authentic linguist, you would probably find me singing all the time. I have taken some roles in some stages of musical act at Fudan Musical Club. By the way, I’m really into any sort of sounds like musical tones, Jerry’s grin, habitual nasal voicing of Thais speaking Chinese. They are all huge fun to me…

Quartz Colvin

Hi, I’m Quartz! Originally from northwest Arkansas, I was raised back and forth between my dad’s big family in rural Arkansas and my mom’s big family in rural Wisconsin. I first learned about linguistics in my high school AP human geography class and I have been set on that ever since! For undergrad, I went to the University of Minnesota and sped through a BA in Global Studies and Linguistics. After that, I moved to DC to attend a master’s program in linguistics at Georgetown University. Thankfully I did not have to move across the country again and I moved here to New Jersey for my PhD!

My main research interests include the morphosyntax of Algonquian languages and language documentation. My interest in Algonquian started in undergrad when we worked with a Southwest Ojibwe speaker in a field methods class. Since then, I have continued to write class papers about that variety of Ojibwe, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. Informally I have been looking around the language family to map out how their verbal morphology differs from each other. I have not done any more talking with speakers, unfortunately, but I hope to do that again soon!

Outside of school, I take care of several small animals. I have three pet rats (Gouda, Falafel, and Soup), a leopard gecko (Chronos), two chubby frogs (Castor and Pollux), and an American green tree frog (Echidna). I also try to go to concerts as often as I can, go on walks, and hang out with my friends in other states via Discord.

(Soup is the white rat and Gouda is the blondie)

Tetsu Nomaguchi

Hi, my name is Tetsu. I was born and raised in Saitama, Japan, which is located right north of Tokyo. Before coming here, I completed my Masters at Chiba university and spent a few years at Aoyama Gakuin university as a PhD student after that. Since I received my BA from Dokkyo university, Rutgers is the fourth university for me. (Actually, it’s fifth because I have studied at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee for one year as an exchange student)

My BA thesis is about quantifier scope and MA thesis is about Chomsky’s labeling algorithm. As you can see, my research interests are syntax, semantics, and their interface. Specific topics include particles, agreement, NPIs, comparative constructions, and so on. As well as exploring what I’ve been interested in, I came here to start something new such as fieldwork, mathematical linguistics, or philosophy. Although I cannot even imagine what my knowledge would look like after five years, I’m really excited about starting a new journey here at Rutgers.

Besides linguistics, I like music, soccer, and to travel abroad

Utku Zobarlar

Hello, my name is Utku Zobarlar. I am from the Thracia region of Turkey which is about an hour away from Bulgaria and Greece. My journey to linguistics began with the first introductory undergraduate course I took at Boğaziçi University. Even though my major was TESOL, I was fascinated by the linguistics course, especially phonetics and phonology. Another turning point in my undergraduate years was the Erasmus+ student exchange program which made it possible for me to go to Germany and practice my German with native speakers. Besides the fact that I did nothing but partying and getting drunk in Germany, I realized that I wanted to pursue a career abroad. Therefore, I applied to MA programs in the US, and I got accepted to Syracuse University.

It was such a privilege to be able to attend in-person courses during pandemic and teaching an introductory linguistics course at the same time. The best part of my MA days at SU was the recitations I taught, and I still miss it. At SU, I did a double concentration in Linguistics Theory and Natural Language Processing. I have a little background in Python and some NLP applications. My main research interests were Phonology and Morphology of Turkic languages and irregularities in Modern Turkish. Therefore, I wrote my thesis on mid-vowel alternation and aorist irregularity in Modern Standard Turkish. During my studies and research at SU, I learned a lot from my mentor and big brother Chris Green and, I am honored to be able to take classes from Prof. Jaklin Kornfilt.

Here at Rutgers, I would like to continue my research on Turkic Phonology and Morphology and their irregularities because I believe that irregularities in languages can play an important role in understanding how they are learned and stored in the lexicon. I am also extremely eager to teach a course at Rutgers.

Apart from linguistics, I am a retired gamer who has over 4.000 hours in DOTA 2 and over 5.000 hours in CS:GO and CS 1.6 which led me to become a very competitive person. I was part of the gaming club in my undergrad, so, I am familiar with many boardgames and FRPs as well. I also play electric guitar and recently I’ve been learning to make electronic music combining House and EDM beats with guitar riffs and solos I write.