Nicholas Roberts PhD Student Department of Computer Sciences
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Advisor: Frederic Sala

Academic Bio:

I am a Ph.D. student in CS at University of Wisconsin – Madison where I am advised by Fred Sala. Before that, I had the pleasure of working with Ameet Talwalkar and Zack Lipton during my MS at Carnegie Mellon University. As an undergraduate, I was extremely fortunate to work with both Sanjoy Dasgupta and Gary Cottrell at the University of California, San Diego. Before that, I was a community college student at Fresno City College, where I was lucky enough to learn calculus, linear algebra, and C++ from Greg Jamison.

Research Interests:

I am interested in making machine learning more accessible and applicable to new domains. Recently, I’ve been working on automated dataset construction and model selection for diverse tasks—i.e., beyond well-explored domains in ML such as vision and language.

Email: nick11roberts [at] cs [dot] wisc [dot] edu
Office: CS Dept. 5384, 1210 W Dayton St, Madison, WI 53706

  • AutoML for Climate Change: A Call to Action
    Renbo Tu, Nicholas Roberts, Vishak Prasad, Sibasis Nayak, Paarth Jain, Frederic Sala, Ganesh Ramakrishnan, Ameet Talwalkar, Willie Neiswanger, Colin White.
    NeurIPS 2022 Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning Workshop.

  • Small Molecule Accurate Recognition Technology (SMART) to Enhance Natural Products Research
    Chen Zhang*, Yerlan Idelbayev*, Nicholas Roberts, Yiwen Tao, Yashwanth Nannapaneni, Brendan M. Duggan, Jie Min, Eugene C. Lin, Erik C. Gerwick, Garrison W. Cottrell, William H. Gerwick.
    Scientific Reports 2017.

    Poster: Small Molecule Accurate Recognition Technology (SMART): A Digital Frontier to Reshape Natural Product Research
    Chen Zhang*, Yerlan Idelbayev*, Nicholas Roberts (presenter), Yiwen Tao, Yashwanth Nannapaneni, Brendan M. Duggan, Jie Min, Eugene C. Lin, Erik C. Gerwick, Garrison W. Cottrell, William H. Gerwick.
    Best Spotlight Presentation Award: Applied Machine Learning Days 2018.

University of Wisconsin–Madison

Ph.D. Computer Science
August 2021 - Present

Carnegie Mellon University

M.S. Machine Learning
August 2019 - May 2021
  • MSML Student Committee Leader

University of California, San Diego

B.S. Computer Science
Mathematics minor
CSE Honors Program
September 2015 - March 2019
Magna Cum Laude
CSE Highest Distinction

Fresno City College

Computer Science
Leon S. Peters Honors Program
August 2013 - May 2015
  • Tutor for CIT 65 (Android Application Development)
  • Mathematics Tutor
  • Computer Science Tutor
  • President/Founder, Google Developer Group Fresno City College
  • Treasurer, Science and Engineering Club

Sala Group

research assistant
  • Research related to Weak Supervision and Automated Machine Learning supervised by Fred Sala.


research assistant
  • Research related to Neural Architecture Search supervised by Ameet Talwalkar

Amazon AI

applied scientist intern
  • Researched and developed methods for hypothesis rescoring in ASR systems using neural language modeling
  • Identified areas for improvement in many existing ASR systems when recognizing rare or zero shot entities
  • Technologies used: Python, PyTorch, RWTH ASR, Kaldi, AWS


ai fellow
machine learner intern
  • Researched various ways in which research from network neuroscience could be applied to deep learning
  • Developed a novel model extraction attack against deep learning models for computer vision using just noise inputs
  • Technologies used: Python, Keras, PyTorch, TensorFlow, MATLAB, AWS

Intuit Futures

software engineering intern
  • Researched and implemented a novel deep learning model for controllable text generation as a service within Intuit
  • Developed a system for proposing alternative candidate sentences for Intuit content writers using deep learning
  • Investigated the use of dynamic topic models for customer support tickets to gain actionable insights over time
  • Technologies used: Python, PyTorch, TensorFlow, Gensim, Keras


applied scientist intern
  • Developed language model to extract NLP features from text data regarding cryptocurrency trading
  • Investigated unsupervised learning techniques for extracting sentiment data in real time from online forums
  • Technologies used: Python, PyTorch

The Cottrell Lab (GURU: Gary's Unbelievable Research Unit)

undergraduate researcher
  • Published, Scientific Reports:
    • "Small Molecule Accurate Recognition Technology (SMART) to Enhance Natural Products Research"
  • Presented SMART research at the Applied Machine Learning Days 2018 conference at EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland
    • Won an award for Best Spotlight Presentation
  • Analyzed performance of deep learning system for natural products research with Scripps Institute of Oceanography
  • Explored the effects of artificial experimental noise added to the dataset and showed resistance to gaussian noise
  • Improved quality of image dataset by identifying and handling noisy outliers using principal component analysis
  • Technologies used: Python, Tensorflow, Lasagne, Theano, SciPy


software engineering intern
  • Developed open source Spark-Teradata connector forked from Databricks’ connector for AWS Redshift in Scala
  • Designed and implemented Teradata stored procedures in Java to mimic Redshift’s UNLOAD and COPY using S3
  • Improved training methodology and architecture of deep learning time series model used internally
  • Implemented system for updating the time series dataset and fine tuning the deep learning model
  • Technologies used: Scala, Java, Maven, Teradata SQL, AWS, Tensorflow, Flask

The Comeback Community

volunteer full stack developer
  • Developed site in Go, gohtml, and CSS on Google App Engine
  • Mentored new developers in web development
  • Technologies used: Go, Google App Engine, gohtml, HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript


software engineering intern
  • Developed web crawler to compile needfinding and product data using Scrapy and Selenium
  • Designed and implemented an extensible product search solution designed to handle future user search needs
  • Technologies used: Python, Scrapy, Selenium, Django, MySQL, JavaScript


software engineering intern
  • Implemented new user account, edit profile, and login designs in Objective-C for iOS application
  • Refactored analytics code for gathering statistics on app usage, helping designers make more informed choices
  • Technologies used: Objective-C, Cocoa Touch, Flurry Analytics


  • Sailing
  • Photography
  • Pottery


1Don’t forget to check out Poolsuite FM: the ultra-summer music player for the Macintosh Computer; transporting you to a virtual vacation where the sun never sets.