Alex Hanson Receives the 2020 DoD National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship

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Alex Hanson, a first-year doctoral student advised by Assistant Professor Abhinav Shrivastava, recently won the Department of Defense National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship for 2020.

Hanson’s current research focuses on selecting data to make neural network training faster and produce more accurate models. In particular, his work aims to capture meaningful representations of high-level concepts from data via machine learning and use geometric methods to interpret and improve those representations.

“I am hoping to be able to distinguish what a neural network knows from what it does not know and determine how that knowledge transfers between networks and to novel situations,” explained Hanson.

DoD NDSEG Fellowship Program, established in 1989, encourages individuals who have demonstrated ability and special aptitude for advanced training in science and engineering to enter Graduate school and earn doctorates which aligns to the DoD research and development.  

Prior to starting his Ph. D., Hanson earned a bachelor’s in Mathematics and a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois. He also earned a master’s in Computer Science from University of Maryland in 2019.

 “This award is a reflection of all the help and guidance I have received from my advisor, Professor Abhinav Shrivastava, and from numerous mentors and peers here at UMD”, said Hanson.

The three-year fellowship will pay for full tuition and all mandatory fees; in addition to a monthly stipend ($38,400 annually); a $5,000 travel budget and up to $1,200 a year in health insurance.

“I am delighted and proud of Alex for winning the coveted fellowship”’ said Professor Abhinav Shrivastava. “His work will make the widely used neural networks more efficient, robust, interpretable, and transferable.”


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