Prospective Undergraduate Researchers
I am always interested in having motivated Caltech undergraduates join my group either for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) during the summer or for projects during the academic year. I prefer to take students during the academic year since then projects can have a longer horizon. Non-Caltech students can also apply for positions through the SURF program as well, or the WAVE Fellows program.
Caltech undergrads who would like to join my research group may send emails directly, but because of the large number of such requests, I am not always able to respond. I advertise all available positions for research during the year via the CMS/EE partners mailing list in order to equitably publicize opportunities. If you see such a call for applications go out, please do not hesitate to follow up with me about the details of the projects. For SURFs, I take all SURFs through the new fall CMS SURF matching program, which has a deadline in early November. Often, it will be necessary to do significant preparation before the research can begin, e.g., via a 3-6 unit CS 90 during the Spring term.
Prospective Graduate Researchers
I consider applicants in a variety of programs at Caltech. You can apply through CS, ACM, CDS, or the CMS PhD programs. I expect that the CMS PhD program will be the most appealing option for most of my students. It is a unique program that sits at the boundary of computer science, applied math, and electrical engineering. To find out more about the program, see my blog post about it from when it was formed.
To apply, contact the graduate studies office. Note that fee waivers are easily available in case the application fee is a burden.
I often receive emails from prospective Ph.D. applicants with requests to discuss my work and the Ph.D. programs before applying. Due to the number of such emails I receive, I am not typically able to respond. Instead, please mention your interest in my research in the personal statement included in your application. You can get a good sense of my research from the talks and papers on this website. Note that we schedule virtual discussions and fly our top candidates to campus for one-on-one discussions with potential mentors, fellow graduate students, etc., before we make final admission decisions. So, there is a considerable opportunity to learn about the department and my research as part of the selection process.
Advice on applying. Caltech is a collaborative and interdisciplinary place and so we are especially interested in admitting students who can work with multiple faculty members. This cross-feralization is good for research and for the culture since it exposes students to multiple research styles. Many successful candidates mention 2 or 3 faculty and say why they are interested in those specific faculty’s research areas. Your research statement can be a powerful place to convey this as part of telling a more complete story about you than your resume. Talking about your research experiences, what you learned from them, and what they motivate you to learn/study next is powerful. Let your personality come through in this narrative.
Prospective Postdoctoral Scholars
I am looking for postdocs in a variety of areas, including but not limited to: (iv) online optimization and (multi-agent) reinforcement learning, (ii) the interface of control and machine learning, (iii) power systems & electricity markets, and (iv) carbon-neutral data centers.
All of the postdocs in my group come through the postdoc programs listed on the CMS department page. These are broad programs that allow flexibility for postdocs to work with a variety of faculty, rather than being tied to a single project. Applicants are encouraged to apply to multiple programs. Postdocs in my group have come in through each of the programs over the years.
After submitting your application, it is important to make personal contact with me and the other faculty member(s) with whom you are most interested in working in order to alert me of your application. I will not be able to respond to all such emails, but receiving them will ensure that your application gets my attention. Note that most successful postdoc applications have potential connections to multiple faculty.
California Institute of Technology
1200 E. California Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91125