Elias Z. Wang

Elias Z. Wang

AI Researcher | PhD Candidate

Stanford University

I am a PhD candidate in Electrical Engineering at Stanford, working at the intersection of artificial intelligence, psychology, and neuroscience with Prof. Dan Yamins in the NeuroAI Lab.

I am interested in the capability of agents to achieve goals in complex environments. I aim to both understand how biological agents develop these abilities as well as replicate them in artificial agents. In particular, I am currently focused in the domain of (intuitive) physical reasoning, motivated by the seemingly undirected “play” behavior and rich developmental trajectory of physical concept acquisition observed in infants. The goal is to create formal, computational models of this interactive learning process, which will lead to robust artificial systems that are able to learn “physical common sense” autonomously and efficiently in novel environments. Additionally, strategically probing these models will provide testable hypotheses about human development and act as a testbed for potential interventions and diagnostics. Overall, this research fits into my larger goal of developing technology that enhances human well-being.

Before Stanford, I worked in Prof. Melissa Warden’s lab at Cornell studying the neural circuits that mediate reward and motivation. I am also grateful to have had the opportunity to with Prof. Sebastian Seung at Princeton, Prof. Loren Frank at UCSF as an Amgen Scholar, and Prof. David Margolis, Prof. Ivan Marsic, and Prof. Gary Merrill at Rutgers.


  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Representation Learning
  • Physical Reasoning
  • Intrinsic Motivation


  • PhD in Electrical Engineering, in progress

    Stanford University

  • MS in Electrical Engineering, 2018

    Stanford University

  • BS in Electrical & Computer Engineering, 2016

    Cornell University