Frequently Asked Questions

How can I join your lab?

Are you a CSU graduate student already? Great! Feel free to reach out via the contact page!

Otherwise, the first step is to apply to our department. In your application and statement of purpose, you can indicate your interest in working with me specifically. Admitted students are welcome to reach out to let me know of their interest.

If I'm admitted, what are my chances of getting a spot in your lab?

Honestly, I don't know. I am regularly pursuing funding to support new students, so please watch the blog as well as signallab.ai for announcements of new funding and recruiting. Space in the SIGNAL Lab is limited due to high demand and depends on a number of factors, such as available funding, time, resources, and establishing a positive working relationship, which is why... (see below)

What are your expectations for new students?

Typically I ask new students to work with me for a semester before committing to a formal advising relationship with funding. This allows us to establish a mutual area of interest and to be sure we work well together. To be considered for formal advising, a successful student will demonstrate themselves to be a team player and should expect to make a significant contribution to either a submitted paper or grant proposal during the trial semester.

Do you work with undergrads?

I'm open to it. If you are a CSU undergrad interested in part-time research work, feel free to reach out. The usual caveats apply (resources, funding, your background, etc.).

What skills do I need to have to work in your lab?

Having strong technical skills in the standard machine learning frameworks is always good (TensorFlow, Keras, Pytorch), and comfort with Git is critical. The best students are those who both have a facility with machine learning and can handle building actual functional systems. Other skills or interests that make me sit up and pay attention are:

  • Unity Game Engine
  • Software engineering
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Robotics/Robot Operating System (ROS)
  • Virtual/augmented reality
  • Linguistics (esp. semantics, syntax, historical)
  • Statistical analysis
  • Good writing abilities

What makes a prospective student stand out?

The most important thing is to have an idea of the kinds of problems that excite you and that you want to work on. But what excites you and why am I the right person to help you develop those ideas?

Another thing is to have a well-organized portfolio. Webpages are good. Sending me your GitHub profile is good too, but I don't have time to actually run your code to see what you can do. Therefore, if you organize your profile and clearly explain your projects (use pictures!) that will give me a much easier time evaluating your work.

I want to study computer vision. Can I work with you?

While I use computer vision techniques, it's mostly as tools in larger pipelines for other problems (mostly language and reasoning). If that sounds like what you're into, I might be your guy. Computer vision itself is not my primary area of focus. May I recommend my colleague Nate Blanchard instead?

I'm enthusiastic about machine learning. Can I work with you?

Machine learning is glorified curve fitting. Are you really enthusiastic about fitting lines to points?

What is it that you want to use machine learning for? If you have a compelling answer to that, we'll fit much better together.

Are you on the admissions committee?

Not this term.

I emailed you and you never responded!

Me: Did you use the contact form?

You: No, I cold emailed your @colostate.edu address.

Me: Use the contact form.

You: I used the contact form!

Me: Did you follow all the instructions on the contact form?

You: No, I just entered my message and hit "Send."

Me: Then you must have a very compelling reason why I should respond to someone who can't follow basic instructions. Read and follow the instructions on the contact form.

You: I did all that!

Me: Then I'm very sorry! First check your spam folder, just in case. But if that's not the culprit, feel free to reach out again. I try to reply to all genuine inquiries but sometimes a few do slip through the cracks. Send me a reminder; I don't mind!

I have a different question.

Ask away!