Clayton Cohn

PhD Student, Research Assistant at Vanderbilt University

About Me

Greetings! My name is Clayton Cohn, and I am a computer science PhD student and research assistant at Vanderbilt University. My concentration is Artificial Intelligence (AI) with a focus on Natural Language Processing (NLP) in learning environments.

I like to stay active, so I play hockey and golf and also lift weights. I'm a committed Francophile and belong to two French meet-ups that help me improve my language skills and gain additional exposure to French culture. I also enjoy volunteering and participate in two charitable organizations through Vanderbilt. I like taking advantage of Nashville's live music scene, and I enjoy playing guitar.

More than anything, I like to challenge myself. I like to solve problems and learn new things. I like to engage in constructive discourse and hear opposing points of view. I like to broaden my horizons and expose myself to activities outside of my comfort zone.


+1 847 962 6387
Nashville, TN, USA


Jul. 2022
  • Developed custom tagging scheme for analyzing discourse of student nurses
  • Applied multimodal ML methods to training phase identification in simulated ER training environments
  • Published at Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence
Jul. 2022
  • Evaluated textual data augmentation methods for small and imbalanced datasets
  • Outperformed BERT-based baseline models
  • Published at International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED) 2022
Nov. 2020
  • Master's Thesis
  • Completed systematic literature review of BERT's efficacy when applied to scientific and medical datasets
  • Explored various BERT adaptations across multiple tasks and languages
  • Identified effectiveness of domain-specific pretraining (domain adaptation) before fine-tuning with BERT
Identifying Causal Relations in Students' Explanatory Essays with BERT
Oct. 2020
  • Researched methods for improving BERT's efficacy on small, sparsely populated, and imbalanced datasets
  • Evaluated BERT's efficacy detecting causal relation chains in short-answer essay responses
  • Submitted to (under review) International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education (IJAIED)


Doctor of Philosophy, Computer Science (expected 2026) from Vanderbilt University
Aug. 2021 - Present
  • Focus on AI and NLP in learning environments (3.95 GPA)
Master of Science, Computer Science from DePaul University
Jan. 2017 - Nov. 2020
  • Concentration in Artificial Intelligence
  • Graduated with Distinction (3.97 GPA)
Bachelor of Science, Computer Science from DePaul University
Sep. 2013 - Nov. 2016
  • Concentration in Software Development
  • Cum Laude (3.54 GPA)

Work Experience

Research Assistant at Vanderbilt University
Jul. 2021 - Present
  • Performing discourse analysis and event detection of nursing students during training
  • Designing conversational intelligent tutoring agent for computer-based high school physics module
  • Developing formative assessment engine for middle-school science short answer responses
  • Exploring various approaches to few-shot and domain-specific learning in NLP
iOS Developer at The UpNext, Inc.
Jan. 2016 - Apr. 2017
  • Designed, built, and launched iOS music discovery app
  • Managed team of three software engineers
  • Developed algorithm for quantifying performance of up-and-coming artists
  • Implemented Apple SDK APIs and CocoaPods third-party APIs

Military Experience

Infantry Machine Gunner at United States Marine Corps
Jul. 2005 - Jul. 2009
  • Honorably discharged as Sergeant with "Excellent" Proficiency and Conduct Marks
  • Completed two deployments to Iraq
  • Awarded Purple Heart for wounds sustained in battle
  • Awarded Certificate of Commendation as Honor Graduate (first in the class) at Infantry Machinegun Leaders Course


University Graduate Fellow at Vanderbilt University
Aug. 2021 - Present
"The University Graduate Fellowship is awarded by the Graduate School to highly qualified students entering study for the PhD or the master's degree."
Russell G. Hamilton Scholar at at Vanderbilt University
Aug. 2021 - Present
"Russell G. Hamilton scholarships are awarded to highly qualified students intending to pursue the PhD degree."

Clubs and Organizations

Vanderbilt Prison Project at Vanderbilt University
  • Organizes semi-monthly meal preparation for Dismas House residents transitioning out of prison
Challah for Hunger at Vanderbilt University
  • Participates in semi-monthly challah-bakes to aid in fundraising for hunger-fighting organizations
Graduate Computer Science Student Council, Student Organizer at Vanderbilt University
  • Organizes and attends professional, academic, and social events for Vanderbilt's graduate computer science student body


Key Locator Device Patent #: 8855672
  • Key fob allowing key-locating via GPS and pager technology
  • Enables user to call, text, page, or ping his or her keys
  • Emits sound or vibration when pinged


+1 847 962 6387