Colloquium Alán Aspuru-Guzik: There is no time for science as usual: Materials Acceleration PlatformsOnline Colloquium
By Alán Aspuru-Guzik, Department of Chemistry and Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, Canada
The world is facing several time-sensitive issues ranging from climate change to the rapid degradation of our climate, as well as the emergence of new diseases like COVID-19. We need to rethink the way we do science and think of it as a workflow that could be optimized. Where are the pain points that can be solved with automation, artificial intelligence, or better human practices? My group has been thinking about this question with an application to the design of organic optoelectronic materials. In this talk, I will discuss the progress in developing materials acceleration platforms, or self-driving labs for this purpose.
Alán Aspuru-Guzik is a professor of Chemistry and Computer Science at the University of Toronto and is also the Canada 150 Research Chair in Theoretical Chemistry and a Canada CIFAR AI Chair at the Vector Institute. He is a CIFAR Lebovic Fellow in the Biologically Inspired Solar Energy program. Alán also holds an Google Industrial Research Chair in Quantum Computing. Alán is the director of the Acceleration Consortium, a University of Toronto-based strategic initiative that aims to gather researchers from industry, government and academia around pre-competitive research topics related to the lab of the future.
Alán began his independent career at Harvard University in 2006 and was a Full Professor at Harvard University from 2013-2018. He received his B.Sc. from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 1999 and obtained a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004, where he was also a postdoctoral fellow from 2005-2006.
Alán conducts research in the interfaces of quantum information, chemistry, machine learning and chemistry. He was a pioneer in the development of algorithms and experimental implementations of quantum computers and quantum simulators dedicated to chemical systems. He has studied the role of quantum coherence in the transfer of excitonic energy in photosynthetic complexes and has accelerated the discovery by calculating organic semiconductors, organic photovoltaic energy, organic batteries and organic light-emitting diodes. He has worked on molecular representations and generative models for the automatic learning of molecular properties. Currently, Alán is interested in automation and “autonomous” chemical laboratories for accelerating scientific discovery.
Among other recognitions, he received the Google Focused Award for Quantum Computing, the Sloan Research Fellowship, The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award, and was selected as one of the best innovators under the age of 35 by the MIT Technology Review. He is a member of the American Physical Society and an elected member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and received the Early Career Award in Theoretical Chemistry from the American Chemical Society.