Hi! I’m Nick Cheney. I'm a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Wyoming, where I perform and advise research at the interface of evolutionary design and deep reinforcement learning for simulated and physical robotic automation tasks in the Evolving Artificial Intelligence Lab
I hold a PhD from Cornell University in Computational Biology (with concentrations in Perception, Cognition, and Development and Behavioral and Evolutionary Neuroscience). During my studies, I worked in the Creative Machines Lab, co-advised by Hod Lipson and Steve Strogratz.
During that time I was also a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow, and had the pleasure of working with a number of excellent scientists and engineers at a various locations through this program (including time as a long-term visiting researcher at the Santa Fe Institute) — though my fellowship was primarily advised by Vytas SunSpiral and Greg Hornby, of the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA Ames.
I also hold an undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Vermont, specializing in Complex Systems, with minors in Computer Science and Economics. My primary research at UVM was in evolutionary robotics, working with Josh Bongard in the Morphology, Evolution and Cognition Lab.
My main research interests fall under the idea of exploring embodied artificial intelligence through artificial life. This entails studying the dynamics of artificial evolutionary systems and the automated design of intelligent and complex behavior in brain-body-environment systems (like autonomous robots), and also applying this knowledge to improve bio-inspired engineering and optimization. Thus my research ultimately derives from the computational theory of the mind, the theory of embodied cognition, and the theory of natural selection.