I am Khalil (, ), a PhD Student in the CSE NLP Group at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), working with Prof. Ndapa Nakashole.

I spent summer 2020 on an internship at Amazon Alexa, where I worked on Reinforcement Learning for Controllable Abstractive Summarization. I also spent a summer working at Adobe Research’s NLP Group. My work resulted in an EMNLP 2020 Findings long paper, and we filed a patent for our Label Attention Layer.

I received my Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland. As part of my Bachelor’s, I spent a year on exchange at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. I interned for a summer at Infosys in their Bangalore, India headquarters, and for a semester at the EPFL-based Swisscom Digital Lab.

My research interests are in Natural Language Processing and Deep Learning. More precisely, I work on Generalization and Interpretability for Learned Text Embeddings. I want to develop interpretable neural models – with applications in document classification, parsing, etc. – and make them generalizable to a wider range of applications and environments.

My research is funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health through the National Institute on Aging, Adobe Research Gifts, and an Amazon Research Award (ARA) through the AWS AI call for proposals.

PhD Timeline


  • April: My research proposal “Learning Representations for Voice-Based Conversational Agents for Older Adults” with my advisor has won an Amazon Research Award under the AWS AI call for proposals! This award will fund me for a year, and comes with generous AWS credits.
  • March: Member of the organizing committee of the 2021 SoCal ML & NLP Symposium held on March 22nd and 23rd. Fatemeh and I are organizing the NLP day social on networking and career paths for underrepresented minorities!
  • February: Giving a talk about my EMNLP 2020 paper at the Morocco.AI Webinar series! Register, and tune in on Wednesday, February 10th, at 8pm Morocco time, 11am PT, 2pm ET.
  • January: Happy New Year! The recording of our North Africans in NLP Panel Discussion at EMNLP 2020 is available here.


  • December: We are back for a second edition of North Africans in NLP, this time at COLING 2020! Join us on Wednesday, December 9th at 7.30pm Morocco/Algeria/Tunisia time.
  • November: Organizing the North Africans in NLP social at EMNLP 2020 with Asma Ben Abacha, Meriem Beloucif, Nedjma Ousidhoum and Waleed Ammar! Please join us!
  • September: Rethinking Self-Attention: Towards Interpretability for Neural Parsing
    Khalil Mrini, Franck Dernoncourt, Quan Tran, Trung Bui, Walter Chang, and Ndapa Nakashole.
    Long paper accepted to EMNLP 2020 (Findings)
    Scores: 4, 4, 3.5 out of 5.
  • July: Attending ACL 2020, online, thanks to a Diversity and Inclusion award.
  • June: Excited to start a summer internship with Amazon Alexa! I visited their beautiful Seattle office in January, but due to COVID-19, this internship will be entirely remote.
  • May: Check out our updated work with Adobe Research on the Label Attention Layer!
  • April: Attending ICLR 2020, online, thanks to a Diversity and Inclusion award.
  • March: Member of the ICML 2020 Program Committee.
  • March: Patent with Adobe Research successfully filed for our Label Attention Layer!
  • February: Member of the ACL 2020 Program Committee.
  • February: “Voice-Based Conversational Agents for Older Adults”
    Janet Johnson, Khalil Mrini, Michael Hogarth, Alison Moore, Ndapa Nakashole, Nadir Weibel, and Emilia Farcas.
    Accepted to the CHI 2020 Workshop “Conversational Agents for Health and Wellbeing” in Honolulu, HI.
  • February: “Using HCI to Tackle Race and Gender Bias in ADHD Diagnosis”
    Naba Rizvi, and Khalil Mrini.
    Accepted to the CHI 2020 Workshop “Engaging in Race in HCI” in Honolulu, HI.
  • January: Excited to start collaborating on the NIH-funded VOLI research project!



  • September: Joining the UCSD NLP Group!