By Regina Stracqualursi

Artificial intelligence (AI) has already transformed daily life. From asking Siri the weather to receiving songs on a playlist tailored to your music preferences, we are constantly interacting with technologies powered by AI. As part of the Artificial Intelligence Research Collaboration (AIRC), an initiative between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and IBM, researchers are advancing AI and applying it toward today’s most pressing challenges.

Part of IBM’s AI Horizons Network, the AIRC is a joint effort between IBM researchers and Rensselaer faculty and students that strives to improve AI, machine learning, natural language processing, and more. Faculty recruited as members of the AIRC play a critical role in the AI and machine learning research taking place on the Rensselaer campus:

  • Tianyi Chen, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering, uses machine learning algorithms to improve applications such as image classification and text prediction.
  • Lydia Manikonda, assistant professor in the Lally School of Management, applies machine learning to better understand social media data.
  • Santiago Paternain, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering, is investigating the intersection of machine learning and control of dynamical systems.
  • Trevor Rhone, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy, uses machine learning for materials and knowledge discovery.
  • Tomek Strzalkowski, professor in the Department of Cognitive Science, uses algorithms to understand language and disinformation.

Graduate students funded by the AI Horizons Network are also advancing critical research as part of the AIRC. For example:

  • Nkechinyere N. Agu is using AI to help physicians with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
  • Tyler J. Malloy is studying human learning and decision-making, and applying it to improve AI.
  • Colin Sutcher-Shepard is designing an algorithm that trains machine learning models to protect the privacy of users.
  • Yuchen Liang is developing machine learning algorithms that can answer natural language questions posed by humans.
  • Ao Liu is working to make deep neural networks more robust.
  • Zijun Cui is creating deep models driven by domain knowledge, with less dependency on big data.

The AIRC also conducts calls for projects in support of IBM Research goals, and facilitates externships for graduate students to work with some of the leading IBM researchers.

Learn more about the complete group of AIH Scholars and their research, as well as past calls for projects and externs. For more information on the AIRC, visit