Six McGill researchers named Canada CIFAR AI (CCAI) Chairs

Top academic researchers will help maintain Canada’s leadership in artificial intelligence research

The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) today announced the inaugural cohort of 29 Canada CIFAR AI (CCAI) Chairs, including six from McGill. These top academic researchers – including Doina Precup (pictured, left) and Joëlle  Pineau (pictured, right) – are named as part of the $125 million Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, and will help maintain Canada’s leadership in artificial intelligence research. The CCAI Chair Program represents an investment of $30 million at nine universities across the country.

Chairs are nominated by and will be affiliated with the Montreal-based national AI Institute, Mila. An international scientific advisory committee, including representatives from Google, DeepMind, Microsoft, Facebook, Stanford, Princeton, and the French National Center for Scientific Research, reviewed the CCAI Chairs. McGill Professors joining Pineau and Precup as CCAI Chairs are Marc Bellemare, Jackie Cheung, Blake Richards, and Reihaneh Rabbany. McGill’s Chairs will work collaboratively with colleagues from Université de Montreal, including Yoshua Bengio, Scientific Director of Mila, as well as Jian Tang from HEC Montréal.

“McGill has made a strategic commitment to research in AI, and specifically machine learning. As Canada CIFAR AI Chairs, McGill’s research talent will apply their expertise in diverse areas, such as robotics and automated dialog systems as well as life sciences, medical imaging, clinical monitoring, and various other domains of scientific, social and commercial interest. – Martha Crago, Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation

In 2017, CIFAR was chosen by the federal government to lead the $125 million Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy in collaboration with artificial intelligence research centres in Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto. Support for the CCAI Chairs is one part of a larger strategy that includes training opportunities, research funding, and workshops on the societal implications of AI designed to build on Canadian leadership in the field.

We are excited about these outstanding researchers taking up Canada CIFAR AI Chairs across the country. The Pan-Canadian AI Strategy has enabled us to retain those who laid the groundwork for AI and attract top scientists to Canada from abroad. This is a major step forward for Canada and an essential foundation for growing Canada’s global leadership in AI research and innovation. – Alan Bernstein, President and CEO of CIFAR

Of the 29 named Chairs, about half of the chairs are taking up their first faculty positions in Canada, and received training all over the world, including in the US, China, Iran and France. They work on a wide variety of applied and theoretical topics, including natural language processing, image recognition, reinforcement learning, cryptography, convolutional networks and medical diagnosis.

Complete list of McGill and collaborating Chairs affiliated with Mila – Montreal 

Marc Bellemare, Research Scientist, Google Brain; CIFAR Fellow, Program in Learning in Machines and Brains; Adjunct Professor, McGill University

Yoshua Bengio, Scientific Director, Mila; Canada Research Chair in Statistical Learning Algorithms; Professor, Université de Montréal; Co-Director, CIFAR Program in Learning in Machines and Brains

Jackie Cheung, Assistant Professor, McGill University

Aaron Courville, Associate Professor, Université de Montréal; CIFAR Fellow, Program in Learning in Machines and Brains

Simon Lacoste-Julien, Assistant Professor,Université de Montréal; CIFAR Fellow, Program in Learning in Machines and Brains

Hugo Larochelle, Research Scientist, Google Brain; Adjunct Professor, Université de Montréal; Associate Director, CIFAR Program in Learning in Machines and Brains

Ioannis Mitliagkis, Assistant Professor, Université de Montréal

Christopher Pal, Associate Professor, École Polytechnique de Montréal; Adjunct Professor, Université de Montréal; Principal Research Scientist, Element AI

Joelle Pineau, Associate Professor, McGill University; CIFAR Senior Fellow, Program in Learning in Machines and Brains; Research Scientist and Site Lead, Facebook AI Research, Montreal

Doina Precup, Associate Professor, McGill University; CIFAR Senior Fellow, Program in Learning in Machines and Brains; Associate Scientific Director, Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives CFREF; Research Team Lead, DeepMind, Montreal

Blake Richards, Faculty Associate, Vector Institute; Assistant Professor, McGill University CIFAR Fellow, Program in Learning in Machines and Brains

Reihaneh Rabbany, Assistant Professor, McGill University

Jian Tang, Assistant Professor, HEC Montréal

Pascal Vincent, Associate Professor, Université de Montréal; Research Scientist, Facebook AI Research, Montreal; CIFAR Associate Fellow, Program in Learning in Machines and Brains