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Ph.D. Student Receives Prestigious DOE SCGSR Award

Ph.D. candidate Eric Yeats has received the prestigious U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) award. The SCGSR program provides graduate students in STEM with research opportunities at DOE laboratories. 

“I’ll be able to learn a lot,” said Yeats, who will conduct his SCGSR research project at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “And the access to the computing equipment that’s available there and the domain expertise is going to help me in my career and help me develop these systems that are important for my thesis.” 

Yeats is a Sloan Scholar and fourth-year electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. candidate in Professor Hai “Helen” Li’s Lab. His Ph.D. research focuses on improving the accuracy and dependability of machine learning (ML) for safety-critical applications by enhancing the understanding of ML concepts. 

His SCGSR research project, titled “Interpretable Deep Neural Networks For Reliable Anomaly Detection and Inverse Design,” will focus on generative models of artificial intelligence, which take in text input and generate new data. Working with Frank Liu, a research manager at Oak Ridge, Yeats aims to develop generative models that can help make informed and efficient decisions for things like managing energy infrastructure.

“I’m super excited to be able to move out there and see what it’s like to work at a national lab,” Yeats said.

Yeats came to Duke in fall 2019. Since then, he has won the best poster award at the Duke Athena showcase, published and presented a first-author paper at the European Conference on Computer Vision, and had a first-author paper accepted to the International Conference on Learning Representations. He also started a student group called Duke Robotics Mentorship, which offers a free robotics club for local middle school students.


Be very clear about how being at a national lab will help you with your thesis, and that being there will help both you and the national lab. — Eric Yeats