April 19, 2022 Newsletter

April 19, 2022 Newsletter

April 19

Take a look at our April 19, 2022 Newsletter with updates from the Ken Kennedy Institute.

Meet the April Member of the Month, Dr. Guha Balakrishnan, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering. Dr. Balakrishnan is interested in the theory, practical design, and downstream applications of generative models for complex visual data. He is particularly excited by their applications to promote fairness and accountability of vision systems. Guha has also worked on a broad range of medical applications, including developing ML algorithms for medical image registration and remote vital signs measurement from video.

How do you explain your research in one sentence?
I develop machine learning models that can generate new image data, particularly for applications in medical imaging and measuring/mitigating biases of computer vision models.

What challenges do you see in your work that you didn't expect?
Modern computer vision algorithms typically contain huge numbers of parameters that need to be trained over millions of data points. As a result, industrial research labs are better equipped to achieve state-of-the-art results on many vision tasks due to their resources. This poses a challenge to academic researchers: we must find important research directions where we may make important contributions without needing enormous resources.
Read More

Machine Question Answering in the Wild

Eunsol Choi | May 9, 2022 | 4:00 - 5:00pm CST | McMurtry Auditorium in Duncan Hall

Recent large-scale language models provide dramatically improved representations of text that we can adapt easily for a wide range of tasks. Encouraged by their success, we now simulate end applications more closely, embracing world knowledge into the task definition. For example, while prior QA benchmarks provided an evidence document that contains a short answer to the question, we now expect models to generate an answer from the question alone. I will discuss new challenges that arise in these more realistic scenarios. First, models need to handle queries where the answer varies based on their temporal or geographical contexts (e.g., who is the vice president?). Second, models need to organize information to craft multi-sentence answers to address complex questions like “why do birds chirp more in the morning?”. Our results suggest that existing models struggle in both dimensions, despite their high automatic lexical match scores. In the final part of the talk, I will present preliminary work and directions for improving QA models in these challenging scenarios.
Register Here

2022 Machine Learning Boot Camp: Executives & Beginners

May 19-20, 2022 | 8:00am - 5:00pm CST | BRC at Rice University

This two-day boot camp will provide a broad introduction to Machine Learning (ML) for executives and beginners. Our goal is to give a manager or a CEO in a field such as medicine, finance, manufacturing, or energy an introduction to the essential concepts behind Machine Learning. Additionally, this boot camp is great for non-practicing beginners looking to learn. Taught by a team of Rice professors in the computational sciences, the Machine Learning Boot Camp will integrate lectures describing the basic concepts to state-of-the-art Machine Learning.

The boot camp assumes no specific prerequisites and will highlight a broad set of concepts, ranging from classical supervised (e.g., linear regression, logistic regression and decision trees) and unsupervised methods (e.g., clustering algorithms, principal components analysis) to modern machine learning approaches (e.g., different neural network architectures, min-max games and generative models, deep reinforcement learning), with numerous case studies and applications. Throughout its duration, the workshop will provide practical suggestions to executives with DOs and DON’Ts when using Machine Learning in practice.

Prerequisites: A general level of familiarity with mathematics is assumed, including college-level calculus, though those without this background will still find the boot camp a useful introduction to modern ML.

Click here to see the full 2022 curriculum.

Register Here

Spring 2022 D2K Showcase

April 20, 2022 | 5:00-7:00pm CST | Duncan Hall

Save the Date for the Spring 2022 D2K Showcase on Wednesday, April 20 at 5pm (Central Time) and celebrate the impact students are making through data science!
  • Explore D2K students’ end-of-semester projects covering a wide range of data science and AI topics including computer vision, natural language processing, deep learning applications, web scraping, time series analysis, signal processing and more.
  • Interact with Rice students from the D2K Capstone and Introduction to Data Science programs, and learn more about their projects in the poster session.
  • Vote for your favorite team as they compete for an Audience Choice award!

Location: The Showcase will be held in person at Duncan Hall, Rice University. (Map)

Event Schedule (All times are in Central Time):
  • 5:00 pm - Introduction & Presentations | McMurtry Auditorium
  • 5:30 pm - Poster Session | Martel Hall
  • 6:45 pm - Awards Ceremony | McMurtry Auditorium

All students, faculty, alumni, and friends of D2K are welcome to attend! RSVP to help us order food and receive event updates for the Showcase.

Rice Launch Challenge 2022

April 20, 2022 | 5:30-9:00pm CST | The Anderson-Clarke Center’s Hudspeth Auditorium

Join the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Lilie) and support Rice University student startups at the H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge (NRLC) Championships on Wednesday, April 20th! Six student finalists will pitch their ventures for the chance to win a share of $75,000+ in equity-free funding!


Don’t miss out on watching pitches from Rice University students, networking with entrepreneurs and innovators in Houston, and voting for your favorite venture to win the Audience Choice Award.

Attendance is open to Rice students, Rice alumni, friends of Rice, and the whole Houston entrepreneurial community!

Competition starts at 5:30PM with a reception to follow at 7PM. Seats are limited, so get your tickets while you still can!


Alfredo Costilla '22 (Innovation Fellow from Professor Xia 'Ben' Hu's DATA Lab), Daochen 'Frank' Zha '23, and Kwei-Herng 'Henry' Lai '23 are the founders of AutoEdge, an AI-powered quality assurance platform that helps small and medium manufacturers to quickly detect defects and provide clear actionable items to fix inefficiencies.

Berman Foods
Delaney Berman MBA'22 is the founder of Berman Foods, which crafts irresistible artisanal plant-based cheeses and spreads from wholesome, nutritious ingredients.

Neethu Pottackal '24 (Innovation Fellow from Professor Pulickel Ajayan’s Lab) and Aasha Zinke '24 are the founders of EpiFresh, whose healthy and sustainable protein-based coating doubles the shelf-life of fruit and vegetables, reducing waste by delaying decay as it moves from the farm to your fridge.

David Akpakwu '23 and Chinedum Peter Ezeakacha '23 are the founders of GradGenius, designed to give the end-user a one-stop-shop experience to selecting schools based on personal interests.

Stephanie Pons '22, Kurt Reece '22, Ryan Jensen '22 are the founders of Guildata, which provides global health organizations with data that shows the greatest return on investment, by reduction in morbidity and mortality, for public health interventions in a non-disease centric approach.

Helix Earth Technologies
Rawand Rasheed '23 (Innovation Fellow from Professor Daniel Preston’s Lab) is the founder of Helix Earth Technologies, helping save our planet by helping power plant operators reduce their plant water use and subsequently reducing their overall operating costs.

10th Eubank Conference on Real World Markets

April 25, 2022 | 8:30am CST | McMurtry Auditorium, Duncan Hall

On April 25, 10th Eubank Conference on Real World Markets will celebrate 20 years of research and education since the founding of the Center for Computational Finance and Economic Systems (CoFES).

The theme of this year’s conference is Frontiers of Quantitative Finance. Join us at this historical event, which will feature an amazing line-up of guest speakers and Rice alumni who are architects of the field, leaders in navigating the forces that shape financial markets, and innovators in using methods from the digital era to move the frontier forward.

The conference will primarily be an in-person event with some virtual lectures transmitted through a Zoom meeting. Virtual operations will be managed from Rice’s McMurtry Auditorium.

Due to the generosity of our benefactors and sponsors, there is no cost for this conference. Register here.

GCC AI in Healthcare Symposium

May 18, 2022 | 9:00am-3:45pm CST | Virtual

Please visit here to view full agenda and speaker line up. Register here.

META Request for Research Proposals

Meta Research has six RFP requests for university researcher consideration.
  • 2022 Privacy Enhancing Technologies
    • Focus Areas: Privacy preserving analytics, Private record linkage and aggregation, Privacy preserving machine learning, Privacy of messaging, Anonymous credentials, Privacy preserving techniques in Data for Good, Privacy in Metaverse
    • Award Opportunity: 8–10 awards, each in the $80,000–100,000 USD range
    • Deadline: April 20
    • > Learn More
  • 2022 Project ActuatorX: Soft Electromagnetic Actuation
    • Focus Areas: Soft electromagnetic actuators; specifically device prototype(s) with applications in haptics, novel materials or actuator architectures that improve the actuator performance (e.g., force density or efficiency) and prototype(s) demonstrating the proposed approach, and novel ways to manage heat generated by the actuator and prototype(s) demonstrating the proposed approach.
    • Award Opportunity: 1 award, up to $250,000 USD
    • Deadline: May 2
    • > Learn More
  • 2022 Meta Security
    • Focus Areas: Program analysis (for security), System and hardware security, Applied cryptography, Intrusion detection, forensics, and incident response, Usable security and human-centered design, App attestation
    • Award Opportunity: 4–6 awards, each in the $65,000–100,000 USD range
    • Deadline: May 11
    • > Learn More
  • 2022 Towards Trustworthy Products in AR, VR, and Smart Devices
    • Focus Areas: 2022 Towards Trustworthy Products in AR,Applications such as AR and wearables, VR products, other AR/VR form-factors, smart-device social products, consumer and enterprise use casesVR, and Smart Devices
    • Award Opportunity: 8–11 awards are available, up to $75,000 USD each
    • Deadline: May 11
    • > Learn More
  • 2022 Networking RFPs: Network for AI
    • Focus Areas: Hardware computational offloading for AI workload, End-to-end novel transport designs for distributed AI training, Scheduling, resource allocation, communication collectives and network joint optimization, New network interconnect architectures for AI training and inference
    • Award Opportunity: Up to 6 awards, each in the $50,000 USD range
    • Deadline: May 23
    • > Learn More
  • 2022 Systems Research
    • Focus Areas: Fundamental challenges that arise in distributed systems operating at a large scale. Ex. Infrastructure control planes, Service abstractions and efficiency, Global service management
    • Award Opportunity: Up to 6 awards, each in the $50,000 USD range
    • Deadline: June 12
    • > Learn More
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Ken Kennedy Institute
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