Elita Ferrando Attended NeurIPS 2019

I recently got the opportunity to attend The Neural Information Processing Systems (Neurips) Conference at Vancouver. Before I describe my experience, I would like to thank to CS Women and Women for UMass Amherst for supporting me with the travel grant without which attending this conference would have been difficult. Through this conference I met several RL researchers like Richard Sutton, Doina Precup, Mohammad Ghavamzadeh etc whose work I have been closely following so it was a dream come true when I finally got an opportunity to discuss my research work with some of them!

I gained invaluable knowledge from the workshops and tutorials. My favorite workshops were Safe Reinforcement Learning workshop and Deep Reinforcement Learning workshop and I am glad that through these workshops I was able to get feedback on my project ideas and also get a better understanding of the current research work directly from the top researchers in Deepmind and OpenAI. I particularly liked the talk on Batch Reinforcement Learning by Emma Brunskill. We also had a fun social dinner where we got to interact with several professors and got useful advice from them on how to find and answer important questions while doing research. Additionally, I met several researchers from top companies and discussed potential internship opportunities.

I also realized the necessity of being aware of research done in fields other than your own research field for making good progress in your research.

I returned from the conference feeling enlightened with so much knowledge and a better understanding of my own field of research.

In all, I had an great time at the conference and it was a great place to meet fellow researchers and discuss interesting ideas. I look forward to attending many more such conferences in near future.

I am glad that our university has a great CSWomen group that encourages women in CS to participate in such programs and I hope some days I would be able to be a part of the group and do the same.