Carnegie Mellon University

MLD Peers is here to talk about everything from really tough issues to more regular challenges that you may face as a grad student. We're happy to talk to you about whatever is on your mind.

Here are some examples:

I'm not sure I have the right advisor.
I want to learn about xyz subject, but I don't know anyone in that area.
I could use some time management tips and tricks.
I'm thinking of changing areas.
don't like my research project and I don't know what to do.
Should I apply for a joint PhD program? Can/should I take courses from department xyz?
I’m an international student, and I’m having a hard time adjusting to the cultural differences.
I am stuck on a problem, whom/how should I reach out for help?
Am I overworking? Am I not working hard enough?
I’m not sure if my advisor’s request for … is reasonable.
'm having trouble balancing school and personal life.
How do I measure my progress in the program?
I'm overwhelmed.
'd just like to talk to someone!

Confidentiality: All members of the MLD Peers group understand that these are sensitive matters, and promise to uphold the confidentiality of any information shared with us.

PhD Peers

Photo of Charvi Rastogi

Charvi Rastogi

Office: GHC 8227
Email: crastogi at
Area: ML + HCI

I’m a 6th year PhD student working at the intersection of Machine Learning and Human-Computer Interaction. I’m happy to chat about: pretty much anything, being co-advised, switching advisors, switching directions, paper rejections, fellowship/internship applications, struggling to keep a work-life balance (especially post-wfh), adjusting expectations about research, giving constructive feedback to advisors, seeking mental health resources, and anything I’ve learned from my pitstops so far. I moonlight as an indoor gardener, with some biking, reading and TV watching skills.

Photo of Motolani Olarinre


Office: GHC 8005 (or remote)
Email: molarinr at
Area: Computational Neuroscience

I'm a 6th year PhD student working on (Biological) Neural signal processing with applications in Brain Computer Interface. I am also into long (really medium) distance running. My experience has been: The beginning is the most difficult part. Community really does help, so feel free to reach out about anything.

Photo of Don Dennis


Office: GHC 8015
Email: donkurid at

I’m a 5th PhD student working on resource efficient machine learning -- making machine learning algorithms compute/memory/energy efficient. I am happy to chat on any topic you might want to discuss. Feel free to reach out!


Photo of Ashwini Pokle


Office: GHC 8113
Email: apokle at

I'm a fifth year PhD student working on diffusion models and deep equilibrium models. In my free time I love to do indoor gardening, painting, and walking around in Schenley park. PhD can be tough and taxing. I am happy to chat about anything---mental health, work-life balance, switching research directions, switching advisors, etc.

Photo of Gabriel Sarch


Office: NSH 4604 or Remote
Email: gsarch at
Area - Computer Vision & Computational Neuroscience

I’m a 4th year PhD student in the Machine Learning and Neural Computation joint program. I have dealt with: co-advisory, switching directions, research stress/planning, fellowships, Pittsburgh living, and much more. Would love to chat!

Photo of Oscar Li


Office: GHC 8015 or Remote
Email: runlianl at

I’m a fifth year PhD student working on meta-learning and (recently on) online gradient estimation. PhD can be a stressful journey and you are very welcome to tell me all about it – for example, we can chat about picking research directions and problems, internship search, work-life balance, and how to maintain a positive mentality. During my free time, I enjoy improving my skills at different sports (like surfskating and more recently bouldering).

Photo of Robin Schmucker


Office: GHC 8227 (or remote)

I’m a sixth year PhD student working on Machine Learning for Education. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, photography, and calisthenics. Doing a PhD is not an easy process and especially in the beginning it can take a while to adjust to the new environment and to find your way. Talking with others helps with putting things into perspective and many students were in similar situations before. Please feel free to reach out about anything.