Director's Message to UMIACS

New scientific discoveries. Recognition by our peers in the form of awards and fellowships. Significant funding from internal and external sources. Numerous papers presented at major conferences.

One could gather from reading our newsletter that UMIACS does technology very well. But my faith—and a tremendous amount of pride—is in the common denominator that ties these benchmarks together: the people in UMIACS.

To that end, we should acknowledge the announcement from the University of Maryland regarding its $30 million Grand Challenges Grants Program. Twenty-two UMIACS faculty representing eight academic departments are involved in these projects. A philosopher working with artificial intelligence experts; a concert violinist working with computer vision specialists; computational biologists working with faculty in engineering and agriculture—these Grand Challenges Grants certainly exemplify our commitment to interdisciplinary research.

You could say the same about the feature article highlighting our five new affiliate faculty—Maria Molina, Katie Shilton, Megan Fritz, Sanghamitra Dutta and Irina Muresanu. They are talented researchers with diverse academic backgrounds, who are committed to interdisciplinary science both within UMIACS and beyond. I look forward to working with these new faculty in the coming year to advance their collaborative efforts within our institute.

A final thought, and it’s not insignificant, is the strength we have in human-centered research and scholarship. We’re all aware of the rapidly changing landscape in artificial intelligence (AI), and the ongoing debate in science and society of how AI can at times be biased and untrustworthy. I fully expect our expertise and impact in this field to grow significantly. Starting with active participation by UMIACS faculty Hal Daumé, Katie Shilton, John Horty, Tom Goldstein, Furong Huang, Vanessa Frias-Martinez, Jordan Boyd-Graber and many others—we have a core group of experts who will make the University of Maryland a national leader in human-centered AI.

Our future looks bright. And it's the people in UMIACS that make this possible. Thank you for the work you do.

Mihai Pop, UMIACS Director