Prospective Students

Prospective PhD Students

Are you interested in joining my research group as a PhD student? Great!

I receive a large number of requests asking if my research group has openings, and if I can accept a PhD student. Emailing me directly will not help your application. If you have a specific question, I may be able to answer.

The Computer Science department in general, and CLSP and Malone in particular, accept PhD students in Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and Health every year. Whether my group specifically has a position or not, there are many other faculty with similar interests. In addition, I take students almost every year. There is no need to email me ahead of time asking if I have open positions.

The only way to become a PhD student is to apply. You can find more information about applying to the Computer Science department here:

Be sure to checkout our advice on how to apply, as well as common questions.

I applied to the Masters/PhD Program. Now what?

Good luck! The admissions committee will review the material you provided. There is no need to email me about your application, or send me additional material.

Prospective Masters Students

I’m glad you are considering JHU. I have no input into the masters student admission process, so I cannot assist you in your application. Additionally, I do not provide funding to accepted masters students. Do not contact me about masters admissions.

Summer Interns

I do not generally take summer in interns. In previous years I have hosted interns as part of internship programs run by various groups at Johns Hopkins. Please do not contact me directly about summer internships. I am unlikely to reply.

Common Questions from Prospective PhD Students

I’m glad you are considering joining my research group! This page provides answers to the most common questions I receive from prospective PhD students. 

What will I work on if I become your PhD student?

I recommend reading recent publications from your prospective adviser. This tells you what s/he is working on now, and what you’re likely to work on for your thesis. 

However, in my case, I publish on a lot of different topics, and many publications are with collaborators that don’t include my PhD students. Additionally, number of publications by area doesn’t necessarily match the level of effort by area. 

Instead, the best advice is to look at the theses of my PhD students. You can find those here: Group See the links under each student in the alumni section. You will write a thesis that looks very much like these documents.

Everyone in my group works on machine learning methods and models for language data. This common focus holds my diverse research group together. Students differ in types of models and applications. About half of my current students work exclusively on core NLP topics, the sorts of papers you would find in an ACL conference. Most of these are related to information extraction, but the topics vary.

The other half publish NLP papers in the ACL community, but consider applications that are outside of traditional tasks or domains. These applications mostly fall into two areas. 1) Applications of social media related to public health or social good. 2) Clinical NLP. I’m interested in how to develop and apply NLP to unique challenges in these areas.

Not every paper I publish involves machine learning and NLP. Some have just one, and some have neither. But the core work in my research group, and every PhD thesis, combines these two areas.

What type of job will I get after graduation?

When considering an adviser, look at the jobs his/her former students got after graduation. I list the first job of each alum here: Group

Many of my students pursue academic careers, with the majority pursuing industry research careers. My view is that students decide on their own career goals, and my job is to help students achieve those goals. I am not the type of adviser who encourages students to take academic positions for my own reasons. I help students understand their options, and then support them in achieving their goals.

Why should I come to JHU?

For many students the answer is simple: the Center for Language and Speech Processing is one of the best NLP groups in the world, or the Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare is unique in its mission.

Beyond this, I can share why I love JHU: the ability to have a meaningful influence on important problems.

The key to doing transformative, impactful work is collaborations that create these opportunities. Johns Hopkins has inter-disciplinary work in its very foundation. Every university says “we encourage inter-disciplinary work” but Johns Hopkins puts in place the policies and practices to support it.

CLSP and the Malone center are two of many examples of this type of inter-disciplinary work. Consider the Bloomberg Professors, faculty who must be jointly appointed between schools. It’s hard to appreciate the logistical hurdles this presents, but we do it because its important. The CS department currently has four Bloomberg professors.

I have been particularly interested in health and medicine, an area where JHU is an international leader. In public health especially, Johns Hopkins is unmatched. As a result, I’ve oriented my research to benefit from this expertise. I work with the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research to develop clinical NLP that can be integrated into production environments. In public health, I work with numerous centers: Center for Population Health Information Technology, Institute for Global Tobacco Control, and Center for Gun Policy and Research. We have active projects in vaccination, HIV, tobacco, and infectious disease. I also have extensive collaborations with the Applied Physics Lab, a JHU research center with thousands of people.

These connections provide an environment at JHU that affords amazing opportunities for my research to have a meaningful affect on the world.