Tzu-Yun Tung

Growing up in Taiwan, “a small tropical island with great linguistic diversity”, graduate student Tzu-Yun Tung learned Mandarin, Taiwanese, English, and Japanese at an early age. Tzu-Yun quickly found great joy in learning and being surrounded by languages, but it was not until her undergraduate studies that she was formally introduced to Linguistics. Upon taking an “Introduction to Linguistics” course she became fascinated by how rigorously language could be studied as science. According to Tzu-Yun, the study of Linguistics is important because “language provides us with a unique window to understand how the human mind and brain work; a key to understanding what makes us human.”

In her research, Tzu-Yun is interested in understanding the psychological and neurological mechanisms that make communication successful. When she began searching for a Ph.D. program, Tzu-Yun knew she wanted to join a department with a strong background in psycho/neurolinguistics, so she chose to attend U-M. Tzu-Yun is excited to work with her current advisor, Dr. Jonathan Brennan, given his expertise in theoretical linguistics and his use of both experimental methods and computational modeling, something she describes as “a dream combination not commonly found everywhere else.”

During her time at U-M, Tzu-Yun has been researching the role of memory and prediction in how people understand one another on a daily basis, “like what you’re doing now reading this sentence” she explains. Tzu-Yun’s work has been published in journals such as Neurobiology of Language, the International Journal of Computational Linguistics, and Chinese Language Processing. She also regularly presents her research at conferences such as the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language (SNL), the Annual Conference on Human Sentence Processing (HSP), and Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLaP).

Given Tzu-Yun’s impressive work and accomplishments, it comes as no surprise that she has received various recognitions during her PhD career. Tzu-Yun has been awarded the Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship, the Rackham Chia-Lun Lo Fellowship, in addition to Rackham Graduate Student Research and Conference Travel Grants to support her graduate studies at U-M. In the Fall of 2022, Tzu-Yun was invited as a speaker of the U-M Linguistics Graduate Student Colloquium and the U-M Cognitive Science Seminar Series. In addition to her research, Tzu-Yun has proven to be an experienced instructor and has served as the main instructor for “Language and Human Mind”, an interdisciplinary Linguistics and Cognitive Science undergraduate course.

Tzu-Yun’s curiosity extends beyond linguistics. During her free time she enjoys traveling, tasting new desserts in local coffee shops, and even making her own bubble tea drinks. Once she is done with her PhD, Tzu-Yun looks forward to finding even more research opportunities that will build on and enhance the skill sets she has acquired during graduate school.