Neehar Peri named a Maryland 'Undergraduate Researcher of the Year'

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Computer engineering senior Neehar Peri has been selected as one of Maryland's 'Undergraduate Researchers of the Year' for 2021. He was nominated by Computer Science Assistant Professor John Dickerson.

“I met Neehar when he took my undergraduate data science course, in which he received an A,” said Dickerson in his nomination letter. “His project in that class was great, as was his overall performance, but this pales in comparison to his broader research record—he has published full papers in ICCV and ECCV, two of the most prestigious conferences in computer science, along with a first-author workshop paper at CVPR, and another first-author workshop paper at ICML and ECCV. This is an incredible achievement for an undergraduate student.”

The award is eligible for exemplary seniors who have been nominated by their faculty advisors. This year’s ceremony will feature a multimedia presentation to celebrate each honorees' accomplishments, and Peri will receive $1K and a plaque for his achievement.

“I would like to offer my warmest congratulations for being selected as one of the University of Maryland's 'Undergraduate Researchers of the Year' for 2021,” said Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor and Chair, Joseph JaJa. “Peri’s publication record is truly outstanding and at the same time he has done very well in his courses. Peri was a student in my ENEE 436 course and his performance was excellent.”

Neehar’s papers have focused chiefly on robust machine learning. He first started pursuing research in computer vision with College Park Professor Rama Chellappa in 2018, working on deep representation learning for vehicle re-identification. In 2019, Neehar co-authored a paper that examined the use of conditional attention for improved discriminative feature extraction, which was accepted as an oral presentation to the International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV). Neehar continued working on vehicle-reidentification, and expanded the scope of his work to include unconstrained video-based vehicle tracking and anomaly detection. He published two workshop papers in 2019 and 2020 at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition’s (CVPR) AI City Workshop, an annual event that challenges teams of researchers from academia and industry to develop tools that improve traffic analytics in smart cities. Both of his workshop papers were selected for a spotlight presentation at the workshop. In 2020, Neehar has continued to extend his prior work in vehicle re-identification and co-authored a paper that examined methods of generating self-supervised attention for improved discriminative feature extraction. This recent work was accepted to the European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV), another top vision conference. In addition to his research, Neehar currently works at Mukh Technologies, a startup led by Chellappa that focuses on deploying robust facial recognition solutions. Neehar is currently leading a research project that aims to improve low-light facial recognition using multi-modal image synthesis.

Neehar also worked with Professor John Dickerson on defending neural networks against adversarial attacks. Specifically, he designed defenses for clean-label poisoning attacks, a type of adversarial attack on the training data used for creating machine learning algorithms. More recently, Peri has begun working on building robust auction mechanisms that learn from human preferences using techniques from deep learning.

This past summer, Neehar was accepted to the Robotics Institute Summer Scholars program at Carnegie Mellon University, and was advised by Professor Deva Ramanan. Admission to this REU is extremely selective, with only 40 students accepted internationally. Throughout the summer and fall semester, Neehar has been actively working on improving 3D detection and tracking in the open world for autonomous driving.

In addition, Neehar is part of the QUEST Honors Program, a multi-disciplinary program that brings together students in CMNS, Engineering, and Business. He completed the College Park Scholars Business, Society, and the Economy program during his first two years at UMD, and he was an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow (UTF) for ENEE244 in Spring 2019 with Dr. Manoj Franklin. He was also recently awarded one of the Computer Science Department’s nominations for CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researchers, and was selected for the Sujan Guha Memorial Award in Electrical Engineering for the best written thesis by a graduating senior. This fall, Neehar will be attending Carnegie Mellon University to pursue his PhD in Robotics.

Congratulations, Neehar!

Published May 3, 2021