Acclaimed researchers appointed as co-leads at P1

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On 1 March 2023, Isabelle Augenstein and Sebastian Weichwald were appointed as co-leads in the Pioneer Centre for Artificial Intelligence also known as P1. As co-leads they will help set the tone for the next ground-breaking research to be conducted within the centre.

P1 has added two acclaimed researchers to its roster, with Isabelle Augenstein appointed as the new co-lead of the Speech and Language (SL) collaboratory and Sebastian Weichwald taking on the role as co-lead of the Causality and Explainability (CX) collaboratory. They are leading researchers in natural language processing and causal modelling, respectively.

Denmark’s youngest female professor

Professor Isabelle Augenstein is an acclaimed researcher in natural language processing whose research focuses on developing methods for detecting false information online using automated fact-checking, and explainable AI, revealing the inner workings of deep neural network-based machine learning models. She was appointed Professor at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Copenhagen in October 2022, making her the youngest female professor in Denmark. She will now succeed Professor Anders Søgaard as a co-lead of the SL collaboratory – something she is looking forward to.   

 – The Pioneer Centre offers a unique opportunity to explore moon-shot ideas due to its large scale and long-time frame. I am looking forward to discussing research ideas with others in the SL collaboratory as well as across collaboratories, and to see what new collaborations and blue-skies research will emerge from the Pioneer Centre, especially research addressing societal challenges such as misinformation. I also hope that events organised as part of the SL collaboratory will enable knowledge sharing within the speech and language processing community in Denmark, which is distributed across several universities and research groups, Isabelle Augenstein says.  

Expert in pragmatic causal modelling

Likewise, Assistant Professor Sebastian Weichwald from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Copenhagen is thrilled to take on the role of co-lead in the CX collaboratory and to join forces with the two accomplished CX co-leads Ira Assent and Aasa Feragen. Sebastian Weichwald is known for his research on pragmatic causal modelling and for developing and improving statistical and machine learning methods for analysing complex data and addressing practical issues in fields such as neuroimaging, medicine and environmental science. With his appointment as co-lead, he will take over from Professor Jonas Peters.  

– I am thrilled to join two experts in the field, Ira and Aasa, to drive activities in the CX collaboratory and to further explore how causal modelling and abstraction can help us explain complex machine learning models and predict effects of interventions. New powerful machine learning solutions are being developed and deployed day by day. Where models are used at scale or for critical decisions, we need not only accurate predictions but also explanations of these model predictions and guarantees on model behaviour in new environments or under (perhaps even malicious) user interventions, Sebastian Weichwald says. 

New perspectives to push the boundaries of AI research

As co-leads, Isabelle Augenstein and Sebastian Weichwald will lead research efforts in their respective areas, mentor PhD students and postdocs, plan projects and funding opportunities, and help attract new talent to Denmark. They will also be involved in planning different courses and other educational activities as well as collaborations with public institutions, industry, and start-ups. According to the centre’s Director, Professor Serge Belongie, the addition of young, acclaimed researchers like Isabelle Augenstein and Sebastian Weichwald is key to driving groundbreaking research, boosting international research impact, and pushing the boundaries of AI in Denmark.  

– From the inception of the Pioneer Centre for AI, we carefully selected co-leads who were leading researchers in their respective fields. However, the intention was always to continuously bring in new, young researchers who can help set the tone for the next ground-breaking research to be created within the Pioneer Centre. Our goal is to foster a culture of innovation and collaboration, and we believe that by bringing in new perspectives, we can continue to push the boundaries of Danish AI research. I am therefore delighted that we have brought Isabelle Augenstein and Sebastian Weichwald on board, says Serge Belongie, Director of the Pioneer Centre for AI.