Meet Our New Grad Students

We would like to thank our new grad students for sharing the information below with us. We wanted to know about their research interests, why they chose Rutgers, their feelings about moving to Rutgers, expectations, anything about their country, city, life, and any secrets that we shouldn’t tell anyone. We greatly appreciate their contribution.

Eileen Blum
Eileen2I grew up in the San Francisco bay area, CA. My grandfather was a linguist during WWII and studied Russian. I am the first person in my family to also find an interest in linguistics. I have wanted to study linguistics since high school and I finally got an introduction when I transferred to UC Santa Cruz to finish my bachelor’s degree. That program showed me that I enjoy academic research and am interested in Phonology and Irish. I am excited to be moving to the east coast where I will experience seasonal weather for the first time and continue to learn more about the Irish language and phonology in general.

EileenPhysical activity  and the outdoors has always been an important part of my life. I fell in love with horses when I was eight years old and I began learning to ride and training to compete at 12. Before I moved to Santa Cruz I rode, trained, and competed with thoroughbreds (off the racetrack) in the hunter/jumper discipline for about 10 years. This past year I have been riding a retired endurance horse throughout the hills surrounding the east bay. I will miss riding and showing every day.

However, this year I have picked up another sport: medieval armored combat. I have brought my armor with me and plan to continue learning about and training in this sport on the east coast.



Lydia Newkirk

I grew up mostly in rural Kansas (except for a few years spent in Tanzania), and studied Linguistics and Italian at the University of Kansas. There I developed research interests in Semantics, Syntax, and West African Languages. I’m very excited to come to Rutgers and expand my knowledge, particularly in the realms of generative syntax and semantics.

In my free time I enjoy playing piano (though I’m mediocre at best), exploring nature, and watersports. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and sharing my passion for linguistics!





Ang Li

Ang1I was born in a beautiful county located at the foot of the Yellow Mountain – yet I have never been on the mountain myself. I lived my entire childhood over there, although the memory has faded away, I’m pretty sure that’s the origin of a large part of my personality. 

People in my hometown – which was called ‘Huizhou’ – had a reputation of leaving home. Just like the old generations I moved a lot of times in my short life, and I love all kinds of road trips. In fact, spending too much time on cycling during college years could be the reason I didn’t get to Rutgers sooner.



Ang2But that was not true. The linguistic program of Rutgers loomed in my mind while I was doing my master in the UK, when I got serious about proceeding to do a Ph.D. in this field. My major interests are in syntax theory, and I’m hoping to broaden it to the syntax-semantic interface. USA is undoubtedly on the leading edge when it comes to generative syntax and semantic theories; plus, doing a PhD in the states takes more time than in the Europe, which time I thought I really need to get ready. My teacher in Newcastle strongly recommended Rutgers. I also did my research, finding that some researchers I used to follow are working here. It felt like the right fit, and I’m lucky to finally be here.



Hazel Mitchley

Hi, I’m Hazel. I’m from South Africa, but my mother tongue is boring old English. I do, however, speak some Afrikaans, albeit with a terrible accent. Unfortunately I don’t have any real degree of fluency in any of the other South African languages, but these are actually the languages which fascinate me most. My MA thesis focussed on agreement in three Southern Bantu languages: Sesotho, isiXhosa, and Xitsonga.

It was my interest in the syntax of African languages which lead me to apply to Rutgers, and the final choice to come here was influenced, in part, by the wonderful sense of community that this department seems to have. I will admit to being a bit nervous about the move to the US, as it’s the biggest life change that I’ve made thus far. I’m also excited though, it’s a great opportunity for me to challenge myself in so many ways, and to broaden my worldview.

robot earringsSusieA bit of miscellaneous information about me: I collect quirky earrings, my sense of humour ranges from the dry to the absurd to the most terrible puns (I apologize for that in advance), and if I were forced to choose one meal to have for supper every night for the rest of my life, I’m pretty sure it would be cheese and wine.  I think that having flowers in the house for no reason whatsoever is underrated, I have a tail-less cat back home who I adore, and if anyone makes the mistake of asking me about the pet lion/elephant that I, being from Africa, must naturally keep in my back yard, I take more pleasure than I should from winding them up with ridiculously tall tales. I did once visit a game reserve, though, where I was allowed to pet the elephants and the cheetahs, and that experience was the highlight of the year for me.