Yolanda Gil to Lead AAAI

August 4, 2016

ISI artificial intelligence researcher Yolanda Gil has been elected president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), the world's premiere organization of AI researchers.

Founded in 1979, the AAAI has more than 4,000 members internationally. Past presidents have included such computer science luminaries as Allen Newell, Raj Reddy and Edward Feigenbaum.

The organization, which seeks to promote AI research and responsible use, hosts one of the leading annual AI conferences and supports 14 professional journals, among many other activities. Gil served on the AAAI Council until 2006, and was elected to the prestigious post of AAAI Fellow in 2012.

An ISI research director and USC Viterbi School of Engineering research professor, she'll be the organization's 24th president and its fourth female leader. Gil was also chair of the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group in Artificial Intelligence, among other research community leadership roles.

"We're extremely proud of Yolanda's professional achievements and generous spirit," says University of Southern California ISI Michael Keston Executive Director and Research Professor Prem Natarajan. "Not only does this election recognize Yolanda's significant and longstanding contributions to the AI community, it reinforces ISI's standing among computer science researchers and practitioners around the globe."

"Yolanda has done an important job mentoring our junior team members on the path from fresh PhDs to accomplished researchers," says Yigal Arens, director of ISI's Intelligent Systems Division. "Her experience will greatly benefit AAAI, especially given how many more people are pursuing AI studies as the field gains even greater popularity."

"These are exciting times as AI increasingly permeates our lives," says Gil. "We see it in systems from Siri to self-driving cars to scientific discovery and many other applications doing useful tasks." She sees AAAI as the leading forum to coordinate a burgeoning list of AI community activities, particularly as more high school and college students get involved. What's more, says Gil, "We have a strong responsibility to design AI systems that have - and encourage - ethical and responsible behaviors."

At ISI, Gil is director of knowledge technologies, with a research group that investigates requirements for collection, use and sharing of knowledge to develop intelligent systems. Her research focuses on human-computer collaboration, especially on ways to assist people with complex, knowledge-rich tasks that can't be fully delegated and automated. Gil's diverse, interdisciplinary projects involve scientific data analysis and discovery in diverse areas ranging from cancer "omics" to paleoclimatology.

A native of Spain, she received her bachelor's degree at the Polytechnic University of Madrid and her master's and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University. Gil joined ISI in 1992.