NRT PhD Trainees

 Cohort starting in 2020-2021

Frank Cwitkowitz

Frank Cwitkowitz.Frank is an electrical engineering PhD student working with Dr. Zhiyao Duan in the Audio Information Research (AIR) lab at the University of Rochester. His research interests span music information retrieval, music signal processing, and machine learning. His work focuses heavily on the problem of automatic music transcription.

Research interests: Frank joined the AR/VR PhD training program with the hope to work on applications involving audio-visual music entertainment and music education.

Google Scholar Website:

Jeremy Goodsell

Jeremy Goodsell.Jeremy completed his BS in applied physics at Brigham Young University in 2017. While there, he worked with Dr. Daniel Smalley on holographic and volumetric display technology.

Research interests: Since beginning his PhD in optics at the University of Rochester, he is most involved with studying the application of freeform surfaces and meta-gratings to the field of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR).

LinkedIn Site:

Narges Mohammadi

Narges Mohammadi.

Narges came to the University of Rochester in 2018, and is a PhD student in the Signal, Data, and Imaging Science Lab (SDIS), in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Research interests: Narges' research is focused on computational imaging, low-level computer vision, optimization, and statistical signal processing tools for AI. Narges is currently working on developing constrained optimization algorithms composed of AI and physical models that solve challenging inverse problems including global image restoration tasks (like image reconstruction) and local ones (including image deconvolution, super-resolution, deblurring).


Eleni Patelaki

Eleni Patelaki.Eleni is a PhD student in biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester, working under Professor Edward Freedman. She holds a BSc and MSc in electrical and computer engineering from the National Technical University of Athens and an MSc in biomedical engineering from the University of Rochester.

Research interests: Her work aims to un-mask Parkinson’s disease risk by systematically loading cognitive and motoric neural circuits, utilizing the Mobile Brain-Body Imaging modality.

LinkedIn Site:

Shadi Sartipi

Shadi Sartipi.Shadi received her BSc and MSc in electrical engineering (communication systems) both from Urmia University, Urmia, Iran, in 2015 and 2018, respectively. She joined the PhD program at the University of Rochester in September 2018.

Research interests: Shadi's research interests include VR/AR, brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), statistical and biomedical signal processing, affective computing, and machine learning.

Google Scholar Website:

Yuxiang Wang

Yuxiang Wang.Yuxiang is a PhD student in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Rochester.

Research interests: Yuxiang's interests include spatial audio, HRTF and auditory models. Yuxiang has always been very interested in the topics of study in virtual auditory display. Yuxiang feels that the fast-growing ARVR industry has enhanced his study in this field with more possibilities.

Google Scholar Website:

You (Neil) Zhang

You (Neil) Zhang.Neil is a PhD student in the Audio Information Research (AIR) Lab in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Rochester. He received his bachelor’s degree in Automation from University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC) in 2019. In his free time, he enjoys movies, badminton and traveling.

Research interests: Neil is interested in machine learning and its applications in speech processing, such as voice spoofing detection, audio-visual understanding, spatial audio, etc.

Google Scholar Website:

Cohort starting in 2021-2022

Meiying (Melissa) Chen

Meiying (Melissa) Chen. Meiying (Melissa) Chen  was enrolled in 2021 as a PhD student in electrical and computer engineering, working under Professor Zhiyao Duan in the Audio Information Research (AIR) lab. She has a BMgt and an MPAcc from Shanghai University, and an MSc in data science from the University of Rochester.

Research interests:  Her current research interests are in text-to-speech synthesis and music synthesis, and any topics about audio generation.

LinkedIn Site:

Jin Dou

Jin Dou.

Jin has been studying in the Department of Biomedical Engineering under the supervision of Dr. Edmund Lalor. His current research interest is in exploring language processing in the human brain using quantitative modelling approaches. Jin comes from the University of Southern California with a master’s in Computer Science. In 2018, he acquired experience collaborating with the Microsoft MR Academic and other students to build a multi-user visualization of molecular dynamics in a Mixed Reality environment using Unity 3D. In Fall 2019 Jin collaborated with another student to build a web-based AR mobile application using the 8thWall platform. Since coming to the University of Rochester, he built a virtual research environment for human multisensory cognition research.

Research Interests: As a first-year PhD student, Jin’s current research is focused on developing computational approaches to explore mappings between natural language and brain signals. He is excited to dive into his research efforts here at the University of Rochester.

LinkedIn Site:

Erin Driscoll

Erin Driscoll. Erin Driscoll is a PhD student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at the University of Rochester, working with Dr. Mark Bocko. She received a MSc degree in ECE from the University of Rochester, and BS/BA degrees in applied math and piano performance from the University of New Hampshire.

Research interests: Erin’s research is in acoustics and audio signal processing, applying partial wavefield coherence theory to problems in acoustics and spatial audio. Her work aims to advance research that has extensive application in AR/VR spatial audio.

LinkedIn Site: 

Yiwen Fan

Yiwen Fan.Yiwen Fan finished her BS in applied optics in Beijing, China in 2018. She completed her MS and became a PhD student in the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester in 2020. She is now working with Professor Jannick Rolland in freeform optics.

Research interests: Yiwen's research interests include the optical design of AR/VR systems, computing optimization. She has been involved in some projects related to high-accurate numerical calculation with optimized algorithms.

University of Rochester Website:

Eli Mercer

Eli Mercer.Eli Mercer comes to the University of Rochester with interests in pursuing musical acoustics and audio signal processing. They are currently researching 3D audio and sound source localization using audio filtered with head related transfer functions.

Research interests: Using three dimensional multiphysics software to estimate the HRTF of a given head-shape. We are hoping to then create a set of parameters that a user can select from to 'transform' the head-shape in the program and obtain a semi-individualized HRTF to make the source localization process more accurate as it has been found that using a general HRTF to filter audio has less than satisfactory results.

LinkedIn Website:

Ali Vosoughi

Ali Vosoughi.Ali Vosoughi is a PhD student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Rochester (joined in 2019). 

Research interests: Ali is interested in Counterfactual Machine Learning and Causal Learning, focusing on Computer Vision (CV) and Deep Generative Models (DGM) for Image-to-Image translation, Few-Shot Learning (FSL), and Change/Anomaly Detection (CD/AD) in Visual Information. He hopes that AI assistants in the AR/VR systems will help users perform complex imagination and reasoning tasks leveraging visual and natural language sensory information in the future. In his free time, Ali bikes, swims, plays volleyball, and watches movies. 

Website: Ali Vosoughi - PhD Candidate

LinkedIn Website:

Pei Xiong

Pei Xiong. Pei Xiong completed her BS in optical and electronic engineering at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China. She is now a PhD student in optics at the University of Rochester.

Research interests: Pei’s research is focused on the combiner optics for AR systems, especially on the pupil expansion methods for the waveguide-based combiners.

University of Rochester Website:

 Qinqin Xiao

Qinqin Xiao. Qinqin Xiao is an EdD student in the Program of Teaching and Curriculum advised by Dr. Raffaella Borasi at the Warner School of Education. She has 15 years of experience in K-12 education. She also started graduate studies at the Goergen Institute for Data Science. She co-authored a research paper about AR-robot interaction on MSEC 2021 and received the NSF Student Support Award.

Research interests: Qinqin's research interests are focused on STEM K-12 education, HCI, cognition, AR/VR game design for STEM learners, occupational skills training.

LinkedIn Site:

Erqian Xu

Erqian Xu. Erqian Xu is a PhD student in the Program of Teaching, Curriculum and Change under the supervision of Dr. Raffaella Borasi, along with the advanced certificate program in data science at the University of Rochester. Prior to joining the University, she received a master’s degree from Harvard University and held a teaching position there for six years.

Research interests: Erqian is passionate about leveraging augmented and virtual reality to enhance children’s literacy and social development, and train novice teachers for better instructional quality, especially among regions with imbalanced resources.


Xiaofei Zhou

Xiaofei Zhou.Xiaofei Zhou started joined the Department of Computer Science at the University of Rochester in 2019, under the supervision of Dr. Zhen Bai. She completed her BS in industrial engineer at Tsinghua University and MS in educational technology and learning sciences at Carnegie Mellon University.

Research interests: Transcending learning for people through design and technology, especially creating innovative, interactive systems to help people develop complex knowledge, and ultimately realize their own life values. Currently, Xiaofei is working on how ML can empower scientific discovery in K-12 STEM education for novice learners.

LinkedIn Site:

Personal Website: