Anatole von Lilienfeld joins the Acceleration Consortium as the first Clark Chair in Advanced Materials Discovery

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Machine learning and physical chemistry specialist Anatole von Lilienfeld was named the first holder of the Clark Chair in Advanced Materials at the Vector Institute and the University of Toronto, and became a key faculty member of the Acceleration Consortium.

As a leading expert in the development of novel approaches to rapidly predicting the behavior of chemical compounds, von Lilienfeld will support the Acceleration Consortium’s goal of revolutionizing the field of materials science. The Acceleration Consortium, based in the Faculty of Arts in partnership with the Faculty of Applied Sciences and Engineering and the Vice President’s Department of Research and Innovation, is a global coalition of science, industry and government, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, to create the To accelerate the design and discovery of materials that do not yet exist.

“I am delighted to be part of this extraordinary community of researchers at the University of Toronto and to contribute to the Acceleration Consortium’s remarkable commitment to excellence in the application of artificial intelligence in the chemical sciences,” said von Lilienfeld. “The drive to digitize chemistry is great and requires many team players, and the Acceleration Consortium is becoming a perfect framework for this effort.”

Currently full professor at the Faculty of Physics at the University of Vienna and previously associate professor for physical chemistry at the University of Basel, von Lilienfeld brings expertise in the development and application of machine learning methods that facilitate the design and discovery of new materials with the help of quantum mechanics, Big Data, Statistical Mechanics, and Computing.

“Anatole is considered to be one of the visionaries and pioneers in using computers to understand the vastness of chemical space,” said Alán Aspuru-Guzik, Director of the Acceleration Consortium and University Professor of Chemistry and Computer Science. “I am delighted that Anatole is coming here to develop U of T as a global competence center in the field of AI for molecules and materials.”

The Clark Chair is made possible by a generous gift from the long-time U of T donor Edmund Clark, with additional support from the Faculty of Philosophy and the Faculty of Applied Sciences and Engineering. The donation from Clark embodies his longstanding commitment to both supporting excellence in teaching and research at U of T, as well as recognizing the potential of AI to transform global society in countless ways.

“Canadians expect the Acceleration Consortium and the Vector Institute to address the immense challenges that affect their lives by advancing the discovery of new materials for greener products, green energy and better medicine, among other industrial applications,” said Clark. Chairman of the Board of the Vector Institute and former President and CEO of the TD Bank Group. “We are very pleased to welcome Anatole von Lilienfeld in this role as he will be of enormous importance to the consortium’s ability to achieve this goal.”

Fran and Edmund Clark are U of T alumni and long-time supporters of the university.

As the founding chairman of the Vector Institute, Clark is passionate about advancing the use of artificial intelligence and improving machine research and development. He has long recognized the need to create the conditions to nurture and attract a critical mass of top AI minds.

“We are grateful to Ed Clark for establishing this chair and investing continuously in education and research,” said Melanie Woodin, Dean of the Philosophical Faculty. “This realization of his vision shows his commitment to cement Canada’s position as a leader in machine learning and deep learning. With Anatole assuming this role, we are only deepening the strength of U of T in artificial intelligence-based research across a variety of disciplines. “

Von Lilienfeld will play a key role in helping the Acceleration Consortium achieve its goal of reducing the time and cost of developing new materials from 20 years and $ 100 million to just one year and $ 1 million to reduce.

“Von Lilienfeld promises to rethink problems and develop high-performance solutions much faster than with conventional approaches,” says Professor Robert Batey, Chair of the Chemistry Department, who made a significant contribution to attracting von Lilienfeld to the U of T. “With his expertise, we will propose, manufacture and test new materials much faster.”

Lilienfeld’s appointment to the U of T is shared by the Faculty of Chemistry of the Philosophical Faculty and the Faculty of Materials Science and Technology of the Faculty of Applied Sciences and Engineering. He will also be affiliated with the Physics Department and be a Trinity College Fellow.

“This multidisciplinary appointment embodies the transfer of knowledge across profound subject areas at the U of T,” said Chris Yip, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences and Engineering. “The partnership enables faculty members and students from not just engineering and the arts and sciences, but across the university and beyond to work together and address key global challenges.”

With this appointment, von Lilienfeld also joins a community of researchers at the Vector Institute as a Vector Faculty member and offers further opportunities for the exchange of ideas within a group of dynamic and innovative problem solvers who are interdisciplinary in both curious and applied research in AI.

“I am excited to welcome Anatole to the Vector Institute and the University of Toronto ecosystem,” said Garth Gibson, President and CEO of the Vector Institute. “Vector has endeavored to attract top talent to advance AI research and drive its application, adoption and commercialization. We look forward to working with Anatole and the Acceleration Consortium team to advance Toronto’s position as a global center for artificial research. ”

The Acceleration Consortium is one of many companies in U of T’s Institutional Strategic Initiatives (ISI) program, a framework that enables the development and sustainability of cross-functional, interdisciplinary collaborative research networks through partnerships with external partners from industry, community and philanthropic organizations.

“With the generosity of Ed Clark and Anatole’s assumption of the first chair, U of T is increasing its ability to answer some of the most pressing questions in materials science,” said Christine Allen, Vice President and Vice President of U of T, strategic initiatives. “I am thrilled that we are pushing boundaries and securing U of T’s place at the forefront of developing solution-oriented global research ecosystems.”


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