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Mohit Bansal

Assistant Professor (Director, UNC-NLP Lab)
Computer Science Dept., UNC Chapel Hill
FB-246, 201 S. Columbia St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3175
mbansal -atsign- cs -dot- unc -dot- edu
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I am looking for motivated PhD students & postdocs in NLP, ML, multimodal AI: [Info for Prospective Students (2020)] [Department's Why-UNC Page]

Postdoc Opening: [link]


Dr. Mohit Bansal is the Director of the UNC-NLP Lab and an assistant professor in the Computer Science department at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill. Prior to this, he was a research assistant professor (3-year endowed position) at TTI-Chicago. He received his Ph.D. in 2013 from the University of California at Berkeley (where he was advised by Dan Klein) and his B.Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur in 2008. He has also spent time at Google Research, Microsoft Research, and Cornell University. His research expertise is in statistical natural language processing and machine learning, with a particular focus on multimodal, grounded, and embodied semantics (i.e., language with vision and speech, for robotics), human-like language generation and Q&A/dialogue, and interpretable and generalizable deep learning. He is a recipient of the 2019 DARPA Director's fellowship, 2019 Microsoft Investigator Fellowship, 2019 NSF CAREER Award, 2018 ARO Young Investigator Award (YIP), 2017 DARPA Young Faculty Award (YFA), 2017 ACL Outstanding Paper Award, 2014 ACL Best Paper Award Honorable Mention, 2018 COLING Area Chair Favorites Paper Award, and 2019 ACL Best Short Paper Nomination. His service includes Program Co-Chair for CoNLL 2019, Senior Area Chair for ACL and EMNLP 2020, Americas Sponsorship Co-Chair for the ACL, and Editor for the Computer Speech and Language journal.

Research Interests

Statistical natural language processing and machine learning, with a focus on multimodal, grounded, and embodied semantics (i.e., language with vision and speech, for robotics), human-like language generation and Q&A/dialogue, and interpretable and generalizable deep learning.

Work Experience

Computer Science department, UNC Chapel Hill (2016 — present)
Assistant Professor (Director, UNC-NLP Lab)

Toyota Technological Institute, Chicago (2013 — 2016)
Research Assistant Professor

EECS, UC Berkeley (2008 — 2013)
Graduate Student Researcher (Advisor: Dan Klein)

Google Research, Mountain View (Summer 2011)
Research Intern (with John DeNero and Dekang Lin)

Microsoft Research, Redmond (Summer 2010)
Research Intern (with Chris Quirk and Bob Moore)

Cornell University, Ithaca (Summer 2007)
Research Intern (with Lillian Lee and Claire Cardie)


DARPA Director's Fellowship, 2019

Microsoft Investigator Fellowship, 2019

Amazon Machine Learning Research Award, 2019

NSF-CAREER Award, 2019

Google Focused Research Award, 2019

ACL Best Short Paper Nomination, 2019

Salesforce Research Deep Learning Grant, 2018

Facebook Faculty Research Award, 2018

IBM Faculty Award, 2018

Army Research Office Young Investigator Award (ARO-YIP), 2018

COLING 'Area Chair Favorites' Paper Award, 2018

Adobe Faculty Research Award, 2018

Verisk AI Faculty Research Award, 2018

DARPA Young Faculty Award (DARPA-YFA), 2017

Facebook ParlAI Faculty Research Award, 2017

ACL Outstanding Paper Award, 2017

Google Faculty Research Award, 2016

Best Paper Award, ACL Representation Learning for NLP Workshop, 2016

Bloomberg Data Science Research Grant, 2016

NVidia Paper Award, NIPS Multimodal Machine Learning Workshop, 2015

Google Faculty Research Award, 2014

IBM Faculty Award, 2014

ACL Best Paper Award Honorable Mention (top-5 paper), 2014

Best/Outstanding Reviewer Award, COLING 2018, NAACL 2018, NAACL 2015, EMNLP 2012

Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, UC Berkeley, 2011

Tong Leong Lim Pre-Doctoral Prize, EECS, UC Berkeley, 2011

Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship, 2011

Honors/Awards of Students:

Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship, 2019 (Ramakanth Pasunuru)

Bloomberg Data Science PhD Fellowship, 2019 (Hao Tan)

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, 2018 (Lisa Bauer)

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, 2019 (Darryl Hannan)

Royster Society Kenan Fellowship, 2019 (Peter Hase)

CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award Runner-Up, 2020 (Sweta Karlekar)

CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award Honorable Mention, 2019 (Han Guo)

CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award Finalist, 2020 (Han Guo)

Other Funding/Grants:

NSF Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (UNC Co-PI)

ONR Advancing Artificial Intelligence for the Naval Domain (UNC PI)

DARPA Machine Common Sense (MCS) (UNC PI)

DARPA Knowledge-directed Artificial Intelligence Reasoning Over Schemas (KAIROS) (UNC PI)

NSF-NIH SCH AURA Connecting Audio and Radio Sensing Systems to Improve Care at Home (UNC Co-PI)

Publications (+Code/Data)

(most conferences below (incl. short paper proceedings) have a <25% acceptance rate; google scholar based list of top-ranked conferences in NLP, vision, AI/ML, robotics)


Instructor, First-Year Undergraduate Honors Seminar: Special Topics: Human and Artificial Intelligence Through the Prism of Language, Fall 2019.

Instructor, Advanced Topics in NLP: Recent Progress in Different Learning Paradigms, UNC Chapel Hill, Spring 2019.

Instructor, Advanced Topics in NLP: Conversational Models, UNC Chapel Hill, Spring 2018.

Instructor, Graduate Natural Language Processing, UNC Chapel Hill, Fall 2017.

Instructor, Advanced Topics in NLP: Language Grounding for Robotics, UNC Chapel Hill, Spring 2017.

Instructor, Seminar on Natural Language Processing, UNC Chapel Hill, Fall 2016.

Guest Lecturer, Computational Linguistics (Instructor: John Goldsmith), University of Chicago, Spring 2015.

Guest Lecturer, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (Instructor: Matthew Walter), TTI-Chicago, University of Chicago, Spring 2015.

Guest Lecturer, Visual Recognition with Text (Instructor: Sanja Fidler), University of Toronto, Winter 2015 — short course on 'Topics, Trends, and Resources in NLP' [slides].

Grad Student Instructor, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (Instructor: Dan Klein), UC Berkeley, Fall 2011. Received an Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award by UC Berkeley for excellence in teaching.

Grad Student Instructor, Advanced Topics in Artificial Intelligence (Instructors: Pieter Abbeel, Dan Klein, Jitendra Malik), UC Berkeley, Spring 2009. Sole TA for new course with 30 advanced students.

Recent Invited Talks/Keynotes:


3rd Workshop on Neural Generation and Translation (WNGT @ EMNLP 2019) ['Knowledgeable and Multimodal Language Generation': slides]

1st Workshop on Beyond Vision and Language: Integrating Knowledge from Real-World (LANTERN @ EMNLP 2019) ['Knowledgeable and Dynamic Spatio-Temporal Language+Vision+Robotics': slides]

Workshop on Machine Reading for Question Answering (MRQA @ EMNLP 2019) ['Interpretability and Robustness for Multi-Hop QA': slides]

4th Workshop on Representation Learning for NLP (RepL4NLP @ ACL 2019) ['Knowledgeable and Adversarially-Robust Representation Learning': slides]


RSS-2018 Natural Human-Robot Communication Workshop ['Spatially-Grounded, Personable, and Sensible Human-Robot Communication']

Triangle ML Day

Google Assistant Dialog Workshop

Machine Learning Summer School

SAS-Nvidia Deep Learning Symposium

ML@GeorgiaTech Seminar

Kenan-InfiaML-Rethinc Machine Learning Symposium

UNC Alumni AI Panel


Student openings: I am looking for highly motivated PhD students. If you are interested in the broad areas of multimodal NLP (with vision and speech, for robotics), language generation and dialogue/Q&A, and structured+interpretable deep learning, please see my prospective student page and contact me at mbansal-AT-cs-DOT-unc-DOT-edu for further details.

More student info at: UNC-NLP Lab

UNC Advisees:
Lisa Bauer (UNC, PhD) (NSF Graduate Research Fellow)
Darryl Hannan (UNC, PhD) (NSF Graduate Research Fellow)
Peter Hase (UNC, PhD) (Royster Society PhD Fellow)
Yichen Jiang (UNC, PhD)
Hyounghun Kim (UNC, PhD)
Jie Lei (UNC, PhD; co-advised with Tamara Berg)
Adyasha Maharana (UNC, PhD)
Yixin Nie (UNC, PhD)
Ramakanth Pasunuru (UNC, PhD) (Microsoft Research PhD Fellow)
Swarnadeep Saha (UNC, PhD)
Hao Tan (UNC, PhD) (Bloomberg Data Science PhD Fellow)
Shiyue Zhang (UNC, PhD)
Yubo Zhang (UNC, PhD)
Xiang Zhou (UNC, PhD)

Tsion Coulter (UNC, BS)
Han Guo (UNC, BS)
Akshay Jain (UNC, BS)
Sweta Karlekar (UNC, BS)
Antonio Mendoza (UNC, BS)
Songhe Wang (UNC, BS)
Yicheng Wang (UNC, BS)

Past Advisees:
Yen-Chun Chen (UNC, MS) --> Microsoft Research
Tong Niu (Visiting student; Duke, MS) --> Salesforce Research
Licheng Yu (UNC, PhD; advisor = Tamara Berg) (PhD Thesis Committee Member) --> Microsoft Research
Arjun Chandrasekaran (Georgia Tech, PhD; advisor = Devi Parikh) (PhD Thesis Committee Member)
Nitish Joshi (Visiting student; IIT Bombay, BS)

Malika Aubakirova (UChicago, BS)
Dhivya Eswaran (IIT-Madras, BTech --> CMU, PhD)
Rasool Fakoor (UT-Arlington, PhD --> MSR)
Arnab Ghosh (IIT Kanpur, BTech --> Oxford, PhD)
Yuchen He (UIUC, PhD)
Myungin Kim (UChicago, MS)
Zuyao Li (USC, MS --> Google/Nest)
Ang Lu (Tsinghua, BS --> CMU, MS)
Pranava S. Madhyastha (UPC Barcelona, PhD)
Hongyuan Mei (UChicago/TTIC, MS --> JHU, PhD) (MS Thesis Co-Advisor)
Aravind L Srinivas (IIT Madras, BTech --> UC Berkeley, PhD)
Ryan Stout (UIUC, MS)
Trang Tran (UWash, PhD)
Jing Wang (UIC, PhD --> Conversant)
John Wieting (UIUC/TTIC MS --> CMU, PhD)
Zhengyang Wu (GeorgiaTech, BS --> MagicLeap)

Professional Service

Associate Editor, IEEE/ACM Transactions on Audio Speech and Language Processing (TASLP)

Editorial Board, Computer Speech and Language Journal

Americas Sponsorship Co-Chair for the ACL (2020-2023)

Senior Area Chair (Machine Learning): EMNLP 2020

Senior Area Chair (Sentence Semantics): ACL 2020

Program Co-Chair: CoNLL 2019

Senior Program Committee Member: AAAI 2020

Area Chair (Semantics): EMNLP 2019

Area Chair (Summarization): NAACL 2019

Area Chair (Discourse, Dialogue, Summarization, Generation, Multimodal NLP): EMNLP 2018

Tutorial Chair: NAACL 2018

Area Chair (Vision, Robots, and Grounding): ACL 2017

Area Chair (Machine Learning): EMNLP 2017

Demo Chair: ACL 2017

Tutorial Chair: NAACL 2016

Area Chair: NAACL 2016

Program Committee Member / Reviewer:

Conferences: EMNLP (best reviewer award, 2012), NAACL (best reviewer award, 2018, 2015), ACL, NIPS, ICLR, IJCAI, EACL, COLING (outstanding reviewer award, 2018), *SEM, IJCNLP, ICON


Workshops: ACL Workshop of Women in Natural Language Processing (2017), ACL Workshop on Representation Learning for NLP (2017), EACL Workshop on Ethics in Natural Language Processing (2017), NAACL Multilingual and Crosslingual Methods in NLP (2016), NAACL Human-Computer Question Answering (2016), ACL Evaluating Vector-Space Representations for NLP (2016), NAACL Vector Space Modeling for NLP (2015)

University Research Proposals: ORAU

Organizer: SpLU-RoboNLP Joint Workshop at NAACL 2019, CVPR 2019 Workshop on Conceptual Captions, NLP/ML Colloquium Series at UNC, Language Grounding for Robotics at ACL 2017, Midwest Speech and Language Days 2015

Committee Member: Graduate (PhD) Admissions Committee, EECS, UC Berkeley

Panel Member: National Science Foundation (NSF) Review Panels

Software and Datasets: Available as links with corresponding paper in Publications/Code/Data.