ML@GT Expands Natural Language Processing and Data Science Research with New Faculty Hires


At the start of the 2020 fall term, Wei “Coco” Xu, Alan Ritter, Shihao Yang, and Jing Li will join the Machine Learning Center at Georgia Tech (ML@GT) as faculty members. Xu and Ritter join as the center continues to expand its footprint in the natural language processing field.

“We are happy and excited to welcome our new faculty members to the ML@GT community. Each year, our center gets stronger and more diverse and we look forward to Coco, Alan, Jing, and Shihao’s contributions,” said Irfan Essa, ML@GT executive director.

Wei “Coco” Xu

Xu joins ML@GT from The Ohio State University as an assistant professor. Her research lies at the intersection of social media, machine learning, and natural language processing. Xu is the recipient of many awards. These include the National Science Foundation CRII Award, COLING’18 Best Paper Award, and CrowdFlower AI for Everyone Award. Several of her research projects have been funded by DARPA. Prior to joining Ohio State, Xu was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. She was a MacCracken Fellow at New York University where she earned her Ph.D., and she holds a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree from Tsinghua University.

Xu is heavily involved in natural-language processing conferences and has held positions including senior area chair for Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), and chair for Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP), AAAI 2020, among many other conferences.

Alan Ritter

Focused on getting computers to better understand natural language, Ritter also joins ML@GT as an assistant professor from Ohio State. Ritter earned his Ph.D. from the University of Washington and was a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University. Actively involved with research conferences, Ritter has served as an area chair at ACL and Automated Knowledge Base Construction, as well as a senior area chair for EMNLP.

Xu and Ritter will both also join the School of Interactive Computing.

Shihao Yang png.
Shihao Yang

After completing his post-doc at Harvard Medical School, Yang joins ML@GT and the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE.) Yang is interested in harnessing the power of big data to solve real-life problems and focuses on computational tools, probabilistic modeling, and methodological development. This work includes using internet search data to build a tailor-made marching method to study cancer immunotherapy with electronic health data. Yang holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hong Kong, and a master’s and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Li comes to ML@GT and ISyE as a professor from Arizona State University. Her research develops machine learning algorithms and statistical models to tackle data science challenges arising from engineering and health fields. She focuses specifically on

Jing Li

Li is the co-founder of the ASU-Mayo Center for Innovative Imaging and the editor-in-chief for Quality Technology and Quantitative Management. She is also on the editorial board of the Journal of Quality Technology, an associate editor for IISE Transactions on Healthcare Systems Engineering, and a former chair for the Data Mining Subdivision of INFORMS.multitask learning, transfer learning, graphical models, sparse models, and data and model fusion. Li’s work interfaces between data science, health, and medicine to tackle problems associated with certain cancers and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury. The National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Arizona State University, and the Mayo Clinic sponsor her research.


Press Contact:
Allie McFadden
Communications Officer

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