College Honors ECE Graduate Student for Excellence in Research

Zhengfeng (Jeff) Lai

Zhengfeng (Jeff) Lai has received the 2024 Excellence in Graduate Student Research award from the College of Engineering, recognizing the work he completed throughout his Ph.D. program in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The honor is part of the annual College of Engineering Graduate Student Excellence awards that celebrate student contributions to research, service, safety and DEI.

Lai's research stands to advance the possibilities of computer vision and machine learning. Throughout his graduate program with Professor Chen-Nee Chuah as his advisor, Lai published 14 articles (11 first-authored), which have already received over 200 citations.

Notably, Lai won a Best Paper Award at the 2022 Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition for pioneering research on a semi-supervised learning framework that does not make assumptions about unlabeled data. While pursuing his doctorate, he also filed a patent application for a project where he successfully applied machine learning to detect congenital heart disease in newborns.

Lai graduated in December 2023 and currently works as a machine learning research scientist at Apple, where he has revolutionized the company's use of large-scale pre-training and multimodal modeling.

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