Following completion of his PhD in Linguistics with a minor in Cognitive Science from Cornell University in August 2014, Zhong Chen started his job as Assistant Professor of Chinese in the MLC department, where he also coordinates the Chinese language program. Before coming to RIT, he has also studied or worked at Michigan State University, Beloit College, and Nanjing Normal University, China.
Zhong Chen’s teaching experience includes Introduction to Cognitive Science, Introduction to Syntax and Semantics, as well as Beginning and Intermediate levels of Chinese during regular semesters and in summer intensive programs. His research focuses primarily on investigating how people understand sentences in real-time. His work often tackles this research problem from the cross-linguistic perspective by comparing the same linguistic phenomenon in different languages, including Chinese, English, Italian, Japanese, and Korean. Trained as a computational psycholinguist, he employs both experimental approaches, such as self-paced reading and eye-tracking, and computational modeling to the study of sentence comprehension. He strongly believes that human cognition is essentially a form of computation. To this end, computational models can be built to mirror the cognitive mechanism of sentence processing when fine-grained probabilistic knowledge of language is available.
Zhong Chen’s recent publications highlighted his research efforts in Chinese linguistics. In particular, he has been working extensively in studying the reading difficulty caused by Chinese relative clauses, reflexives, and wh-words, with a goal to contribute to the linguistic field by providing evidence to sentence processing theories. In addition, he is also interested in first language acquisition, namely how a young child naturally masters his/her native language even without sufficient input. As a father of a two-year-old girl, Zhong Chen has always been excited to witness how his bilingual daughter handles both Chinese and English with one little brain.