Principal Investigator

Catherine Qi Zhao

I received my Ph.D. degree in computer vision and machine learning, and later did post-doctoral work with Dr. Christof Koch at Caltech, beginning my studies on computational neuroscience and mental health. I am broadly interested in bridging artificial and human intelligence, for example, investigating the relationship of attention, scene understanding, and action, and developing integrated AI systems. We also develop AI-enabled tools to benefit clinical populations. Our research is supported by NSF, NIH, and the University of Minnesota.


Ming Jiang, postdoc researcher

I received my Ph.D. degree from National University of Singapore working with Dr. Zhao, and obtained my B.Sc .and M.Eng. degrees in Computer Science from Zhejiang University, China. Currently I am a postdoc researcher at the University of Minnesota continuing my research on attention experiments and data-driven methods for modeling attention and atypical attention. My research aims to understand the neural mechanism of selective visual attention and build attentional systems to predict where humans look at in natural environment.

Shi Chen, Ph.D. student

I am currently a Ph.D. student working on attention, vision, and language, with new approaches in deep neural network and multi-modal fusion. I am also interested in applications in mental health. I obtained my M.S. degree in Computer Science from University of Minnesota in 2017.

Xianyu Chen, Ph.D. student

Broadly, I am interested in the following questions: When encountering unfamiliar instances, how does a machine develop foundational structures and imitate a fast learning procedure as humans do? How does a machine perceive the real world by leveraging multiple modalities without a large amount of supervision? I am a Ph.D. student working with Dr. Zhao on research related to few-shot learning problems from theory to application with the rapid development of deep neural network and advanced mathematical tools. I am interested in applications to vision and language with the help of probabilistic generative models, meta-learning and convex optimization. For more information, please see my website.

Yan Luo, Ph.D. student

I am currently a Ph.D. student working on deep neural networks and information fusion. I obtained a B.Sc. degree in Computer Science from Xi'an, China, in 2008. After that I worked in the industry for several years on distributed systems. I am now back to school and my interests are broadly computer vision and machine learning.

James Jinhui Yang, Ph.D. student

I obtained my B.A. degree in computer science and statistics from Carleton College, and am currently a first-year Ph.D. student at Dr. Zhao's lab. I am broadly interested in computer vision and machine learning applications with biomedical data. Some of my previous research includes hyperparameter optimization in topic modeling and data clustering.

Yifeng Zhang, Ph.D. student

I am currently a Ph.D. student working on visual relation detection with external knowledge. I'm also interested in problems of graph data, such as graph convolution and representation learning. I obtained my B.Sc. and M.Phil. degree in Computer Science from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Sthitie Bom, Ph.D. student

I am a Phd student in the Cognitive Science program, interested in understanding the human capacity to make decisions, and how we typically exercise this capacity to design, embrace or resist decision-making production systems. I run a global reporting & factory control systems team for wafer manufacturing at Seagate Technology, and my current research is focussed around the feasibility of learning systems in real world applications.

James Mooney, Master student

Hi there! I am currently a Master student at the University of Minnesota. I obtained my Bachelor degree in Computer Science and Mathematics here, and joined Dr. Zhao's lab as a senior. I am broadly interested in how to computationally model the many things that people do every day with such ease. More specifically, I am interested in understanding how to model language and vision through deep neural networks.

Zhaorong Lian, Master student

I am currently a Master student at the University of Minnesota working on embodied visual-and-language problems. I obtained my Bachelor degree in software engineering from Beihang University. I'm also interested in computational neuroscience and neural signal decoding with deep learning models.

Nathaniel Gessesse, Master student

I am currently a second year Master student at the University of Minnesota. I studied computer science and chemistry during my undergraduate studies. I am highly interested in the applications of computer vision in diagnostic imaging.

Connor Theisen, Master student

I'm currently a Data Science Master student at the University of Minnesota. I obtained my B.A. in Applied Mathematics with minors in Computer Science and Mathematical Statistics at the University of St. Thomas. After my undergrad, I was a Data Engineer for 2 years at Ovative Group. I am overall interested in applying machine learning, data mining, and big data models to help create social good impact in areas such as health, economics, politics, sociology, or law. My growing curiosity in the health field has led me to Dr. Zhao's lab, whose research affects me personally because I have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Specifically, a mild form of Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), so it's a privilege and honor to help contribute to this lab.


Ph.D. Students
  • Chengyao Shen (graduated 2016, first job: Research Enginner at AutoX Inc., CA)
  • Qiang Zhou (graduated 2016, first job: Postdoc Researcher at Nanyang Technological University)
  • Weiquan Lu (graduated 2014, first job: Assistant Professor at National University of Singapore)
Ph.D. Students (advisor till 09/2016 and then co-advisor)
  • Mengmi Zhang (gradulated 2019, first job: Postdoc Researcher at Harvard University, MA)
  • Junnan Li (gradulated 2019, first job: Research Scientist, Salesforce Research Asia, Singapore)
  • Bingjie Xu (gradulated 2019, first job: Research Engineer, Dyson Singapore)
  • Juanyong Duan (gradulated 2019, first job: Software Engineer, Microsoft)
Research Staff
  • Shaojing Fan (research associate, 2015-2018)
  • Xavier Boix (postdoc, 2015-2016)
  • Shane Huang (research associate, 2014-2015)
  • Xun Huang (research intern, 2014-2015)
  • Haoran Liang (research intern, 2014-2015)