Artificial intelligence is often in the news for the wrong reasons: privacy-penetrating surveillance systems, "deepfakes," racial bias in predictive policing, and more. All hope is not lost, though: when used in a socially responsible manner, AI can be used for good. For example, it can be used to augment the creative capabilities of people, a process often called computational creativity. Creating images, 3D models, writing, games: in these domains and more, AI is offering new and exiting ways for people to realize their creative visions.

This year, Brown CS is proud to partner with Google Research to offer exploreCSR: Socially-Responsible AI for Computational Creativity, a semesterlong immersive research experience program for undergraduate students which focuses on exactly these subjects. We encourage students from historically-underrepresented groups within computer science to apply, which includes, but is not limited to, women, students of color, first-generation college students, and LGBTQ+ students. No prior research experience required! Our goal is to expose students to what computing research can look like, to help them build self-efficacy and practical research skills, and to encourage them to pursue graduate studies in computer science.

About the Program

Who can apply: Current undergraduate students (including graduating seniors). This year, the program is entirely virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so no travel is necessary. We do have a preference for students in the US Eastern time zone, though, as many of our virtual events are synchronous.

Experience needed: Prospective students should have completed an introductory computer science course sequence. Coursework in calculus, linear algebra, and probability are also helpful but not strictly required. No prior research experience necessary!

Research activities: Participants will be paired with a faculty mentor and a graduate student mentor who will help guide them through a semester-long research project. There are multiple project options, depending on the experience level and time commitment of each student. These include literature reviews, project proposals, replications of prior work, apprenticeships with existing research projects at Brown, or new independent research projects. The program culminates with participants presenting their work at the Brown CS Undergraduate Research Symposium in late May. Throughout the semester, participants will be full members of a research group at Brown, with access to lab meetings, Slack channels, etc.

Other activities: We have numerous other activities planned to given participants a "behind-the-scenes" look at what graduate study in CS looks like. These include panels on demystifying the graduate application process, Q&A's with current grad students and alumni, attendance at Brown CS lab meetings, and observing formal graduate student presentations such as thesis proposals and defenses.

Time commitment: The program runs roughly the duration of Brown's spring 2021 semester: January through May. We expect research group meetings, mentor meetings, and project work to take a minimum of 5 hours per week.

Stipend: We recognize that participating in this program takes time. To help offset this opportunity cost, each participant will receive a $500 stipend.

Faculty Mentors

Students who participate in the program will be mentored by one of the following Brown CS faculty members:

Recent Research Projects

Here are just a few examples of research projects recently carried out by our faculty:

Tentative Program Schedule

The table below shows the major events planned as part of the program. Throughout the semester, participants will pursue their own research projects under the guidance of their faculty and grad student mentors.

November 18 Applications open
January 1 Application deadline
January 15 Admission decisions announced
January 29 Program kick-off meeting
February Workshop on the graduate school application process
March Observe research comps proposal
Graduate student Q&A panel
April Observe thesis proposal
Observe faculty candidate talk
Leadership Alliance alumni panel
May Observe comps defense
Observe thesis defense
May 5 Participate in Brown CS Undergraduate Research Symposium
How to Apply

To apply for the 2020-2021 program, fill out the online application form.

The application deadline is January 1 2021.
Selected applicants will be announced soon! Please sit tight!

  • I am an undergraduate student in my first/second/third/fourth year [pick as appropriate]. Am I eligible to apply?
  • I am an undergraduate student in my final year; I will graduate in 2021. Am I eligible to apply?
  • I am an undergraduate student from [your location; any country, anywhere]. Am I eligible to apply?
    Please do! Except, please note that Brown is on EST US time and many of our synchronous events will be in those working hours.
  • I am an undergraduate student from [any university or college institution, anywhere]. Am I eligible to apply?
  • Is this program only for Brown University undergraduate students?
    No; we like the rest of you too ; )
  • Is this program only for underrepresented groups or [x] students?
    The goal of the exploreCSR program is to support students from underrepresented groups to pursue graduate studies and research careers in computing (here). We will consider all applicants, but our focus is on this goal.
  • I am a masters or PhD student. Am I eligible to apply?
    We're afraid not, no.
  • I'm a high school student. Am I eligible to apply?
    Again, we're afraid not, no.
  • I am on a gap year but will be starting soon/returning soon. Am I eligible to apply?
    Sorry, no.
  • I'm not an undergraduate student yet, but I know a lot! I'm even taking a CS course at a university in my spare time!
    I'm afraid we still won't take you, sorry.
  • Are the applications first come, first serve?
    No. We will consider all applications received by the deadline (January 1st, 2021) in one go.
  • The application form asks for a transcript. Should I wait to add my grades from this semester or should I submit without?
    Our application deadline is January 1st, 2021—please submit what you have available by then. Please don't email us a transcript, either now or later on; please just resubmit your application.
  • How much detail should I put into the questions on the form, e.g., about research interests? Are you looking for a 'research statement'?
    Short and to the point, please! One paragraph is fine. We're not looking for a research statement; we'd just like to be able to match you to the right people and projects.
  • I didn't receive a confirmation of my application. Can you confirm receipt?
    It almost certainly went through. If you're worried, submit another one! We'll pick up the latest submitted on January 1st. No need to email us for this one.
  • I submitted my form, but received the error: '(You can't respond to exploreCSR 2020-2021: Socially Responsible AI for Computational Creativity. Uploading files is not permitted when data loss prevention is enabled for your domain. Contact your domain administrator if you think this is a mistake.).' What should I do?
    It looks like your institution does not support file uploads via Google Forms. You should be able to get around this by filling out the form while logged into to a personal (i.e. non-college-affiliated) Google account (you'd have one of these if you have a personal Gmail address, for instance).
Contact Us

Any further questions about the program? Send us email at explorecsr@lists.cs.brown.edu.