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472 West Village H
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Ansel MacLaughlin is a PhD student in Northeastern University’s College of Computer and Information Science. He is in the natural language processing program, advised by Professor David Smith. The Kansas City, Missouri native is a graduate of Rhodes College, where he received a BS in Computer Science and a BA in Greek and Roman Studies.

MacLaughlin’s research area includes natural language processing and information retrieval, and he is a member of the NULab for Texts, Maps and Networks. He hopes to combine his interests of computer science, linguistics, and ancient languages, and apply them to his research.


  • BS in Computer Science, Rhodes College
  • BA in Greek and Roman Studies, Rhodes College

About Me

  • Hometown: Kansas City, Kansas
  • Field of Study: Natural Language Processing
  • PhD Advisor: David Smith

What are the specifics of your graduate education (thus far)?

I am finishing my second year of the PhD program. I have one more core course left before I get my masters.

What are your research interests in a bit more detail? Is your current academic/research path what you always had in mind for yourself, or has it evolved somewhat? If so, how/why?

I came to Northeastern thinking I would be working on digital humanities research, leveraging my bachelor’s degrees in CS and Classics, but I soon realized that I am more interested in computational journalism.

What’s one problem you’d like to solve with your research/work?

Specifically, I am interested in the problem of inferring source documents from news stories – for instance, given 10 science news stories written about the same scientific article, can we infer the press release from which all the news stories are drawing content?

What aspect of what you do is most interesting/fascinating to you? What aspects of your research (findings, angles, problems you’re solving) might surprise others?

Journalists act as the gatekeepers to all sorts of information, controlling what reaches the public eye and how it is presented. So, modeling the processes by which they select stories and create content seems quite important.

What are your research/career goals, going forward?

I am undecided as of right now whether I’d like to go into academia or industry.

Where did you grow up/spend the most defining years of your childhood/young adulthood?

Kansas City.