USC Fellows Chaoyang He and Ninareh Mehrabi
Chaoyang He (left) and Ninareh Mehrabi have been selected as the first two PhD fellows of the USC+Amazon Center on Secure and Trusted Machine Learning. He's PhD dissertation focuses on federated learning and large-scale distributed machine learning; Mehrabi's dissertation focuses on fairness in machine learning.
Credit: USC

USC + Amazon Center on Secure and Trusted Machine Learning selects two PhD fellows

Chaoyang He and Ninareh Mehrabi will focus on federated learning, distributed machine learning and fairness in machine learning.

The USC + Amazon Center on Secure and Trusted Machine Learning, established in January 2021 to support fundamental research and development of new approaches to machine learning (ML) privacy, security, and trustworthiness, today announced it has selected two PhD students as Amazon ML Fellows for 2021-2022.

Amazon ML fellowships provide a unique opportunity to recognize our most talented students and further pave the way for their future success.
Salman Avestimehr

“We have many exceptional PhD students joining the Viterbi school of engineering each year,” said Salman Avestimehr, the inaugural director of the USC+Amazon Center, a Dean’s Professor of electrical and computer engineering, and computer science at USC, and an Amazon Scholar.

“Amazon ML fellowships provide a unique opportunity to recognize our most talented students and further pave the way for their future success," Avestimehr added. "For its first year, we received an excellent pool of nominations across the school of engineering, and are excited to have selected our two PhD students as 2021-2022 Amazon ML Fellows.”

The two ML Fellows are:

  • Chaoyang He, who currently is a third-year PhD student within the computer science  department. He is co-advised by Professors Mahdi Soltanolkotabi and Salman Avestimehr. His PhD dissertation is in the area of federated learning and large-scale distributed machine learning. “This fellowship means a lot to me. It encourages me to explore further with flexibility and trust,” said He. “I am always focused on the long term.  After getting first-hand experience in both industry and academia, I hope to have unique perspectives on research, engineering, and entrepreneurship and eventually innovate something different. This is my dream. Thanks for Amazon's generous support in this journey.”
  • Ninareh Mehrabi is currently a third-year PhD student in the ISI Department. She is advised by Aram Galstyan. Her PhD dissertation focuses on fairness in machine learning. “Being an Amazon Fellow is a huge honor,” said Mehrabi. “As a customer-centric company, Amazon cares the most about its customers and obtaining their trust through its products and services which makes it the best place for me to further my research in the trustworthy AI area.”

“Federated learning and AI fairness and transparency are foundational to a more trustworthy AI – together, they enable us to safely and securely deliver and improve experiences that our customers rely on for everyday activities,” said Prem Natarajan, vice president of Alexa AI Natural Understanding, and Amazon’s liaison to the center. “We look forward to seeing how Chaoyang and Ninareh help the tech industry expand its thinking on these topics, which are critical to the overall advancement of conversational AI.”

Yannis C. Yortsos, dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, added that the award of the first two Amazon ML Fellows is a great step in implementing and advancing the original vision of the center. “We are looking forward to their excelling under this important joint new initiative between USC Viterbi and Amazon,” he said. 

Joint research center focused on new approaches to machine learning privacy, security, and trustworthiness.

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