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CIFAR Azrieli
Global Scholars

Global Scholars - Ajith Parameswaran

Overview

Accelerating the careers of emerging research leaders worldwide

The CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars program provides funding and support to help Scholars build their network and develop essential skills to become the next generation of research leaders. Researchers within the first five years of a full-time academic position from anywhere in the world are eligible to apply.

CIFAR invites exceptional early career researchers to participate in CIFAR's network of nearly 400 researchers from over 16 countries, who together are pursuing answers to some of the most complex challenges facing the world today. The CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars program provides funding, skills training, mentorship, and opportunities to collaborate with outstanding colleagues from diverse disciplines, positioning scholars as research leaders and agents of change.

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars receive:

  •   $100,000 CAD in unrestricted research support
  •   A two-year term in a CIFAR research program, a global network of top-tier research leaders. Learn what it's like to be a CIFAR Fellow
  •   Opportunities to network, collaborate and form a community with colleagues from diverse disciplines
  •   Mentorship from a senior researcher within a CIFAR research program
  •   Specialized leadership and communication skills training, and support to put their skills into action

Submit an application now 

Eligibility

Applicants can be from anywhere in the world, must hold a PhD (or equivalent) and be within the first five years of a full-time academic position. Scholars’ research interests must be aligned with the themes of an eligible CIFAR research program. See the detailed program overview for full eligibility requirements.

NOTE: Postdoctoral fellows are not eligible to apply.

How to apply

All applications are submitted through an online application portal and must include two letters of reference.  See detailed overview of the CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars program for more information. 

Submit an application now 

The 2019 Call for Applications opens on December 3, 2018. The deadline for applications is February 5, 2019. 

Please contact us with any questions.


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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does my research need to be aligned with a CIFAR research program?

Yes, an applicant must apply to participate in one of the five eligible programs accepting Global Scholars in 2019. Eligible programs are listed under Question 2 below. CIFAR’s research programs are described in some depth at: cifar.ca/research. Profiles of participating Fellows and Advisors are also provided with each program description. Applicants are encouraged to make the case for how their research could contribute to a CIFAR research program, and also how their research could benefit from interaction and collaboration with other disciplines represented in the program. CIFAR strongly encourages applicants with diverse backgrounds and perspectives not presently represented in our programs.

2. Which CIFAR research programs are eligible to receive CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar applications?

In 2019, the eligible programs are:


3. What is a CIFAR research program?

CIFAR’s global research programs connect many of the world’s best minds – across borders and between disciplines – to shape new perspectives and spark ground-breaking ideas. By helping innovative pioneers push further, and inspiring young research leaders to join them, CIFAR’s programs are able to expand the boundaries of understanding in ways that would otherwise not be possible.

A central feature of each CIFAR research program is the sustained interaction among its fellows. Each program assembles a unique combination of researchers with different disciplinary perspectives and research approaches to collectively tackle a complex challenge facing the world. Programs hold one to three meetings per year over a five-year, renewable period. Sustained interactions create a “safe” environment that becomes highly conducive to sharing preliminary ideas and sparking innovative new collaborations. Fellows are inspired to think creatively, disruptively and without limitations.

4. Are postdoctoral fellows (or equivalent) eligible for this program?

No. Postdoctoral fellows are not eligible for this program. CIFAR requires applicants to be employed at an institution of higher education or research and be within the first five years of a full-time academic position, including responsibility for both conducting an independent research program and supervising/teaching graduate or postdoctoral trainees. Typically, applicants will be an Assistant Professor (or the equivalent in other academic systems). See the detailed program overview for full eligibility requirements. If you have questions, please contact global.scholars@cifar.ca.

5. If I do not have the title of Assistant Professor, would I be eligible?

CIFAR recognizes that different academic systems around the world assign different titles to junior faculty positions. We welcome junior faculty from all over the world to apply. Applicants requiring assistance to determine their eligibility may contact us by email: global.scholars@cifar.ca.

6. If I was appointed to a full-time faculty position more than five years ago, but I spent a portion of time away on a parental/medical leave, would I be eligible to apply?

Eligible applicants should be appointed to their first full-time faculty position no earlier than May 1, 2014. Applicants who were appointed earlier than May 1, 2014, but who have taken parental leave during this time, will be expected to provide an explanation in their application form as to why they should still be considered for the program. CIFAR reserves the right to make the final determination of eligibility.

7. If I am an early career researcher based in a country outside of Canada, would I be eligible?

CIFAR is seeking to develop a diverse and global cohort. There are no geographical restrictions on who may apply to this program.

8. Do I need to re-locate from my current institute to be part of this program?

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars remain at their home institution and country throughout their two-year term. The research funding associated with the award is administered through the recipient’s institutional department.

9. If I am unable to attend the in-person interview on June 26-27, 2019 in Toronto due to a prior commitment, should I apply?

The interview consists of a series of individual and interactive group activities among invited candidates, taking place over a day and a half. In-person participation is required to ensure a fair and complete evaluation. Applicants unable to attend will not be considered.

10. How will CIFAR support me as a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar?

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars receive:

  •   $100,000 CAD in unrestricted research support
  •   A two-year term in a CIFAR research program, a global network of top-tier research leaders
  •   Opportunities to network and collaborate with like-minded colleagues from diverse disciplines
  •   Mentorship from a senior researcher within a CIFAR research program
  •   Specialized leadership and communications skills training, and support to put skills into action
  •   Annual meetings to network, collaborate and form a community with other Global Scholars

11. What is expected of a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar?

During the two-year term of their award, Global Scholars are expected to:

  •   Attend CIFAR research program meetings (usually 2-3 per year, depending on the program) in Canada and various locations around the world. While at meetings and where appropriate, interact and collaborate with fellow program members on research areas of common interest to the program.
  •   Attend annual CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar meetings (usually in held in early May). CIFAR expects that each scholar will attend two annual meetings.
  •   Report on successes and activities annually, and where possible and appropriate, interact with CIFAR stakeholders and funders to share their experience.
  •   Acknowledge CIFAR as a funder in research publications and presentations supported by the program’s funding, use ‘CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar’ in their professional signature, and indicate CIFAR as an affiliation.

12. How can I use the $100,000 CAD in research support?

The research support aims to enhance a scholar’s capacity to conduct research. CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars are provided these funds over the two years of their term. Possible uses include, but are not limited to: research projects, teaching release, trainee support, conference travel, etc. CIFAR does not support indirect costs.

13. What is the purpose of the annual meeting of Global Scholars?

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars meet annually for activities focused on strengthening core leadership and communication skills. The annual meeting aims to build a community of early career researchers and supports peer-to-peer sharing and collaboration. Over three days, scholars engage in interactive skill-building workshops led by expert facilitators and targeted to early career researchers. Invited guests provide opportunities for cross-sector engagement, mentorship and enhanced learning. Group activities, excursions and session times provide opportunities to explore potential collaborations and develop a peer group.

14. How are applicants selected?

CIFAR is strongly committed to diversity within its community and through the application review and selection process, described below:

  •   Basic Eligibility: CIFAR ensures all applications meet basic eligibility requirements.
  •   Application Review: A CIFAR research program sub-committee, comprised of CIFAR fellows and/or advisors, is assembled for each eligible program. The committee reviews and assesses the applicant based on three criteria: i) research excellence, ii) potential to contribute to a program by adding new and diverse perspectives and approaches that build on or complement existing membership, and iii) leadership potential both within and outside of academia. Each program selection committee shortlists up to 5 candidates per program.
  •   Final In-person Selection: CIFAR invites shortlisted candidates to attend a two-day Selection Meeting in Toronto, Canada on June 26-27, 2019. This meeting consists of a series of individual and interactive group activities. Assessments will be conducted by a diverse committee of researchers from academia and a mix of leaders with expertise in other areas such as policy, communications and leadership. The Selection Committee evaluates and assesses candidates’ capacity, potential and desire to actively engage with peers across a full spectrum of disciplines and their potential to have a broader impact.

15. What has been the success rate of applicants?

This year, each eligible CIFAR research program will be accepting 2 or 3 new CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars. Presently, the CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars program is conducting its fourth annual call for applications.

  •   In 2016, we received 173 eligible applications from 27 countries for 9 research programs. Thirty-five candidates were invited to attend in-person interviews in Toronto, and a total of 18 Global Scholars were selected.
  •   In 2017, we received 445 eligible applications from 48 countries for 11 research programs. Thirty-three shortlisted candidates attended the interview meeting, of whom 15 were selected to become Global Scholars.
  •   In 2018, we received 402 eligible applications from 55 countries for 5 research programs. Twenty shortlisted candidates attended the interview meeting, of whom 12 were selected to become Global Scholars.

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars

  • Adrian Liu

    Adrian Liu

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018
    • McGill University
    • Canada
  • HMB_AlexanderKwarteng

    Alexander Kwarteng

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
    • Ghana
  • BMC_AlonaFyshe

    Alona Fyshe

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • University of Alberta
    • Canada
  • Ami Citri

    Ami Citri

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    • Israel
  • Brian Dias

    Brian Dias

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • Emory University
    • United States
  • HMB_CorinneMauriceScholar

    Corinne Maurice

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • McGill University
    • Canada
  • BMC_CraigChapman

    Craig Chapman

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • University of Alberta
    • Canada
  • GEU_DarylHaggard

    Daryl Haggard

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • McGill University
    • Canada
  • Douglas Fowler

    Douglas Fowler

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • University of Washington
    • United States
  • BSE_GabrielaSchlauCohen

    Gabriela Schlau-Cohen

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • United States
  • Gerhard Kirchmair

    Gerhard Kirchmair

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • University of Innsbruck
    • Austria
  • Giulio Chiribella

    Giulio Chiribella

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • University of Oxford
    • United Kingdom
  • LMB_GrahamTaylor

    Graham Taylor

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • University of Guelph
    • Vector Institute
    • Canada
  • Hannah Carter

    Hannah Carter

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • University of California San Diego
    • United States
  • Hyun Youk

    Hyun Youk

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018
    • Delft University of Technology
    • The Netherlands
  • BSE_JeffreyWarren

    Jeffrey J. Warren

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • Simon Fraser University
    • Canada
  • Jenny Yang

    Jenny Yang

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018
    • University of California Irvine
    • United States
  • Jessica Metcalf

    Jessica L. Metcalf

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018
    • Colorado State University
    • United States
  • LMB_JoelZylberberg

    Joel Zylberberg

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • University of Colorado Denver
    • United States
  • QM_JudyCha

    Judy Cha

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • Yale University
    • United States
  • QM_KateRoss

    Kate A. Ross

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • Colorado State University
    • United States
  • BMC_KatherineMcAuliffe

    Katherine McAuliffe

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • Boston College
    • United States
  • HMB_KatherineAmato

    Katherine R. Amato

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • Northwestern University
    • United States
  • Khanh Huy Bui

    Khanh Huy Bui

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • McGill University
    • Canada
  • Kieran O'Donnell

    Kieran O'Donnell

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • McGill University
    • Canada
  • SS_KristiKenyon

    Kristi Kenyon

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • University of Winnipeg
    • Canada
  • SS_KristinLaurin

    Kristin Laurin

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • University of British Columbia
    • Canada
  • LMB_KyunghyunCho

    Kyunghyun Cho

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • New York University
    • United States
  • Lucina Q. Uddin

    Lucina Q. Uddin

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018
    • University of Miami
    • United States
  • QM_LuyiYang

    Luyi Yang

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • University of Toronto
    • Canada
  • Maria Drout

    Maria R. Drout

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018
    • University of Toronto
    • Canada
  • Mikko Taipale

    Mikko Taipale

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • University of Toronto
    • Canada
  • NaamaGevaZatorsky_webbio

    Naama Geva-Zatorsky

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018
    • Technion
    • Israel
  • IOG_NatalieBau

    Natalie Bau

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • University of California Los Angeles
    • Canada
  • BSE_NathanielGabor

    Nathaniel Gabor

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • University of California Riverside
    • United States
  • QIS_NirBarGill

    Nir Bar-Gill

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    • Israel
  • Ajith Parameswaran

    Parameswaran Ajith

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • International Centre for Theoretical Physics
    • India
  • Prineha Narang

    Prineha Narang

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018
    • Harvard University
    • United States
  • IOG_RaulSanchezdelaSierra

    Raul Sanchez de la Sierra

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016
    • University of California Berkeley
    • United States
  • IOG_SaraLowes

    Sara Lowes

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • Bocconi University
    • Italy
  • Sarah Burke-Spolaor

    Sarah Burke-Spolaor

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018
    • West Virginia University
    • United States
  • QIS_ThomasVidick

    Thomas Vidick

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017
    • California Institute of Technology
    • United States
  • Yaniv Ziv

    Yaniv Ziv

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018
    • Weizmann Institute of Science
    • Israel
  • Yogi Surendranath

    Yogesh Surendranath

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • United States
  • Yue Wa

    Yue Wan

    • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018
    • Genome Institute of Singapore
    • Singapore
  • News about CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars

    • News
    • Learning in Machines & Brains

    CIFAR Summer School brings together the next generation of AI researchers

    by Juanita Bawagan
    Sep 18 / 18
    SummerSchool(Credit: CIFAR/ Vector Institute)

    More than 250 students from 20 countries attended the summer school

    At the Vector AI Job & Data Fair, the auditorium is packed with hundreds of the top AI students from around the world. They’ve come to attend the Deep Learning & Reinforcement Learning Summer School in Toronto and this is the marquee event. With company booths set up for tech firms, industry labs and research hospitals, conversations tonight could be the start of solving major questions in healthcare, finance and beyond.

    But the greatest draw is the three AI pioneers who are about to take the stage – Geoffrey Hinton, Yoshua Bengio and Richard Sutton. The CIFAR fellows are considered the godfathers of AI and need no introduction to this crowd.

    These three scientists inspired many of the graduate and post-graduate students in the room to pursue careers in AI research in Canada or to come from abroad to attend the summer school.

    Geoffrey Hinton
    Geoffrey Hinton speaks with students at the Vector AI Job & Data Fair. (Credit: CIFAR/ Vector Institute)

    Hinton began his talk with the history of neural networks – an area of AI inspired by the human brain. For a long time, neural networks were brushed aside even by other AI researchers.

    “The AI people wanted to solve reasoning while the neural net people wanted to solve biology,” said Hinton. “It was a battle that went on for 60 years.”

    Hinton and his colleagues persevered and as computing power improved, neural nets began to work and ushered in the deep learning revolution.

    It’s happening now,” says Sutton. “And it’s happening here in Canada. Isn’t that amazing?

    In 2017, the Government of Canada announced a $125-million Pan-Canadian AI Strategy led by CIFAR. The strategy supported the creation of three new AI institutes – Amii in Edmonton, the Vector Institute in Toronto and MILA in Montreal – that build on the hubs of expertise Hinton, Bengio and Sutton established in machine learning over decades.

    As global interest in AI intensifies, the summer school remains a unique and important place for the next generation of AI researchers.

    It was perhaps best exemplified as Hinton, Bengio and Sutton answered questions from students. Hinton shared his new thoughts on thought, Bengio weighed the benefits of academia and industry and Sutton shared his vision of the future of AI. Their advice was candid, funny and felt as intimate as the smaller summer schools of years past.

    Graham Taylor at the AI Summer School
    CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar kicks off the summer school, which ran from July 25 to August 3, 2018

    The first NCAP CIFAR summer school

    In 2005, CIFAR’s Learning in Machines & Brains program (then known as Neural Computation & Adaptive Perception) hosted its first summer school. It brought together CIFAR fellows and their trainees from Canada, Israel, Finland, Scotland, and the U.S.

    Hinton wanted to model the summer school on the Connectionist Summer Schools he had organized with CIFAR Advisor Terry Sejnowski, which were influential in the development of neural network research. At the time, deep learning approaches had not yet made it into mainstream university curricula and were not well represented at AI conferences. The school’s goal was two-fold: advance research and foster the next generation of AI scientists.

    With the 2018 Deep Learning & Reinforcement Learning Summer School, it’s clear both goals have been surpassed wildly. The summer school has grown from a small meeting of about 30 researchers to a class of more than 250 students from 20 countries. This cohort was selected from a pool of 1200 applicants and represents some of the most highly sought after researchers in the world.

    The summer school has changed from when CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar Graham Taylor attended as a PhD student, but he says that it’s still focused on the same things.

    At its core is the technical curriculum and the exposure to new approaches. The summer school boasts an all-star lineup of professors from the AI institutes, industry labs and universities like MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell and Princeton.

    “I think it was really important for students to make that personal connection to some of the mentors they had seen in videos before or maybe they had read their textbook. But now they have a chance to meet them face-to-face,” said Taylor, who is a faculty member at the Vector Institute and the University of Guelph.

    Meeting fellow students is just as important, he says, noting that he met some of the people who he collaborates with now at the summer school.

    Alumni of the summer school can be found leading the top universities and tech firms. Past attendees include Roland Memsivic, who founded TwentyBN, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, who is now Director of AI Research at Apple, and Ilya Sutskever, who co-founded OpenAI.

    Many of this year’s organizing committee are alumni success stories themselves. CIFAR Program Co-Director Hugo Larochelle attended the first summer school as Bengio’s student at Université de Montréal. Now he is Research Scientist at Google Brain and Adjunct Professor at Université de Sherbrooke. He and Taylor share similarities in their academic careers: moves to the U.S. and return to Canada as passionate champions of its ecosystem.

    Students at the CIFAR Summer School
    The Vector AI Job & Data Fair featured approximately 30 companies and health partners who are expanding their AI presence in Canada. (Credit: CIFAR/ Vector Institute)

    The next generation

    The next generation of AI researchers are building their own stories. Some of them are students who decide to stay in Canada, others are coming from abroad to study at Canadian institutions, and some will work around the world.

    The talks by students offered a glimpse of the future. Farzaneh Mahdisoltani, a PhD student at the Vector Institute and AI researcher at TwentyBN, presented her work on deep learning and video understanding. She showcased her research on a new dataset which helps computers differentiate between videos of very similar actions like putting an object down or pretending to put an object down.

    I think people will really remember that Canada was at the frontier of it.

    Even in the talks of three students a wide range of research areas and experience from at least eight of the top institutions in Armenia, Canada, England, Iran and the U.S. were represented.

    Canada and the summer school have long been a beacon for global AI talent. The hope now is that with greater opportunities and a thriving ecosystem, even more students will see Canada as a place to advance their education and pursue careers.

    For Thor Jonsson, Canada’s reputation led him to move from Iceland to study deep learning. He is a Master’s student with Taylor at the University of Guelph and plans to do a PhD in Canada.

    Jonsson said he has been inspired by the Canadian AI ecosystem and believes the future is even brighter.

    “I think people will look back in 100 years’ time and think about this as a historical event in scientific history,” he says.

    This program is generously supported by the Azrieli Foundation and the Love Family Leadership Development Fund.

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