A Belated but Still Warm Welcome to Our New Grad Students

This fall four new grad students joined the family. Please take a look at their bios to get to know a bit more about them. Welcome!

Nathan Koser
I was born and grew up in Canton, NY, which is about an hour south of Ottawa. I went to undergraduate at SUNY Binghamton. I started in Biology, but on a whim took an intro Linguistics course to fulfill a general education requirement. What I found was surprisingly interesting, and I knew I had to know more. More courses lead to an interest in phonology, which is still the area I’m most comfortable with. 

After graduating I headed off to Korea to teach English. I was there for about 5 years. While I was there I gained the ability to speak Korean, an interest in Korean linguistics, and a wife! I was honored to be accepted at Rutgers and be given the chance to continue my linguistic studies. My interests remain in phonology, Korean linguistics, and OT. 
Hobbies of mine include playing video games (only occasionally these days), tinkering with my computer/computer stuff in general, and casually playing classical guitar and chess. Looking forward to getting to know everyone here at Rutgers!

Shiori Ikawa

I spent my childhood in a rural and tiny town in Japan, sandwiched between mountain and sea, and got my bachelor’s and master’s degree in Tokyo. So it is my first time to live abroad, and I’m excited, although with a bit of anxiety, to start my new career in a new country.

img_0536I am mainly interested in syntax-semantics interface, especially at word level. My interest extends to language acquisition and sign language, though I have not actually worked on them yet. Thus, Rutgers Linguistics program was appealing for its strength in syntax-semantics interface and also its cooperation with Cognitive Science Department.
As for my interest outside linguistics, I enjoy eating. So my free time is mostly spent in going to grocery stores and challenging new foods (I’m not really a good cook though).

Cao Yu
I grew up in Chengdu, Sichuan (contrary to many people’s expectation, my tolerance to spicy food is not even moderate). I started with Teaching Chinese as a Second Language at college and ended up with studying language for its own sake. I feel fortunate to have finally made my way to the Rutgers to carry on my journey in linguistics, with a focus on semantics and syntax-semantics interface. Surely I’d be happy to find in there any connection with my remote memory of computer science.

img_5662As time goes by, my leisure activities gradually shift from the production-oriented ones like drawing, seal cutting, and calligraphy, to perception-oriented ones like reading, music listening, and sightseeing. The artistic expressions of human spirituality, be it found in the architectures I sketched long ago or in the writings on medieval thoughts I came across last month, look equally good to me.


Christopher Oakden
Hi, I’m Chris, and I’m originally from Tucson, Arizona, which is in the Sonoran Desert. Saguaro cactus and colorful sunsets were two common images during my childhood.

My introduction into Linguistics came via an enduring interest in the languages of China. As an undergrad, I studied abroad in Nanjing, and became curious about the inner workings of the dialect spoken there. I wanted to know why tones were behaving in certain ways, and why they were systematically different from the Standard Mandarin I was learning in the classroom. Linguistics held the key to unraveling the mystery. An interest in tonal phonology and its applications in OT led me to Rutgers.
For the past few years, I have spent an increasing amount of my free time writing Chinese poetry mimicking pre-modern forms (the key word here is “mimicking,” and usually doing a poor job at it!), especially the well-known quatrains seen in the poetry of the Tang Dynasty. I like to write about themes commonly addressed in the poetic tradition (mountains, Buddhist imagery, etc.), but enjoy exploring less common themes, such as traditions of shamanism in China. It’s very challenging, but also a lot of fun!