Human technology

Bistra Dilkina Named President of Early Career Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg – USC Viterbi

Pictured at Dilkina’s May 3 installation ceremony (left – right): Gaurav S. Sukhatme, Rod Nakamoyo, Charlotte Ginsburg, Bistra Dilkina, Allen Ginsburg, Yannis Yortsos and Kaci Silverman. Photo: Greg Grudt/Steve Cohn Photography.

USC President Carol Folt praised Bistra Dilkinaassociate professor of computer science, as a “constantly innovating researcher” at Installation of Dilkina as the inaugural Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg Early Career Chair on May 3.

The announcement comes a year after the physical grand opening of a new computing building, the Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg Human-Centered Computation Hall, a new home for computing and data science at USC named in l honor of its major donors. Research and education in the new building will focus on promoting the essential role of computing in improving and benefiting society in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics.

Congratulating Dilkina and expressing his gratitude for the generosity of the Ginsburgs, President Folt called the event a celebration of “a young Viterbi scientist who is changing the way the world sees and uses artificial intelligence” and “a visionary couple whose philanthropy is shaping a future where computing powers solutions that save lives – and lift lives – for humanity.

The human factor

During her speech, USC President Carol Folt called Dilkina “a young Viterbi scientist who is changing the way the world sees and uses artificial intelligence.” Photo: Greg Grudt/Steve Cohn Photography.

Folt emphasized the “human factor” in Dilkina’s work, which tackles real-world issues spanning applications in sustainability, ecology, disaster preparedness and drug abuse prevention.

In their address, the Ginsburgs noted Dilkina’s history “with solving real-world, large-scale problems, especially those that arise in areas of sustainability such as urban planning”, and called her an “engineer perfect heroics”.

“At USC, early career chair appointments are special because of what they represent: people who have already established themselves through hard work and leadership, but who still have tremendous potential for even more. greatness,” Allen Ginsburg said.

Dean Yannis Yortsos agreed, referring to Dilkina as “one of our most talented rising faculties”.

“Holding such a professorship is considered an honor in the academic world, and the university can use them to reward its best professors or to recruit the best professors from other institutions,” Yortsos said.

AI for social good

Dilkina’s work focuses on combining mathematical optimization and machine learning to help select the best option from a set of alternatives, which is crucial for solving complex problems with limited resources.

Construction is underway of the Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg Human-Centered Computation Hall, a new home for computing and data science. Photo: Greg Grudt/Steve Cohn Photography.

In partnership with the world’s leading wildlife conservation groups, Dilkina and his graduate students are developing algorithms to help address several pressing environmental needs, from designing optimal wildlife reserves to combating wildlife crime and preventing the spread of invasive species.

This includes a National Science Foundation-funded project with collaborators around the world to thwart illicit animal trafficking. Researchers aim to create data-rich models identifying key illegal trafficking routes to increase the likelihood of effective intervention.

Since 2020, Dilkina is co-director of the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society (CAIS)one of the first centers on AI for social good and the only academic center that is equal parts computer science and social work.

“This type of work requires truly interdisciplinary collaborations and close engagement of stakeholders and community organization,” Dilkina said. “Here at USC, I’ve found the most thriving, supportive, and inspiring environment in which to do that.”

A devoted mentor

In addition to her research, Dilkina is a passionate mentor, spreading her passion to her students. In her undergraduate class focusing on AI for Sustainable Development, she engages students in a deep dive into the role AI can play in energy, the environment, education, and public health.

Meanwhile, its graduate students are developing state-of-the-art AI methods to solve problems spanning topics such as using satellite imagery to classify land cover, helping decide where to perform prescribed burns to minimize wildfires. potential forests and develop AI methods to help make LA’s infrastructure more resilient. to natural disasters.

“It is my absolute pleasure and great honor to be the first recipient of the Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg Early Career Chair in Computer Science,” said Dilkina.

“Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg’s vision for human-centered computing and their appreciation of computing as a driving force for innovation and social impact resonates so deeply with my research priorities and my aspirations.”

Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg and USC Viterbi School of Engineering Dean Yannis Yortsos. Photo: Greg Grudt/Steve Cohn Photography.

Philanthropists with a big heart

Allen Ginsburg is a retired ophthalmologist specializing in entrepreneurship, real estate and philanthropy. He is a self-proclaimed futurist deeply concerned with matters concerning the planet and the universe.

Charlotte Ginsburg’s interests include the performing arts, dance, theater, and costume and fashion design. The couple also supports programs that promote environmental sustainability. Longtime residents of Southern California live in Palos Verdes.

A few years ago, their generosity established the Ginsburg Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics at USC, where scientists collaborate on research on neurosensory disorders. Paying tribute to the Ginsburgs’ incredible dedication to USC, Folt said, “Viterbi needs kind-hearted philanthropists. And we found that in Charlotte and Allen Ginsburg.

A heroic engineer

Dilkina holds a bachelor’s degree from Simon Fraser University and master’s and doctoral degrees from Cornell University. She joined USC in January 2018 from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she served as an assistant professor, developing optimization techniques to identify profitable biodiversity corridors, connecting isolated populations of rare, threatened, and endangered species. endangered living in protected areas.

Since then, she has published extensively on illegal wildlife poaching forecasting, land cover mapping, species distribution models, and disaster resilience planning.

In addition to the Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg Early Career Chair, Dilkina’s research has been widely recognized, including the Okawa Foundation Research Award (2019), UN Data for Climate Action Challenge in Climate Adaptation for his work on Road Flood Prediction and Mitigation (2017) and multiple awards from KDD Applied Data Science, Raytheon, and AAAI, among others.

Posted on June 20, 2022

Last updated June 20, 2022