UBC’s Big New Investment in AI for Scientific Impact
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is fueling profound innovation across science, the economy and society, with UBC students and faculty at the forefront of many advancements. "Now, UBC is making an even more significant contribution with a significant new $23M investment to expand its research excellence in AI. A new interdisciplinary hiring cluster in the Faculty of Science, named "Artificial Intelligence Methods for Scientific Impact” (AIM-SI, pronounced “aim sci”) will consist of AI methods researchers who have an interest in achieving scientific impact via interdisciplinary collaborations.
The creation of AIM-SI will significantly increase UBC’s teaching and research capacity in AI, thereby meeting a major need: over the past several years, the university has faced unprecedented demand for AI teaching and AI research collaborations across all scientific disciplines. Better meeting this demand will lead to more scientific breakthroughs across the university and produce a much larger pool of highly-qualified graduates for Vancouver’s red-hot tech sector.
Over the next two years, UBC will hire five new assistant professors across the Departments of Computer Science (2 faculty members), Statistics (2 faculty members) and Mathematics (1 faculty member). The new hires for the cluster will be funded as part of the President’s Academic Excellence Initiative (PAEI), which is driving the largest recruitment of faculty in UBC history. The cluster will also draw together 14 existing UBC faculty members spanning Computer Science, Statistics, Math, and Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences--including UBC’s existing six Canada CIFAR AI chairs. Increasing diversity in AI Methods research and teaching at UBC is another key goal of the cluster, adding to existing momentum for diversifying our AI faculty, including within the Computer Science Department.
AIM-SI will be organized as a cluster of faculty within CAIDA, UBC’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence Decision-making and Action. The cluster’s Director will be Kevin Leyton-Brown (CS); its Steering Committee will additionally consist of Alexandre Bouchard-Côté (Stats), Cristina Conati (CS), Michiel van de Panne (CS) and Ozgur Yilmaz (Math).
As UBC's interdisciplinary AI research organization, CAIDA brings together over 100 professors and their research associates, spanning 27 departments and institutes within UBC. The Centre's focus is the development, analysis, and application of AI systems for decision-making and action, enabled by core AI technologies such as machine learning and automated reasoning. CAIDA research spans eleven focus areas, ranging from fundamental to applied. To complement existing research collaborations at UBC, CAIDA organizes events such as seminar series (divided into streams on AI Methods, Applications, and Ethics); job fairs; industry outreach days; and open houses. CAIDA also represents UBC’s AI community in its relationships with CIFAR, Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, and other provincial, national, and international AI organizations.