The Team

AI Research Dream Team

Tonya Fields, PhD

norfolk state uni

Dr. Tonya Fields, is the Co-Principical Investigator of the AI Institute of Agent-based Cyber Threat Intelligence and Operation (ACTION). She brings together exceptional faculty, renowned experts, and passionate students to tackle complex problems head-on. A Cybersecurity Researcher and Operations Manager in the Cybersecurity Complex at Norfolk State University, she installed operational testbeds within the Cybersecurity Complex Data Center to support research in Big Data Eco Systems – built using Hadoop and Spark clusters Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning – built using NVIDIA V100 GPU High-Performance Computing Clusters Cloud Computing – built using OpenStack Cloud Service. The ACTION Institute develops revolutionary approaches to cybersecurity, in which AI-enabled intelligent security agents cooperate with humans across the cyber-defense life-cycle tasks to jointly improve the security posture of complex computer systems over time. 

Stuart Russell, PhD

Oregon state uni

We envision a long-term symbiotic partnership between AI, Ag, and Human systems that will produce sustained agricultural productivity to meet future food demands. This partnership will also transform the way AI systems are built for complex societal problems in the real world. The AgAID Institute’s mission is to build and foster this partnership and create a transdisciplinary ecosystem for technology innovation and knowledge transfer. Dr. Russell believes The Research University must invest in the dreams and aspirations of individuals and institutions. She recognizes the power of problem solving and aims to provide a platform where people can pursue their passions, explore innovative ideas, and contribute to the betterment of society. By focusing on specific problems and embracing the belief in achievable dreams, AgAID  inspires and guides the future of food.

Xin Liu, PhD

University of California Davis

Co-PI and Co-Lead of Use-Inspired and Foundational AI Cluster: The Artificial Intelligence Institute for Next Generation Food Systems, or AIFS, solves the world’s biggest challenges to crop and food production facing our planet: ensuring a sustainable, nutritious, efficient and safe food supply while mitigating the impacts of climate change. AIFS is a vibrant and forward-thinking institute driven by the conviction that problem solving is the most thrilling and rewarding aspect of life. The institute is dedicated to tackling specific challenges, ranging from the advancements in artificial intelligence to revolutionizing Next Generation Food Systems. She fosters an environment where dreams are nurtured and transformed into achievable goals. Her unwavering belief is that every problem has a solution and every dream is within reach.

Breon Martin

Georgia institute of technology

Emmy winning journalist with more than 7 years of experience in TV news and public relations. Covering AI and STEM education stories at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Breon Thrives on the strength of the Research University’s diverse and vibrant community, which comprises scholars, universities, institutes, organizations, and investors. Each of these communities plays a crucial role in shaping the collaborative and innovative environment that defines AI institutes. He celebrates the unique contributions and shared passion for knowledge that unite participating research universities.

Chinyere Agunwa, PhD

Stanford university

Chinyere Agunwa received a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. Her research interests lie in the development and validation of computational methodologies. She works on machine learning applications.Our network of institutes brings together experts and thought leaders like Dr. Agunwa to fuel groundbreaking research, innovation, and the development of practical solutions. Through AI institutes, she addresses pressing global challenges, leveraging the collective expertise and dedication of peer leading researchers. 

Sonia Chernova, PhD

Georgia institute of technology

Lead Principal Investigator and Executive Director of The AI-CARING Institute which supports older adults, their caregivers, and healthcare providers. Our research focuses on Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and other impairments. She is cultivating an environment that fosters intellectual curiosity, innovation, and active engagement at the AI-CARING Institute where faculty composed of esteemed experts and thought leaders, conduct groundbreaking research, mentor students, inspiring them to push boundaries and explore new frontiers of knowledge to support older adults. 

Dr. Baskar Ganapathysubramanian

Iowa state University

The Principal Investigator/Director of the AI Institute for Resilient Agriculture (AIIRA), Baskar Ganapathysubramanian is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University. His research interests are in the areas of computational mechanics, physics and scientific computing. His lab leverages advances in applied mathematics and high-performance computing to model, design and control real-world physical phenomena. AIIRA will transform agriculture by creating a new AI-driven framework for modeling plants at various agronomically relevant scales. We accomplish this by introducing AI-driven digital twins that fuse diverse data with siloed domain knowledge. We will deploy these twins across ag applications that directly impact the USDA Science Blueprint involving crop improvement and production. These applications require foundational advances in AI. Our strong social science focus will ensure the adoption of AI in ag. We will democratize access to AI tools to the broader research and Ag community.We have envisioned our education and workforce development effort as a pathway that targets learners across all academic levels to develop talent and skills for a highly competent next-generation AI workforce.

Tara Javidi, PhD

Univ. of California, San Diego

AI Research Professor, Tara Javidi is the Co-PI and Networks team co-lead of The Institute for Learning-Enabled Optimization at Scale (TILOS).TILOS is a National Science Foundation funded National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Institute whose mission is to make impossible optimizations possible, at scale and in practice. Our research will pioneer learning-enabled optimizations that transform chip design, robotics, networks and other use domains that are vital to our nation’s health, prosperity and welfare. In  partnership of faculty from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, National University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas at Austin, and Yale University. TILOS will pioneer learning-enabled optimizations that transform chip design, robotics, communication networks, and other use domains that are vital to our nation’s health, prosperity and welfare. Dr. Javidi is also the Research Faculty of Electrical and Computer  Engineering, Founding co-director for the Center for Machine Intelligence,  Computing, and Security. 

Susan Ariel Aaronson, PhD

George Washington University

Research Professor; Director, Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub. Research Faculty and Co-Principal Investigator
of The Institute for Trustworthy AI in Law & Society (TRAILS) which will create new AI technology and advocate for its deployment and use in a way that aligns with the values and interests of diverse groups of people, particularly those that have been previously marginalized in the development process. TRAILS will develop novel methods, metrics and advanced machine learning algorithms that reflect the values and interests of stakeholders.TRAILS will then effectively evaluate how people make sense of AI systems, and the degree to which their levels of reliability, fairness, transparency and accountability can lead to appropriate levels of trust.We will explore how policymakers at all levels in the U.S. and abroad can foster trust in AI systems, as well as how policymakers can incentivize broader participation, accountability, and inclusiveness in the design and deployment of these systems.

Marcelo Worsley, PhD

Northwestern University

NSF National AI Institute for Student-AI Teaming: Marcelo is an Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences and Computer Science at Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy and the McCormick School of Engineering. The goal of Marcelo’s research is to advance society’s understanding of how students learn in complex learning environments by forging new opportunities for using multimodal technology. He endeavors to improve these learning environments by creating multimodal interfaces that promote inclusivity and incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence, and by researching pedagogical strategies that foster transfer. Marcelo recently launched the Technological Innovations for Inclusive Learning and Teaching Lab (TIILT).

Dr. Shaundra (Shani B.) Daily

Duke University

Education and Workforce Development Lead for Athena, an AI institute committed to educating and developing our workforce, cultivating a diverse next generation of technical leaders who will ensure the ethical and fair use of AI. Director of the Diversity in Tech Lab, specializing in developing curricula and technology to broaden participation in STEM fields. Professor of the Practice in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science at Duke University leveraging 20+ years of academic and professional experience to deliver high-quality education, research, and outreach in the fields of data analysis, affective computing, and higher education. My mission is to strengthen STEM advocacy and engagement, especially for marginalized populations. 

Mohit Bansal, PhD

U of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Co-Principal Investigator
of The EngageAI Institute which conducts research on narrative-centered learning technologies, embodied conversational agents, and multimodal learning analytics to create deeply engaging collaborative story-based learning experiences. The institute creates AI-driven narrative-centered learning environments, embodied conversational agents, and multimodal learning analytics through advances in natural language processing, computer vision, and machine learning. Our vision is informed by a nexus of stakeholders to ensure that AI-empowered learning technologies are ethically designed and prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Heng Ji, PhD

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Creating a diverse and inclusive Institute is central to the mission and vision of the AI Research Institute.  We seek opportunities to work with collaborators and partners to ensure the Institute is a diverse and inclusive ecosystem.Dr. Ji is the Director of Amazon-Illinois Center on AI for Interactive Conversational Experiences (AICE)Professor; Executive Committee of The Molecule Maker Lab Institute (MMLI), an AI Institute for Molecular Discovery, Synthesis Strategy, and Manufacturing. Dr. Ji is integrating her broad, deep knowledge and expertise in AI/ML, chemical and biological catalysis, automated synthesizers, and education and outreach at the MMLI, an open ecosystem of disruptive thinking, education, and community engagement powered by state-of-the-art molecular design, synthesis, and spectroscopic characterization technologies – all interfaced with a modern cyberinfrastructure. As a first-of-its-kind addition to the nation’s research infrastructure, MMLI is a powerful component to the research community. Dr. Ji’s research interests focus on Natural Language Processing, especially on Multimedia Multilingual Information Extraction, Knowledge Base Population and Knowledge-driven Generation. 

The MMLI is accelerating, advancing, and democratizing molecular innovation; powerfully enabling more efficient manufacturing and discovery of molecules with important functions; driving the advanced development of a wide range of frontier AI methods; and broadening access to the small molecule making process.

Saura Naderi,

University of California San Diego

Faculty and leadership at The Institute for Learning-Enabled Optimization at Scale (TILOS). Laura Naderi is a dynamic K-14 Outreach Director at The Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute at UC San Diego. She is the Co-founder of Thinkabit Lab at Qualcomm, founder of the mylab program at UC San Diego and a Moonshot Thinker driven by her conviction that problem solving is the most thrilling and rewarding aspect of life. She believes in the TILOS mission: to make impossible optimizations possible, at scale and in practice. Our research will pioneer learning-enabled optimizations that transform chip design, robotics, networks and other use domains that are vital to our nation’s health, prosperity and welfare. If you need help designing exciting and engaging educational experiences, designing  engineering environments and experiences such as Qualcomm’s Thinkabit Lab, founding the first makerspace in your university, creating an employee network of tinkerers , and just for fun designing a viral  robotic dress and leading a team of talented engineers and artists to build it out. Reach out to Laura Naderi!

Prior to joining Qualcomm, Saura worked at UCSD where she developed the myLab program to inspire passion in engineering for K-12 youth. Her mission, and that of the myLab program, was to give aspiring engineers the opportunity to research, design and implement their own ideas. Saura’s most well-known project became known as the “robotic hats project” where students of all ages used Arduino microcontrollers to create robotic hats that move, illuminate and activate through software and hardware development.

Dean Olga Bolden-Tiller


Dean of the College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences (CAENS), Tuskegee University. The Artificial Intelligence for Future Agricultural Resilience, Management, and Sustainability Institute Education and Outreach (AI FARMS). The AIFARMS Institute project is led by the Center for Digital Agriculture. A nexus for  advancing foundational AI  to address important challenges facing world agriculture. Our research covers autonomous farming, efficiency for livestock operations, environmental resilience, soil health, and technology adoption. The research activities in AIFARMS are organized in four AI + Agriculture thrusts and a cross-cutting Technology Adoption thrust. Each of the research thrusts address an important societal need. These thrusts are formulated in terms of broad agricultural goals (both research and production), and the concrete AI challenges that must be solved to achieve these goals. In order to achieve specific agriculture outcomes that require specific “use-inspired” AI advances, the research projects in each thrust will be designed and tested via the iterative research strategy.We will design, develop, evaluate and refine an AI-driven farm, in collaboration with project partners. The farm will be made available to external users from all NSF AI Research Institutes, other researchers, and industry. We will develop tools to monitor, evaluate, and recommend actions to simplify day-to-day caretaker activity and to enable less experienced staff to handle production livestock while improving animal welfare and environmental impact. We will focus on pig production, but the tools will be cross-cutting to other animal production sectors.The AIFARMS Institute will lead a two-pronged approach that involves both research and farmer engagement to understand the incentives for adoption of AI technologies and promote their diffusion.