William Agnew

I want to be able to make the world a better place and I believe I can best do this by developing and applying AI.

I’m currently a doctoral student at the University of Washington studying reinforcement learning, planning, and robotics. I'm advised by Pedro Domingos and Sidd Srinivasa and supported by an NDSEG Fellowship. I run marathons, rock climb, backpack, read, and cook in my spare time.


Google Scholar

Contact: wagnew3[at]cs[dot]washington[dot]edu

For anything queer related, please contact me at william dot agnew at ostem dot org for privacy reasons.


My current research focus is making AI that perceives, learns, and plans like humans. Humans learn much faster and generalize much better than AI. To close these gaps, I'm currently pursuing three projects:

  1. human-like perception and modelling
  2. human-like curiosity
  3. human-like planning

While simulations are useful for rapid experimentation, I believe implementing my ideas on real robots is necessary to prove they work.


I chose to research AI because AI will transform the world, and I want to help make sure AI transforms the world for the better.

Everyone will be affected by AI, so everyone should have an equitable voice in its development:

  • I founded Queer in AI in 2018 to make the AI community more accepting of queer researchers and raise awareness of problems AI can cause for queer people
  • I chaired the first Queer in AI @ NeurIPS satellite workshop, featuring talks by queer AI researchers and a panel on AI ethics for the queer community.
  • I served on the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board for the NeurIPS 2018 D&I co-chairs, helping make NeurIPS more welcoming to queer people
  • I serve as the Vice President of External STEM Partnerships of oSTEM
  • I helped start UW CSE's queer prospectives reception at our prospective grad student visit days

Robotics competitions gave me the opportunity to learn many of the skills I use as a researcher. Giving students the same opportunities is incredibly meaningful (and fun!) for me.

  • I've volunteered in 25+ FLL, FTC, FRC, and BEST robotics competitions as a design judge, pit boss, or inspector
  • I've served on the planning committee of Georgia BEST

As an undergraduate at Georgia Tech, I helped start and lead the Undergraduate Research Ambassadors Program and the Big O Theoretical Computer Science Club, both of which have provided incredible opportunities, mentorship, and community for countless undergrads interested in research. I also proposed and organized the first Home Depot Deep Learning Competition which gives Georgia Tech students at a hands-on introduction to deep learning each year.


Mentoring brilliant students is one of the most impactful and meaningful things I do. If you are interested in working with me, please email me your resume and 2-3 paragraphs describing your interests.



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