The School of Engineering and Applied Science has recognized six assistant professors for outstanding teaching and research. Each recipient of the 2023 junior faculty award will receive $50,000 to support their work.
Lawrence Keyes, Jr./Emerson Electric Co. Faculty Advancement Award
An assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE), Chi Jin researches the theoretical underpinnings and approaches to training machine learning models, the key engines driving advances in modern artificial intelligence. Jin’s work draws on the complex mathematical subfields of statistics, optimization and game theory to uncover the obscure inner workings of these models. One important area of his research focuses on making reinforcement learning — one of the most common approaches to training a machine learning model — work better in real-world environments. His work has appeared in several of the most important conferences in machine learning and computer science theory, giving his work high visibility and broad recognition within those fields. In just four years, Jin has also established himself as a respected teacher, winning two Dean’s Commendation Awards. His research group includes six Ph.D. students: three from ECE, one from computer science and two from operations research and financial engineering. “He’s a star in interdisciplinary research,” said James Sturm, chair of electrical and computer engineering. Jin was previously the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award, a 2022 SEAS innovation award and best paper awards from workshops at the International Conference on Learning Representations and the International Conference on Machine Learning. “This is an outstanding record,” Sturm said, “especially so for someone who began at Princeton right after his Ph.D., with no postdoc.”
An assistant professor of computer science, Andrés Monroy-Hernández is an expert in human-computer interaction, the field of computer science concerned with how people interact with computational technology. Monroy-Hernández has published broadly in the field, on topics ranging from the development of wearable devices to studies of large data sets of online activities. His main research focus is social computing, understanding how people connect and collaborate through technology. He leads the Human-Computer Interaction Lab and is co-appointed with the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education. For his work he has received awards from the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, the ACM Conference on Weblogs and Social Media and the AAAI Conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing. He was named one of Latin America’s Innovators under 35 by the MIT Technology Review and one of the most influential Latinos in Tech by CNET. Prior to joining Princeton in 2022, Monroy-Hernández was the principal research scientist at Snap Inc. and a scientist at Microsoft Research. In his nomination letter, department chair Szymon Rusinkiewicz noted Monroy-Hernández’s “extraordinarily deep background as an adviser and a mentor,” including many published research collaborations with undergraduates and graduate students. “Andrés is truly an indispensable visionary in defining what computer science and SEAS will look like going forward, and what values it will represent,” said Rusinkiewicz.
Alfred Rheinstein Faculty Award
An assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, Emily Davidson is an expert in designing sustainable materials, with a focus on soft polymeric materials to address pressing needs in health and the environment. Her team works at the intersection of polymer synthesis, polymer characterization, polymer physics and self-assembly, and additive manufacturing. Last year, she received an early career award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science to investigate new heating and cooling materials. She has received additional support from Princeton Engineering’s Project X innovation fund on a new form of printing for polymer nanostructures; from Princeton’s Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund on materials for urban flood mitigation; and from the Princeton Alliance for Collaborative Research and Innovation for research, with Jackson State University, on energy storage technology. Davidson’s research aims to “enable the design and manufacturing of hierarchical materials that mimic the complex functions and responses currently found in biological systems,” said department chair Christos Maravelias in nominating her for the award. “Such integration will enable transformative applications from the small scale, such as biomedical devices and soft robots, through the infrastructure scale,” such as structural support materials, he added.
Kelsey Hatzell, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, is an expert on batteries and energy storage technologies. A specialist in solid-state batteries, her research explores fundamental questions related to dynamic processes that occur at solid-solid and solid-liquid interfaces in batteries and energy conversion systems, along with translational work related to battery manufacturing. For her work, she has received numerous accolades, including an NSF CAREER Award, a Young Investigator Program award from the Office of Naval Research, an early career grant from NASA, a Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, a POLiS Award of Excellence for Female Researchers, and an ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship. Prior to joining Princeton in 2021, Hatzell was an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Vanderbilt University. “Kelsey’s research achievements have distinguished her as a rising young leader in the areas of energy and electrochemistry,” said department chair Howard Stone in his nomination of Hatzell. “Her research group has made significant contributions to the field of solid-state batteries, and she has emerged as a world leader in in situ and operando synchrotron characterization of solid-solid interfaces.”
Howard B. Wentz, Jr. Junior Faculty Award
An assistant professor of operations research and financial engineering (ORFE), Jason Klusowski researches statistical machine learning for use in large-scale models. Klusowski’s work explores the use of fast, interpretable algorithms in decision-making environments and describes the tension among interpretability, statistical accuracy and computational feasibility. One important area of his research examines the application of decision trees, which are branching models that evaluate decisions and their possible consequences. He also has an interest in neural networks. Klusowski is involved in an NSF TRIPODS grant, “Data Science Principles of the Human-Machine Convergence,” and recently received an NSF CAREER Award for his proposal “Statistical Learning with Recursive Partitioning: Algorithms, Accuracy & Applications.” He is affiliated with the Center for Statistics and Machine Learning. In his nomination letter, H. Mete Soner, acting ORFE chair, said Klusowski’s integration into teaching in the department has been “seamless” and “the level and the maturity of his teaching contributions have been excellent.” Soner said that Klusowski has also contributed to the school outside the classroom. “Jason is a great citizen of the department, organizing both the department colloquium and the statistics seminar this year, and also serving on the graduate admissions committee for the past two cycles,” he wrote, adding that Klusowski is a “talented and productive young researcher with a highly relevant, focused and exciting research agenda.”
An assistant professor of computer science, Ravi Netravali is interested in computer systems and networking, with a focus on building practical systems to improve the performance and debugging of large-scale, distributed applications for both end users and developers. His research has been recognized with a Sloan Research Fellowship, an NSF CAREER Award, a Google Faculty Research Award, an ACM SoCC Best Paper Award, and an IRTF Applied Networking Research Prize. Prior to joining Princeton in 2021, Netravali was an assistant professor of computer science at the University of California-Los Angeles. “The distributed applications that Ravi builds, ranging from video and mobile systems to large-scale machine learning inference and training, are the engines behind the internet’s revolutionary integration into nearly every aspect of society. But in order to keep pace with the scale and functionality demanded, these services have evolved into complex networked systems that are difficult to deploy, optimize and debug,” said department chair Szymon Rusinkiewicz in nominating him for the award. “Ravi’s work addresses this worsening problem by developing and deploying systems that automatically alter application or platform behavior to boost resource efficiency while ensuring correctness.”