During the visit, Sara Mazur and Peter Wallenberg met Chalmers’ WASP researchers and learned about how the programme has developed at the university. They first met three of the research leaders that Chalmers has recruited with funding from WASP.
Professor Ross D. King has been recruited from the University of Manchester. He aims to make science more efficient with the aid of artificial intelligence (AI). At the Department of Biology and Biotechnology, he will continue his work with a "Robot Scientist". The focus is to understand how cells work - a research area that is so complex that human scientists struggle, and where robotic help is needed.
Christopher Zach, joining recently from Toshiba's research lab in Cambridge, is now a Research Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering, and Fredrik Johansson, with a postdoc from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is now an Assistant Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
Christopher's research topic is computer vision and image understanding, and Fredrik's research area is machine learning with a focus on medical applications. With mathematical theory and modelling as a scientific basis, the goal is to develop tools to be used as decision support in autonomous systems and health care. Is it possible to design a system with an ability to reason its way to a correct conclusion?
“Artificial intelligence offers very promising support in radiology, to identify tumours and other abnormalities in tomography or X-ray images. But work remains to be done to make the systems robust to changes in personnel, equipment and patient groups,” says Fredrik Johansson.
WASP projects at five departments
The WASP program has scaled up the research in AI, autonomous systems and software at Chalmers. Since the start in 2018, approximately 50 PhD students and postdocs have been recruited and further recruitments are planned. The initiative is particularly noticeable at the Department of Mathematical Sciences, according to Daniel Persson, Assistant Professor and supervisor in the WASP program.
“Mathematics for AI has increased at the department, not least the collaboration between research groups and with industry. A total of 14 research projects within AI are ongoing at the department today – thanks in large part to the fact that our researchers have been successful in obtaining grants from WASP,” says Daniel Persson.
Chalmers Vice President for Research and Doctoral Education Anders Palmqvist is very pleased with how WASP has spread across the university departments.
“We have ongoing WASP projects at five different departments. Chalmers has a strategic ambition to work across departments through its Areas of Advance, and Chalmers' initial work to mobilise for the launch of WASP was handled in collaboration with the Information and Communication Technology Area of Advance,” says Anders Palmqvist.
Successful graduate school
In addition to research projects and strategic recruitments, WASP also runs a graduate school for PhD students with a range of joint courses and network meetings. Christian Berger, from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, was involved in building up the graduate school.
“The courses and network meetings, both nationally and internationally, offer great value to the PhD students. It was a challenge to develop an educational programme adapted to students from many disciplines, but what we have achieved broadens the students’ expertise and gives them an ability to communicate their research between the disciplines – which is not always easy,” says Christian Berger.
During their visit to Chalmers, Sara Mazur and Peter Wallenberg also visited Chalmers Biomechatronics and Neurorehabilitation Lab. Director Max Ortiz Catalan demonstrated two types of research projects with assistance from two patients.
The Wallenberg Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP) is a major national initiative for strategically motivated basic research, education and faculty recruitment in artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and software development, funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation together with the partner universities and participating industry. The starting point for WASP is the combined existing world-leading competence in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Computer Science at Sweden’s five major ICT universities: Chalmers University of Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Linköping University, Lund University and Umeå University. Research projects are also conducted at Uppsala University and Örebro University.
The aim is to strengthen, expand, and renew the national competence through new strategic recruitments, a challenging research program, a national graduate school, and collaboration with industry.
At Chalmers, there is an established collaboration between WASP and Chalmers AI Research Centre, CHAIR, to ensure good synergy.