Thanks to DeepMind scholarships, talented computer science students are driving the future of AI

April 27, 2021 by A&S News

Meet the first four recipients of the new DeepMind graduate scholarships in the Department of Computer Science at the Faculty of Arts & Science. Established by U.K.-based artificial intelligence (AI) company DeepMind, the scholarship program aims to support under-represented students specializing in artificial intelligence.

“We want AI to be an inclusive technology, and that means it must be shaped by a range of different perspectives,” said Obum Ekeke, University and Educational Partnerships lead at DeepMind, when the scholarships were announced last fall. “The DeepMind scholarship program is one way we seek to broaden participation in the field. We look forward to welcoming our scholars in Toronto, and can’t wait to see how they contribute to U of T’s world-class research offering.”

Learn more about the University of Toronto’s inaugural DeepMind scholars below.

Aparna Balagopalan

Aparna Balagopalan is just as interested in how humans interact with machines as she is in building codes and algorithms, and it shows in her work. The first-year PhD student is focused on what she calls a “human centring or grounding” of AI applications, and is concentrating on research and development of machine learning systems that doctors and other health care professionals can reliably trust.

Gabriela Morgenshtern

Gabriela Morgenshtern is so passionate about fostering inclusivity in science, technology, engineering and math that — as a volunteer mentor at the free computer science HER CODE CAMP for senior high schoolers — she recently led her team of young women to victory in a coding competition. The Master of Science student is researching the human factor in data system design and visualization, so it fits seamlessly into health care and empowers clinicians to make informed decisions.

Skylar Hao

How do scientists test AI-fueled technology, such as self-driving cars, while prioritizing safety? For Master of Science student Skylar Hao, whose research focuses on the intersection of machine learning and robotics, the answer lies in an algorithm that bridges the gap between simulation and reality, allowing machine learning agents to train in simulated environments before safely transitioning to real life.

Lana El Sanyoura

After earning her degree in computer science and cognitive science from U of T last June, Lana El Sanyoura was one of four students invited to Ottawa by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to deliver an address to graduating students across Canada. Now a Master of Science student, she is researching the impact of AI systems on society with the goal of ultimately developing more ethical, human-centric machine learning algorithms.