Student Spotlight: Eugene Bagdasaryan
April 19, 2021
Eugene Bagdasaryan is a doctoral student in computer science from Tashkent, Uzbekistan and Samara, Russia. After attending Bauman Moscow State Technical University, he chose to pursue further study at Cornell Tech due to the research and community.
What is your area of research and why is it important?
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have demonstrated significant advances in different fields and begun to deeply integrate into our lives. Possible applications span from health care to finance to public safety – areas that demand trustworthy and responsible behavior. I study whether machine learning models, specifically neural networks, contain destructive behavior and how to protect these models from adversaries. We don’t yet fully understand the underlying mechanics of neural networks which leads to unexpected consequences: attack vulnerabilities, fairness issues, or privacy violations. These questions need to be answered if we want to rely on machines to make decisions in crucial areas of our lives.
What are the larger implications of this research?
I see my research as guidance for AI practitioners who strive to improve the world with neural networks but also want to do things right. Being thoughtful about potential negative impacts can also inspire newer ways of applying AI for social good.
With the option to study in Ithaca or New York City, why did you choose Cornell Tech?
My advisors were both located at Cornell. Fortunately, my wife also was able to transfer to NYC from Moscow through her employer.
What is it like to study on a brand new campus in the middle of NYC?
A lot of effort went into making the campus friendly to the environment and comfortable to live and work. I still can’t believe how well designed and compact all spaces are and how close it is to Manhattan.
Is any part of your study located in Ithaca? If so, how did you navigate that before the pandemic and how do you navigate it now?
I spent my first year of my Ph.D. in Ithaca and that was the most inspiring and challenging year of my life. A mix of centuries-old libraries, modern spaces, and incredible waterfalls helped me stay focused and determined to pursue a career in research.
What are your hobbies or interests outside of your research or scholarship?
I am a big fan of water polo: in Ithaca I was on the Cornell’s team and back in NYC I play for the local team. I also like watercolors and really miss Ithaca’s sunsets.
Why did you choose Cornell to pursue your degree?
The field of computer science contained all I needed: amazing community, cutting-edge research, and very supportive administrative personnel. During the visit day I went for a walk through the morning campus and simply fell in love with Cornell.