AI Researcher @ MIT – Princeton Class of 2020 Valedictorian
Nicholas André G. Johnson has engaged in optimization and machine learning research at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton University, Oxford University and the Montreal Institute of Learning Algorithms. He is currently a Ph.D. student in Operations Research, the study of how to make good decisions with limited information in uncertain environments, at MIT where he is working towards developing a more unified theory of optimization and machine learning.
Nicholas holds an undergraduate degree with the highest honours in operations research and financial engineering with minors in computer science, statistics and machine learning, and applied and computational mathematics from Princeton University. He was the Valedictorian of Princeton’s Class of 2020 and is the first Black Valedictorian in the University’s 274-year history. His undergraduate thesis focused on developing high-performance, efficient algorithms to solve a network-based optimization problem that models a community-based preventative health intervention designed to curb the prevalence of obesity in Canada.
Nicholas has interned as a software engineer at Google and as a quantitative developer at the D. E. Shaw Investment Group and has conducted and presented international sustainable engineering projects at the United Nations Headquarters. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa, Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Xi honour societies. Nicholas has previously been featured by the New York Times, CNN, ABC News, Time and BET.
Here is a tweet that our team is pretty jealous about.
This Princeton alum is so proud of you, Nick! Congratulations on becoming valedictorian—and making history. I have a feeling this is just the beginning for you, and I cannot wait to see everything you continue to achieve. https://t.co/b9IVCg05SP— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) May 11, 2020
Representation of minorities in the technology industry
Not only is there a moral imperative for increased minority representation but also a compelling business incentive. Nicholas reflects on his time working as a software engineer at Google and as quantitative research at the D. E. Shaw Group to offer insight on how to foster inclusive environments in the technology space and to share advice on how to thrive in such environments as a minority.
Education as a tool to build a better future
Drawing on his experiences studying and researching at several of the world’s foremost academic institutions, Nicholas dives into how education, in any of its many forms, is fundamentally a tool to help people realize their full potential, effect change, and tackle some of the world’s most challenging problems.