TAU and Google launch multidisciplinary research program in artificial intelligence

Collaboration aims to benefit sustainability and education

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Google and Tel Aviv University (TAU) are continuing their collaboration and launching a new program for the promotion of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science research through a Center for AI and Data Science at TAU (TAD). The center will be headed by Professor Meir Feder of TAU’s School of Electrical Engineering and will receive financial support of $1M from Google.

The new three-year program is focused mainly on AI research for sustainability and for education. The launch event, which was held on May 1, 2023, included a ceremony to announce grant awardees who were selected by the grant committee following a call for research proposals.

The TAU faculty members who won the grants come from diverse fields, from environmental studies and life sciences to engineering and education. In addition, three fellowships in the fields of AI were awarded to graduate students from underrepresented groups in academia. The winning students come from the disciplines of computer science, zoology, and education.

“Several years ago we began a fruitful collaboration with Google, led by Professor Yossi Matias,” TAU President Professor Ariel Porat said at the May 1 ceremony. “The purpose of this partnership is to boost the contribution of AI to the improvement of human society and the world we live in.

“In this new program, we place the focus on utilizing AI tools to advance sustainability and education. Sustainability is absolutely critical to the continued existence of humanity, while education is crucial to the health of our society. TAU excels in both of these areas, and collaboration with Google will strengthen them even further.”

”We have great opportunities to use AI to make a significant positive impact in many areas, and I’m excited about our continued investments in driving for positive change in sustainability and education,” said Professor Yossi Matias, VP of Engineering and Research at Google. “Through our continued and expanded partnership with TAU and its Center for AI and Data Science, we hope to join together industrial and academic research to advance science and technology in these critical areas for humanity and society.  We are also committed to continuing our efforts to make academia and industry more inclusive for all segments of society.”

Professor Feder thanked Google for the ongoing collaboration and the support in these important fields of AI research at TAU. “Both sustainability and education are topics of growing interest and AI can greatly advance these areas for the benefit of the environment and society in general. AI can help to address some of the biggest challenges such as innovate teaching and learning for all, climate change, water resources, renewable energy, biodiversity, and more.

“The collaboration with Google helps in another very important goal of the center, the support of underrepresented groups in the field of AI in academia and promote diversity and inclusive environment at the university. We are happy to join forces to promote all these important aspects.”  

Google had previously developed a mentoring program with ExactShe, established by Professor Tova Milo, Dean of TAU’s Faculty of Exact Sciences. Through the program, female Google volunteers will mentor female students from the Faculty to create a supportive community and help them integrate into the research community and the industry.

As part of the long-standing partnership, TAD and Google held joint seminars in the last couple of years in the fields of AI for the Environment, and Health and AI. Led by Dr. Deborah Cohen, Senior Scientist at Google Research, and Dr. Shiri Stempler, Director of Research Collaborations at TAD, the meetings included talks by researchers from both TAU and Google who presented established results as well as work in progress and provided a platform to advance connections between academia and industry.

"The purpose of this partnership is to boost the contribution of AI to the improvement of human society and the world we live in."