Maximilian Du

maxjdu at stanford dot edu

Hey there! I am an undergraduate researcher and section leader at Stanford University. I am majoring in computer science (AI Track) and minoring in creative writing (prose track). I work in Prof. Chelsea Finn's IRIS lab on robot learning.


My research and project experiences include reinforcement learning, behavior cloning, computer vision, and robotics. I am particularly excited at the interdisciplinary connections between  psychology  and computer science, especially when it comes to the mechanisms of learning, teaching, and training.

In my free time, I love to write creative non-fiction. Currently, I'm working on a book with the Stanford Storytelling Project.

Check out all of these things on my website! 

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Research is my primary interest. Currently, I am working in the IRIS Lab under Professor Chelsea Finn. I am trying to get robots to be more efficient in learning from their mistakes. Recently, I co-led a project where we used audio data and behavior cloning on real robots to accomplish difficult tasks like removing hidden keys from a bag. We will be presenting this at RSS 2022.

Previous research projects have included making an intelligent IoT stove, predicting ultra-short-term wind power, and monitoring respiratory frequency.

Click on the robot video to read more about my work.



For many years, I have taught myself a variety of skills, from bezier curves to meta-learning. Now, I am using these skills to help others. Since Winter of 2021, I have been a Section Leader for Stanford's CS106 programs. I lead weekly recitation classes and interactive grading sessions

I have led both 106A and 106B class sections, and I am also trained to be a course assistant in ENGR40M. Lastly, I'm also a Stanford Splash lecturer, and I teach a class that highlights the connections between animal training and reinforcement learning. 

Click on the "Bit" logo to read about the Section Leading program at Stanford



Part of my role as a researcher is to construct narratives of science. From paper to presentation, I tell stories of my work. Beyond research writing, I specialize in creative non-fiction and poetry. In both, I often focus on the magic, fragility, and danger of innocence. I'm also drawn to the story of animals and our relationship with them.


I'm currently working on a non-fiction book about captive killer whales, advised by DCI fellow Melissa Dyrdahl and Professor Jonah Willihnganz from the Stanford Storytelling Project.

Click on my selfie with a whale trainer read a selection of narrative essays, a poem chapbook, and a book pitch.



For me, photography represents a beautiful tension between capturing the raw moment and crafting the visual masterpiece. I specialize in nature photography and long exposures. My long exposures often include pyrotechnics or other forms of light.

Click on the sideview mirror to see my portfolio.


Electronics for me is as much a guilty pleasure as it is a field of study. In the past, I've made an arc-welder, sewage overflow protection system, and musical Tesla Coil.

Click on the welding picture to read about my electronic (and other tinkering) adventures



Master of the cheap gags, collector of memes, worshipper of the Stanford Clock tower.

Click on the totally-not-photoshopped picture to see my personal gallery, custom t-shirt collection, clock tower article, and more.