Narendra Kumar is an Assistant Professor at The Institute of Technology Gopeshwar, Uttarakhand (India). He teaches Technical Communication. He is also enrolled as a PhD student at The Language and Cognition Lab, Indian Institute of Technology Ropar (India). He obtained his M.A degree in Linguistics from Banaras Hindu University Varanasi (India). Kumar’s research work focuses on the Neurophysiological correlates of semantic prediction during language comprehension.
How did you get into your field and what is your research story?
The question ‘how the human brain knows, what it knows?’ has always intrigued me. Here when I say the term ‘know’, I specifically mean ‘information’, not in the sense of knowledge as a whole in human beings. It is quite apparent that the prime carrier of information is natural language. In our everyday life, we comprehend a sentence so easily and smoothly that no one questions how the human brain processes various linguistic information viz. phonological morphological, syntactic, semantic, pragmatic etc. of every word in milliseconds. I started my PhD in 2013 to explore similar questions on the basis of electrophysiological (Event-Related Potentials) evidence from Hindi, a split-ergative and verb-final language. My research is focused on investigating the processing of semantic information during on-line language comprehension of Hindi sentences. The neurophysiological studies on processing syntactic information in typologically different languages have exhibited substantial differences. So, my research work aims to explore if the processing of semantic information also exhibits neurophysiological differences cross-linguistically.
Where do you do your research/work the best? What kind of environment suits you?
I love to work in the lab or the library. I need a peaceful environment to work dedicatedly. Indeed, I enjoy working in a creative and challenging environment where I can push myself beyond the comfort zone to learn new things.
How long have you been on Mendeley?
I have been using Mendeley since October 2014. I learnt about Mendeley when I was learning inserting Bibliography in LaTeX from the youtube channel of Chandra Has.
What were you using prior to Mendeley and how does Mendeley influence your research?
In the first year of my PhD, I used Endnote but didn’t feel comfortable using it, within few months I came across Mendeley. After using Mendeley once, I realized it was a one-stop solution to organize every research activity. Infact, Mendeley saved a lot of time which I used to waste in renaming and keeping PDF files in different directories according to their use. Mendeley organizes all these PDF files in a library format and helps to retrieve them easily. Apart from citation and reference writing, I use Mendeley as a tool for reading as its PDF viewer allows me to highlight texts, adding notes and tags which has helped me keeping notes organized in the article itself. Moreover, I love two other features of Mendeley the most, they are Mendeley Web Plugin and the suggestion of article based on the documents in my library.
Why did you decide to become an Advisor and how are you involved with the program?
I believe in the philosophy of sharing and spreading of knowledge and information, as mentioned in the following Sanskrit shlok (couplet):
अपूर्व: कोऽपि कोशोऽयं विद्यते तव भारति !
व्ययतो वृद्धिमायाति क्षयमायाति सञ्चयात् ॥ (सुभाषितानि)
[Translation: O Bharati (Goddess of learning)! This indescribable treasure of yours is unique – by expending it grows and by hoarding it diminishes! – Subhashitani (Sanskrit: dated back 5000BC)]
Once realised Mendeleys importance for a research student, I started sharing its features with my PhD pursuing friends. Within a few months of joining Mendeley, I attended a Mendeley event in a nearby institute and as a result decided to become an advisor to organize workshops myself. I have organized a number of workshops in my institute and nearby institutes.
What researcher would you like to work with or meet, dead or alive?
In today’s world every linguist has a dream to meet Noam Chomsky at least once. He is a living legend as the “father of modern linguistics” and one of the “makers of twentieth century” (London Times 1970). In addition, I would like to meet Steven Pinker (Harvard University), Marta Kutas (University of California-SD), Angela Friederici (MPI, Leipzig), Peter Hagoort (MPI, Nijmegen), David Poeppel (NYU) and Ray Jackendoff (Tufts University) whose works have contributed a lot to the discussion of language, mind and brain.
What book are you reading at the moment and why?
These days I am reading two books Neurosemantics (2016) by Plebe & Cruz and Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned this week?
This week, I reviewed research articles based on the prediction approach of language comprehension. Prediction is one of the essential attribute of language comprehension system, yet researchers do not agree on what prediction is or what constitutes evidence for it.
What is the best part about working in research?
As a researcher, I have started believing in the philosophy of Albert Einstein: “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” What I like the most about working in research is that one can enjoy his/her whole life as a student/learner where there is always something new to learn and new problems to solve.
And the worst/most challenging part about working in research?
The most frustrating thing for a researcher is when you do not get the results as expected after spending months/years on a problem. In such case also, supervisors/PIs don’t look at your hard work/labour, instead they start criticizing your potentials and working styles.
What is the one thing you want people to know about Mendeley?
Mendeley is the best on-stop solution for all research activities. Every academician/researcher should use Mendeley as it makes the life of a researcher organized and smooth.
Biography in Brief
Narendra Kumar is an Assistant Professor at Institute of Technology Gopeshwar, Uttarakhand (India). He teaches Technical Communication to the students of B.Tech. Along with he is also enrolled as a PhD student at Language and Cognition Lab, Indian Institute of Technology Ropar (India). He obtained his M.A degree in Linguistics from Banaras Hindu University Varanasi (India). Kumar’s research work focuses on the Neurophysiological correlates of semantic prediction during language comprehension.