FAQ

Advising and Admissions

Current NYU Students

If you're working on a PhD and are interested in collaborating or seeking an advisor, contact me.

I only rarely agree to supervise undergraduate or master's students, and I only recruit students who have an A in an NYU NLP or computational linguistics course or have published research in my area. If that's you, send me an email with a CV, a transcript, and a couple of sentences about your plans and research interests.

If your goal is to get started with independent research in NLP, you should take NLU (DS-GA 1012) or MLLU (LING-UA 52) as soon as you can. I designed both courses to walk you through your first major NLP research project and the prerequisites and the non-project-related assignments in these courses are relatively light.

Prospective Graduate Students

I can advise graduate students in the Department of Linguistics (PhD), the Center for Data Science (MS, PhD), and the Department of Computer Science at Courant (MS, PhD). If you have specific questions about my group that you'd like to discuss before you apply, feel free to write to me. (Writing to just express interest doesn't help your application, though.) As above, if you're applying for an MS, I won't commit to supervising you as a research student until after you've taken coursework in NLP at NYU.

I'll be on sabbatical for 2021–22, but I expect to be accepting PhD students for Fall 2023. I'm especially interested in applicants who have a background language model truthfulness/alignment/safety, and I can coadvise applicants who want to do work involving NLP and computational linguistics or crowdsourcing and human feedback. If your background or interests don't look like what I'm describing, we probably won't a good fit this year. In particular, I'm not likely to admit students whose primary interests are in BERTology, cross-lingual transfer, or grammar induction, even though I've worked on those areas in the past. That said, get in touch if you have an argument for why you're set up to do very high impact work, and for why I'm the right person to help you do it.

I can't hold interviews or admissions-related meetings with prospective students until after we have received and reviewed everyone's applications. I never hold interviews with MS or undergraduate applicants.

At the PhD level, the Linguistics program offers students a full five-year fellowship, while funding for CS and Data Science students, though guaranteed, often comes through grants for research on specific areas, which flow through advisors. This leads to somewhat different expectations for admission. Linguistics will admit students without a close fit to an advisor, so it's important that the applicant already be quite independent and have a good fit to the department overall. In CS and Data Science, fit to the department is less important, but it's crucial for applicants to name specific potential advisors and to demonstrate (i.e., through reference letters and published/publishable written work) that they're ready to work on problems that those advisors are likely to be interested in (and able to write grants for). Admission criteria for all three programs are similar, so you should apply to whichever best fits your record and your interests, though if you're undecided between CS and Data Science, go for Data Science. For students broadly interested in cognitive science, this page offers some useful information about the available programs at NYU.

Under NYU Arts and Science rules, you can't apply to more than one of these programs in the same year.

Prospective Postdocs, Staff, and Visitors

A postdoc position is currently (as of early 2023) open here.

If you'd be interested in working with me as a staff researcher, get in touch. I can sometimes make positions available when there's a good fit, though I can't promise to reply to every inquiry.

I'm able to host visiting students and faculty, but only those who have published work on a research topic that's narrowly of interest to the lab. Get in touch if you're interested, though I can't promise to reply to every inquiry..

Research

Variational Autoencoders

My paper on this topic with Luke Vilnis was done during a Google internship, and we were not able to take any code or data with us at the end of the internship. If you need help applying VAE language models in new areas, my coauthor Luke has some notes that we are allowed to share, but your best bet is to look at any of the many good papers on the topic that have come out since ours.