My Students

In heading the HILT Lab, I oversee the research of many students - all at different levels in their education. Below is a list of the exemplary students I advise and work with as they explore fields such as Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, Cognitive Science, and Human-Robot Interactions. It is ultimately my hope that with the experience these students have gained in the HILT Lab, they will be equipped to pursue thrilling and gratifying endeavors.


  • Florin Bulgarov

  • Andrea Godea

  • Nishitha Guntakandla

  • Hamed Khanpour

  • Natalie Parde

  • Wes Solomon

    Wes has done work involving the identification of disorders and diseases in clinical text and introduced a model for predicting changes in systolic blood pressure using longitudinal patient records. His research interests include using selectional preferences of words to determine their relatedness or similarity, using automatic word similarity judgements to determine the plausibility of that word being a semantic argument for another, event prediction, and information extraction.

Doctoral non-CSE RAs

  • Stephanie Barbee

    Stephanie Barbee is a researcher with the HiLT lab in the College of Engineering working collaboratively on an IES funded grant studying Classroom Engagement Technologies. The research focuses on evaluating classroom engagement technologies through a computational linguistics lens via data analytics and machine learning theory. Stephanie has a B.S. in Psychology and a M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership. Prior to her work at UNT she was a curriculum author and public school teacher who led teams in special education and general education departments across primary and secondary settings. Additionally she holds certifications in School Administration, Elementary Education, Special Education and English as a Second Language. Her vision is to improve the education experiences of all children. She feels strongly that responsible education systems should support the whole child including social, emotional, physical and academic needs. Through ethical, sound research, she hopes to leverage emerging technologies to support both practitioner and student. Her support for technology implementation does not replace her respect for solid pedagogy, theory, and metacognitive reflection…elements that she affirms will always resonate through her research.

  • Suzanne (Chu) Chong

  • Jessee Dietch


  • Lexi Peak

  • Aniket Sakinala

    Aniket Sakinala is currently pursuing his Masters degree in Computer Science. He completed his Bachelors in Computer Science from Mumbai University in 2014 and has been working in the HiLT lab since Spring 2015. Aniket is working on the CompanionBot project and helps with automating emotion recognition. His interest areas include NLP and machine learning.

  • Namratha Urs

    Namratha Urs is a Masters student in Computer Science at UNT since Fall 2015 and has been volunteering as a Research Assistant in the HiLT Lab. She will be starting with her thesis work under Dr. Rodney Nielsen. Namratha’s research interests, as of now, are in Data Mining, Machine Learning, Information Retrieval and Natural Language Processing. Her interests are in travel, photography, food and music.


  • Eberechi Akoma

  • Nsoh Atanga

  • Nicholas Barber

  • Kristin Butts

    Kristin is in her last semester of the undergraduate linguistics program. Hailing from Norman, Oklahoma, she managed to escape to Denton for college. After graduating in May, Kristin will become an intern for Chi Alpha Campus Ministries at UNT for a year before pursuing her Master's degree in linguistics. She is interested in phonological dialectology and second-language acquisition, and how one affects the other.

  • Christine Carr

  • Zhaochen Gu

  • Starr Sharp

  • Dralia Tulley-Patton

    Dralia Tulley-Patton is currently a Computer Science major focusing on the applications of NLP in Security. She is very interested in insider threat detection and the plethora of ways that haven't been explored in this field. She tends to spend all of her time aside from school outside going camping, hiking, or rock climbing with her dog. Dralia plans to continue onto a graduate degree after completion of her bachelors. She does hope to continue research into the industry and someday after retirement become a college professor.

  • Tanner Van de Walle

Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS)


  • Amitava Das

    Dr. Amitava Das, a postdoc in the HiLT Lab working with Prof. Rodney Nielsen, joined the faculty of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at NIIT University, Neemrana, Rajasthan, India, as an Assistant Professor on January 15th, 2014. Amitava obtained his PhD from Jadavpur University, India, where he worked for an Indo-Japan collaborative project with the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. His doctoral work was on automatic sentiment analysis from natural language text. Before working at UNT, he worked for Samsung Research India, Bangalore, as a Chief Engineer, and spent one year working as ERCIM Post-Doctoral Fellow at NTNU, Norway. Amitava’s research interests broadly span human language, cognition and artificial intelligence. Presently, he is working on language code-mixing in social media text and Computational Creativity.

  • Bandita Sarma

    Bandita is a graduate student at the HiLT lab since Spring 2013. Her work focuses on automatic detection of resistance to health behavior change dialogue. This work is a part of the Companionbot project which aims to assist elderly people with depression through automatic generation of casual and therapeutic dialogue. She completed her undergraduate studies at National Institute of Technology, Silchar, India and worked for a year and a half at the Electro Medical and Speech Technology Lab at IIT Guwahati, India.

  • Aimee Acosta

  • Sara Adams

  • Keerat Baweja

  • Jacob Brunson

  • Daniela Caballero

  • Noelle Davis

  • Kathryn Farmer

    Kate was a linguist in the HiLT lab at UNT. She was with the HiLT lab full-time since receiving her MA in Linguistics from UNT in May 2014. Kate's MA thesis, advised by Haj Ross, investigated the cognitive processes associated with figurative language, specifically conceptual metaphor. In the lab, Kate analyzed, annotated, and transcribed linguistic data for the development and creation of NLP systems.

  • Jacob Figueroa

    Jacob Figueroa earned his BA in Linguistics from UNT in 2014. As a research assistant in the Human interaction and Language technologies Lab, he assists with a variety of annotations for machine learning. Such operations include clinical texts, switchboard conversations, SEEDing projects, and emotion detection. Jacob will begin working on his MA in linguistics in the fall of 2015.

  • Ben Garside

  • Adam Hair

    Adam has worked as a research assistant since May 2014. He will graduate with a BS in computer science and minors in accounting and Spanish in May 2015. He currently works with doctoral student Natalie Parde on the iSpy project to improve logic and implement new features in the learning system. He is interested in machine learning and modelling applied to financial and market problems. He plans to attend graduate school starting fall 2015 to further pursue his research goals.

  • Kevin James

    Kevin James is an undergraduate research assistant at the Human Intelligence and Language Technologies lab. He is pursuing a B.S. in Computer Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. He has been working on expanding performance in education systems since joining the HiLT lab May 2014. His interest include robotics, machine learning, and integrated circuit layout design. He hopes to further pursue research in natural language processing and additional cognitive science topics in the HiLT lab until graduation.

  • Dan Jarvis

  • Jared Kilmer

  • Anil Kumar

  • Austin Lane

  • Tailyr Mack

  • Frank Paiva

  • Darius Simmons

  • Abhiraj Tomar

  • Chengyuan Zhuang