Presidential Interdisciplinary Faculty Hiring Initiative in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence

The University of Georgia has launched an ambitious initiative to recruit 50 faculty members with expertise in applying data science and artificial intelligence to some of society’s most urgent challenges.

Rather than being housed exclusively in a single department, the majority of UGA’s newly recruited faculty will focus on the fusion of data science and AI in cross-cutting areas such as infectious diseases, integrative precision agriculture, ethics, cybersecurity, resilient communities, and the environment.

President Morehead“At the University of Georgia, we are constantly seeking opportunities to expand our impact on society, to solve complex challenges, and to shape the future. This strategic hiring initiative will enable us to do that while building on our excellence in teaching, research, and service.”
- President Jere W. Morehead

The cluster hiring initiative, scheduled for completion over a two-year period, stems from the work of the Task Force on Academic Excellence charged by Provost S. Jack Hu shortly after he joined UGA in 2019. Composed of faculty and academic leaders across campus, the task force examined the university’s areas of strength and opportunity to guide strategic investments that maximize the institution’s impact.

The 50 new faculty hires will be recruited in eight interdisciplinary clusters that focus on broad themes. Details on each of the clusters are below.

Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, and the Dynamics of Infectious Diseases

The University’s Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases (CEID) and Institute of Bioinformatics (IOB) are recognized globally for their contributions to disease ecology, epidemiology, and evolution. UGA is especially strong in the areas of pathogen spillover, the modeling of transmission and interventions, and spatial spread. The recruitment of faculty with expertise in epidemic forecasting, biosurveillance, and the use of artificial intelligence for fitting dynamical systems, agent-based modeling, and multi-scale modeling of disease transmission will build on the University’s recognized and multidisciplinary expertise in infectious diseases.

Details and Position Postings

Contact
John Drake, Distinguished Research Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Odum School of Ecology (jdrake@uga.edu)

Additional links
Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Department of Statistics
Institute of Bioinformatics
Odum School of Ecology
School of Chemical, Materials, and Biomedical Engineering

Environmental Artificial Intelligence

Understanding ecosystem resiliency in the face of sea-level rise, increasingly extreme weather events, and ocean warming and acidification is one of the most challenging and pressing research problems of our time, with vast implications for decision-makers and the general public in adapting to and mitigating environmental change. Artificial Intelligence is at the forefront of geoscience research and the interactions of atmospheric, terrestrial, and oceanic processes. The Environmental AI cluster will leverage a deep base of faculty expertise, and the wide-ranging big datasets they hold, to move UGA to the forefront of AI-driven research on ecosystem resiliency.

Details and Position Postings

Contact
Daniela Di Iorio, Professor and Head, Department of Marine Sciences (daniela@uga.edu)

Related links
Department of Anthropology
Department of Geography
Department of Marine Sciences
Department of Statistics

Ethics, Data, and AI

The pervasive applications of AI and Data Science have brought ethical considerations to the forefront, including issues of bias, fairness, accountability, deception, opacity, privacy and related technical, governance, regulatory, and policy approaches. The Ethics, Data, and AI cluster involves collaboration among the departments of Philosophy, Management Information Systems, Computer Science, Theater and Film Studies, the Lamar Dodd School of Art, as well as the Institute for Artificial Intelligence. The cluster aims to advance the understanding of such social, philosophical, and ethical issues and to catalyze multi-disciplinary research on ethical AI and Data Science. 

Position postings: To come

Contacts
Elena Karahanna, C. Herman and Mary Virginia Terry Distinguished Chair of Business Administration and Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Management Information Systems, Terry College of Business (ekarah@uga.edu)

Aaron Meskin, Professor and Head, Department of Philosophy, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences (aaron.meskin@uga.edu)

Related links
Department of Computer Science
Department of Philosophy
Department of Theatre and Film Studies
Institute for Artificial Intelligence
Lamar Dodd School of Art
Department of Management Information Systems

Integrative Precision Agriculture Center of Excellence

Agriculture is Georgia’s largest industry, and the size and diversity of the state’s agricultural sector make it unique in the nation. Integrative Precision Agriculture, the application of digital technologies, big data, and AI to improve the agricultural value chain through better decision-making and site-specific field operations, holds considerable promise for sustainably feeding a growing global population. Building on its existing research strength in this area, the University of Georgia is conducting a cluster hire to fill nine tenure-track or tenured faculty positions in Integrative Precision Agriculture, of which at least four are being recruited for a target start date of August 2022. Outstanding candidates who can contribute significantly to the application of digital agriculture technologies, data analytics, or models for the sustainable intensification of cropping, plantation forestry, or livestock systems relevant to the southeastern U.S. are especially encouraged to apply.

Position posting
Faculty Cluster Hire in Integrative Precision Agriculture (Open Rank)

Contacts
Jaime Camelio, Professor and Associate Dean for Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, College of Engineering (jcamelio@uga.edu)

Harald Scherm, Professor and Head, Department of Plant Pathology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (scherm@uga.edu)

Related links
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
College of Engineering

Machine Learning Applications in Cyber-Physical Systems Security

The increasing reliance on Cyber-Physical Systems—which integrate computation, networking, and physical processes—opens up critical needs for improvements in both their fundamental implementations and the methods by which we maintain their security. This cluster enables growth in specialties that support the development of high-impact research in CPSS and the training of future students who are prepared to contribute to the workforce needs in this area. It helps keep UGA at the forefront of Cyber Physical Systems Security research and ensures that it can continue to produce the engineers and computer scientists that serve as the core workforce for the design, development and deployment of CPSSs.

Position postings: To come

Contact
Thirimachos Bourlai, Associate Professor, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Engineering (thirimachos.bourlai@uga.edu)

Related links
School of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Precision One Health Initiative

The Precision One Health Initiative seeks to utilize artificial intelligence (AI), data science, machine learning, and more traditional methods to understand how genetics, the environment, and lifestyle inform the most efficacious approaches to prevent and treat diseases of humans and animals. A total of 16 faculty members will be recruited, with eight joining UGA in fall 2022 and the remaining eight joining UGA in fall 2023. Research will focus on three pillars of infectious and non-infectious disease management: Pillar 1 – pathogenesis and diagnostics; Pillar 2 – health promotion and disease prevention; and Pillar 3 – therapeutic intervention. The goal is to design optimal preventive or therapeutic care that prevents disease and, if needed, provides the individual patient (human or animal) with the right medical approach at the right time. The initiative follows a bench to bedside to community paradigm, using basic and applied research to lay the foundation of knowledge needed to develop improved preventive, diagnostic, and treatment tools and protocols that translate into more refined approaches to improving the health of individual persons and animals.

Key areas of the Precision One Health Initiative will include: 

  • Prevention: developing and implementing best practices for maintaining health and preventing disease;
  • Surveillance: clarifying the ecological drivers of vector and host disease transmission to optimize disease surveillance, mitigation strategies, and in situ treatment options;
  • Screening: screening persons or animals to identify traits associated with disease pathogenesis and markers that predict disease susceptibility, disease severity, and health outcomes; 
  • Diagnostics: using these traits and markers to develop diagnostic screening tests; and 
  • Application to Individuals and Communities: leveraging these traits to prevent ‘at risk’ individuals from developing the disease, or to allow individuals to more effectively manage health using behavioral interventions, molecularly guided treatments, and novel drugs.  

Position postings (links to come): 

Antimicrobial Drug Discovery – College of Pharmacy and College of Veterinary Medicine (Assistant Professor)

Cognitive Aging – College of Public Health and Institute of Gerontology (Associate or Full Professor)

Diagnostic Bioinformatics – College of Veterinary Medicine (Open Rank)

Emerging Infectious Disease Predictions – Savanah River Ecology Laboratory and College of Veterinary Medicine (Assistant Professor)

Emerging Infectious Disease Predictions – College of Veterinary Medicine and Savanah River Ecology Laboratory (Open Rank)

Health Promotion and Behavior – College of Public Health and Institute of Gerontology (Associate or Full Professor)

Pharmaceutical Health Services, Outcomes and Policy – College of Pharmacy (Open Rank)

Systems Physiology and Pharmacology – College of Engineering (Open Rank)

Contact
Sharron S. Quisenberry, Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty and Graduate Affairs, College of Veterinary Medicine, Precision One Health Liaison (sharron.quisenberry@uga.edu)

Related links
College of Engineering
College of Pharmacy
College of Public Health
College of Veterinary Medicine
Institute of Gerontology
Savanah River Ecology Laboratory

Resilient Infrastructure for Sustainability and Equity (RISE)

The increasing threats to communities and livelihoods caused by aging infrastructure, urbanization, and climatic changes are well known; however, the rate of progress and effectiveness of adaptation measures are not keeping pace with the increasing risks. The Resilient Infrastructure for Sustainability and Equity (RISE) interdisciplinary cluster will unite and catalyze strengths in data science, transportation engineering, Engineering With Nature, environmental and atmospheric sciences, public service and outreach, public administration, law, and policy to establish UGA as an international leader in smart and resilient infrastructure systems that protect people, their livelihoods, and their communities from severe weather impacts, climate change, unsafe or degraded infrastructure, and other hazards.

Position postings: To come

Contact
Jenna Jambeck, Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering (jjambeck@uga.edu)

Related links
College of Engineering

Secure AI Systems for Biomedical Applications

Machine learning applications to biomedical data have the potential to enable breakthroughs of exceptional benefit to society. However, research in this area is hindered by the fact that biomedical data is often highly sensitive and cannot be easily shared among researchers, especially in the case when projects span multiple institutions such as universities and hospitals. In addition, biomedical datasets are often massive, diverse and of varying quality, making it difficult to efficiently learn from them. The Secure AI Systems for Biomedical Applications cluster will advance fundamental research that enables secure, privacy-preserving and highly scalable machine learning over sensitive data.

Position posting
Tenure-Track Assistant or Associate Professor in Computer Vision

Contact
Roberto Perdisci, Patty and D.R. Grimes Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Director, Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy (perdisci@uga.edu)

Related links
Department of Computer Science
Department of Mathematics
Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy

 

Provost Hu“This hiring initiative builds on the expertise of our existing faculty and leverages our strength as a comprehensive research institution with a land- and sea-grant mission of service. It will give students new learning opportunities while sparking transformative discoveries.”
- Provost S. Jack Hu

 

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