Thank you for your interest in our research! See below for how you can get involved. This information is accurate as of June 2024.

If you have additional questions after reading the below and want to get involved, feel free to email me. My contact information is available on my website. I encourage you to read Yonatan Bisk’s FAQ about emailing professors. I will try to respond to emails that are tailored to me. Please do not send the same generic mass email to a long list of professors.

PhD Students

I will take either 0 or 1 new PhD students to start in Fall 2025.

For PhD applicants: please apply to USC for a PhD program and indicate my name in your application. My home department is computer science, though I am open to co-advising students from other departments (and co-advising within computer science). You do not need to email me, because I need to see your full application to make a decision (these include confidential letters of recommendation). If you email me, I will try to respond if the email is well-tailored. I will check all applications which list my name as a potential PhD advisor. Please also check out my advising statement.

I am especially interested in working with students with the following experience, skills, or criteria:

  • who have built, fixed, and engineered robotics hardware.
  • who have implemented robotics or physics simulators.
  • who have significant experience in deep learning, imitation/reinforcement learning, and vision-language (foundation) models.
  • who have applied robotics to fields such as agriculture and health care.
  • who come from underrepresented, non-traditional, and/or low-income backgrounds, but who have reasonably “maxed out” their available resources to learn about robotics and machine learning.

I think this is a great time to be working in robotics. We have a wonderful (and growing) robotics group at USC. Furthermore, the computer science department will have a brand new building ready in 2024 for us!

PhD students will receive funding. The normal requirement is to TA for two semesters. Beyond those two semesters, I will do my best to support you with as much research funding as I can.

If you are a PhD student already at USC and interested in collaborating with me, feel free to email me to schedule a time to chat. To reduce back-and-forth emails, please clearly indicate what you would like to discuss and a range of available times.

Masters and Undergraduate Students at USC

Please fill out the following application. While we actively monitor this form, it can help to send me a brief email reminder to check the form. Do not attach any documents to this email, since you can upload them in the form. We will reach out if we decide to interview you.

Postdocs

I am not actively searching for postdocs. However, if you feel like there’s a good match and that there might be opportunities to get funding, I am happy to consider options. Please email me and include at least this information: (i) a summary of two project ideas we could work on, (ii) contact information for two references, and (iii) your one or two strongest research papers.

External Visitors not at USC

I may eventually be able to work with external visitors who are not currently at USC, but I expect this to be a very rare circumstance. To apply, email me by pitching me a 1-page project idea.

Advising Statement

Here is my brief perspective on advising.

  • I want to work on high-impact problems in robotics, and especially robotic manipulation. Whenever possible, projects and/or papers should show many real world examples of a robot adjusting its environment (including successes and failures). I am less interested in projects which eke out small improvements on benchmarks.
  • For presenting research, our target conferences are ICRA, IROS, RSS, and CoRL, though we will consider other venues as appropriate (such as machine learning conferences).
  • Unless we are legally forbidden from doing so, all papers/projects will have code, data, and other supplementary material available to help with reproducing results.
  • I am a very hands-on advisor who actively works closely with all lab members. I am available for regular or impromptu in-person meetings, and am available on the lab’s Slack for additional communication.
  • I want my students to be successful and will support academic, industry, or other career paths. I will regularly discuss with students about how to facilitate their career growth. I encourage PhD students to have 1-3 internships at top industry labs.
  • I will follow a code of conduct which includes an anti-harassment policy. I share the policy with lab members and ask that they follow it as well. As per the policy, if you meet with me, you can expect me to conduct myself professionally in our interactions both within the lab and outside of it.
  • Students should feel welcomed to challenge me. If a lab policy is not working, or if my research suggestion does not make sense, say so.

If this all sounds good, please apply to work with me!