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Canada’s top international AI talent grows to 80

by Krista Davidson Dec 9 / 19

Under the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, a total of $86.5M has been allocated to recruit and retain world-leading experts in AI.

The Canada CIFAR AI Chairs program, a cornerstone of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, provides outstanding researchers with long-term, dedicated funding to support their research programs and to train the next generation of AI leaders. Each of the chairs will receive five years of dedicated funding to support research excellence in machine learning. The program is one of the goals of the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, a $125-million investment by the Government of Canada.

“The Canada CIFAR AI Chairs program attracts the best researchers and students in the world to Canada. Through it, we are strengthening our leadership in AI research and creating innovative new technologies to grow our economy, create highly skilled jobs and improve the quality of life for all Canadians.”
- Navdeep Bains, Minister, Innovation, Science and Industry.

 

The 34 newly-named chairs are pioneering research in areas that will have a global societal impact, such as the development of machine learning for medical image analysis, using AI to map and enhance our understanding of the brain, developing responsible and ethical AI technologies, using AI to power robotics for tasks such as safety and surgery, 3D computer vision, natural language processing, and more.

“Congratulations to the outstanding researchers who are joining the prestigious Canada CIFAR AI Chairs program. Canada and CIFAR have a strong history in supporting AI research and talent, and this program will solidify our position as global leaders in AI."
- Dr. Alan Bernstein, CIFAR president & CEO

Attracting world-class talent

Thirteen of the chairs named in this cohort have chosen to remain in Canada, a testament to Canada’s leadership in AI. Twenty-one are either taking up their first faculty position in Canada and/or have been recruited from the US and around the world to pursue groundbreaking research in Canada.

“AI has the potential to deliver enormous positive social, economic and environmental benefits. The Canada CIFAR AI Chairs announced today bring diverse perspectives and expertise. Their research will advance AI technologies that are innovative, responsible, equitable and beneficial to society.” 
- Dr. Elissa Strome, AVP research and executive director of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, CIFAR

With today’s announcement, since the program launched in December 2018, a total of 80 Canada CIFAR AI Chairs have been named, securing world-class talent and expertise in Canada. The cluster of AI experts is attracting talented students to study in Canada, major multinational companies to set up R&D labs, and inspiring a critical mass of AI startups.

Two researchers awarded Facebook CIFAR AI Chair

In September 2017, CIFAR and Facebook announced a new US$2.625 million partnership. As a major milestone in the partnership, CIFAR is pleased to announce that two of the chairs named today will be Facebook CIFAR AI Chairs. The chairs, Siva Reddy (Mila, McGill University) and Pierre-Luc Bacon (Mila, Université de Montréal), are both based in university labs and will exercise total research independence as chairs.

“We are proud to partner with CIFAR, continuing our investment in Canada’s thriving artificial intelligence ecosystem. Attracting and retaining global talent is an important way for Canada to maintain its global leadership in artificial intelligence.” 
- Kevin Chan, head of public policy at Facebook Canada. 

Pan-Canadian AI Leadership

CIFAR works in close partnership with with three national AI Institutes: Amii (Edmonton), Mila (Montréal) and the Vector Institute (Toronto) in naming chairs for the program. The AI Institutes nominate researchers to the program, and nominations are reviewed by a group of esteemed international reviewers.

The researchers in this cohort are based at École Polytechnique de Montréal, Google Brain, McGill University, Microsoft Research, Université Laval, Université de Montréal, Université de Sherbrooke, University of Alberta, University of Toronto, and the University of Waterloo.

Canada CIFAR AI Chairs 2019 at the AICan conference
The Canada CIFAR AI Chairs at AICan 2019


34 Canada CIFAR AI Chairs named at AICan 2019:

Amii (Edmonton, Alberta)

Rupam Mahmood, Dept. of Computing Science, University of Alberta, Recruited

Lili Mou, Dept. of Computing Science, University of Alberta, Recruited

Nathan Sturtevant, Dept. of Computing Science, University of Alberta, Recruited

Csaba Szepesvári, Dept. of Computing Science, University of Alberta & DeepMind,  Retained

Adam White, Dept. of Computing Science, University of Alberta & DeepMind, Recruited

Mila (Montréal, Quebec)

Aishwarya Agrawal, Dept. of Computer Science and Operations Research, Université de Montréal (starting 2020), Recruited

Tal Arbel, Electrical and Computer Engineering, McGill University, Retained

Pierre-Luc Bacon (Facebook CIFAR AI Chair), Dept. of Computer Science and Operations Research, Université de Montréal, Recruited

Danilo Bzdok, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, McGill University, Recruited

Sarath Chandar, École Polytechnique de Montréal, Recruited

Fernando Diaz, School of Computer Science, McGill University & Microsoft Research, Recruited

Marc-Antoine Dilhac, Dept. of Philosophy, Université de Montréal, Retained

Christophe Dubach, School of Computer Science & Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering, McGill University, Recruited

Audrey Durand, Depts. of Computer Science & Software Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering, Université Laval, Recruited

Christian Gagné, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering, Université Laval, Retained

Pascal Germain, Dept. of Computer Science & Software Engineering, Université Laval, Recruited

François Laviolette, Dept. of Computer Science & Software Engineering, Université Laval, Retained

Nicolas LeRoux, School of Computer Science, McGill University & Google Brain, Recruited

Tim O’Donnell, Dept. of Linguistics, McGill University, Retained

Courtney Paquette, Dept. of Mathematics & Statistics, McGill University, Recruited

Siamak Ravanbakhsh, School of Computer Science, McGill University, Retained

Siva Reddy (Facebook CIFAR AI Chair), School of Computer Science and Dept. of Linguistics, McGill University, Recruited

Irina Rish, Dept. of Computer Science and Operations Research, Université de Montréal, Recruited

Martin Vallières, Dept. of Computer Science, Université de Sherbrooke, Recruited

Vector Institute (Toronto, Ontario)

Shai Ben-David, School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, Retained

Jakob Foerster, Dept. of Computer & Mathematical Sciences, University of Toronto, Scarborough, Recruited

Animesh Garg, Dept. of Computer Science, University of Toronto, Recruited

Anna Goldenberg, Dept of Computer Science, University of Toronto & Hospital for Sick Children, Retained

Chris Maddison, Dept. of Computer Science, Dept. of Statistical Sciences, University of Toronto, Recruited

Sheila McIlraith, Dept. of Computer Science, University of Toronto, Retained

Gennady Pekhimenko, Depts. of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, Recruited

Toniann Pitassi, Depts. of Computer Science and Mathematics, University of Toronto, Retained

Angela Schoellig, University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, Retained

Yaoliang Yu, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, Retained

List of all Canada CIFAR AI Chairs