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CICS PhD Candidates Ankita Gupta and Lijun Zhang Receive 2023 IBM PhD Fellowship

Ankita Gupta and Lijun Zhang

IBM has named Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) PhD Candidates Ankita Gupta and Lijun Zhang as awardees of the 2023 IBM PhD Fellowship

The 2023 IBM PhD Fellowship Award Program received hundreds of applications from 59 universities in 14 countries. Recipients demonstrated expertise in pioneering research areas such as artificial intelligence, hybrid cloud, security, quantum computing, and responsible and inclusive technology. Gupta and Zhang were two of 10 award recipients selected for the 2023 cohort. 

Gupta completed her Bachelor of Technology at Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur in 2014, graduating with a gold medal, an accolade given to the student with the highest GPA in their department. In 2017, she obtained her Master of Engineering in Machine Learning with distinction at the Indian Institute of Science. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies in 2021, Gupta worked as an applied scientist at Amazon's India Machine Learning Team and lead engineer at Samsung Research Institute Bangalore. She also served as a research intern for IBM during the summers of 2022 and 2023, where she worked on methods to improve conversational AI systems. 

At UMass Amherst, Gupta is a doctoral student in the Statistical Social Language Analysis (SLANG) Lab, advised by Assoicate Professor Brendan O'Connor. Her research is at the intersection of natural language processing and computational social science. Gupta is interested in developing computational methods to infer beliefs, identify corresponding belief holders from real-world text data, and the latent structure among those beliefs, such as argumentative relations. "Inferring such belief structures can further help identify conflicts between coherent belief communities, paving the way to understand contemporary social phenomena such as political polarization and echo chambers," she says. 

"Words cannot express how excited I am to receive this fellowship award," Gupta reflects. "Being an IBM fellowship awardee is not only an honor, but also a motivation for me. It encourages me to keep pursuing interdisciplinary research and explore innovative computational approaches to deepen our understanding of various social phenomena." 

Zhang's research interests explore automated machine learning and computer vision, with a focus on efficient multi-task learning--specifically, automatically developing multi-task models that achieve high task accuracy, small memory footprint, and low computation cost simultaneously for vision tasks. Her research will observe the rapid development of generative AI in computer vision by engaging with diffusion models as a special case of multi-task learning. "I'm particularly excited about investigating how the philosophy of multi-task learning and the power of stable diffusion models could facilitate each other," she says. 
Zhang began her doctoral studies in 2019, advised by Assistant Professor Hui Guan, after completing her master's and bachelor's degrees at the School of Software Engineering of Tongji University in 2016 and 2019, respectively. In 2023, she interned as an applied scientist for. Amazon; this summer, Zhang looks forward to joining the Advanced Technology Group at Dolby Laboratories as a PhD research intern. 

"Receiving the IBM PhD fellowship is an honor and a milestone in my academic journey," says Zhang. "This recognition not only validates my past research efforts, but also fuels my passion for future advancement. It provides me with the resources and support to further my investigations. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity." 

For more information about the award and the complete list of recipients, visit https://research.ibm.com/university/awards/fellowships-awardees.html