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Monash Data Futures Institute

Using AI and data science for social good

Meet the team

Professor Joanna Batstone

Prof Joanna Batstone

Joanna is the inaugural Director of the Monash Data Futures Institute and is an international leading authority on AI and data science.

Following an international search, Prof Batstone joins Monash from IBM, where she was Vice President, Innovation, IBM Corporate Strategy.

Joanna will be responsible for bringing together data science and AI capabilities from across the University. Prof Batstone’s role will also continue to establish a digital ecosystem which fosters collaborative interdisciplinary research and promotes lasting industry engagements.

An exceptional thought leader in the development and application of AI and data analytics, Joanna is passionate about the benefits of AI in driving lasting and transformative change for social good.

Professor Geoff Webb
Research Director

Geoff Webb

Geoff is the founding Research Director of the Monash Data Futures Institute and an acclaimed international data scientist and technical advisor.

Geoff is Professor of Data Science in the Faculty of Information Technology at Monash University, and leads a research group investigating how to use data to best support effective evidence-based decision making and derive useful knowledge and insight.

Geoff’s work spans artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining, data analytics and big data. He has developed many pivotal machine learning algorithms that are widely deployed in a broad range of applications including manufacturing, finance, medicine, biology and geoscience.

He is an IEEE Fellow and his many awards include the prestigious inaugural Eureka Prize for Excellence in Data Science.

AI and data science changing health sciences

Monash has a long history of excellence in the health sciences, with our research breakthroughs changing millions of lives for the better.

With the application of AI and data science, we’re shaping the future of health in Australia and around the world.

From partnering with Google to establish the world’s first suicide monitoring system using AI-coded ambulance data, to exploring artificial consciousness as a key to healthy brain functioning, Monash Data Futures is tackling critical problems in our community health and healthcare systems to deliver better outcomes for all.

AI and data science in better governance and policy

The rapid evolution of AI and data science means that governance and policy must also adapt quickly. By working across the humanities and social sciences, as well as STEM subjects, we’re pioneering principles for ensuring AI has a positive influence.

This, combined with our industry and research relationships, international reach, and ability to scale at the micro and macro levels, enables us to support governments, enterprises and communities in building better policy and governance practices.

From the future of teaching and the responsible integration of AI technologies into classrooms to support personalised, learner-driven education, to partnering with the Australian Federal Police on the use of AI in monitoring criminal activity on the dark web, Monash Data Futures is creating change that will be felt around the world.

  • Revenge porn skyrockets

    Coronavirus has meant more time at home, more time online and more image-based abuse.

  • Running the numbers game

    The real-time SCRUB project is tracking how groups of people around the world are behaving amid the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Are 'smart' solutions really that smart?

    Should the word apply to an application that’s difficult to use and doesn’t take human needs into account? 

AI and data science in sustainable development

We’re harnessing AI and data science to deliver practical solutions at scale and with immediacy to current and future global challenges.

We’re using AI to model the behaviour of bees to optimise greenhouses for sustainable crop production, and informing legal policy and practice regarding the use of AI face-swapping technology to create fake pornography as a form of gendered image-based abuse.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are an essential part of Monash’s identity and the critical work that we do. Through Monash Data Futures, we’re using AI and data science as an accelerant for achieving these goals through direct and responsible action.

  • New technology can help mitigate bushfires and improve our response

    New mapping technology developed by Monash researchers takes an innovative data science approach to bushfire management, helping authorities better predict and manage future fires.

  • Chip, chip, hooray

    A new "optical micro-comb" chip can squeeze three times the traffic of the entire NBN through a single optical fibre.

  • Australia's first high-resolution vegetation map

    Monash University researchers have developed Australia’s first high-resolution vegetation map to help Victoria manage bushfires and floods.

Director's message

Hear from our Director, Professor Joanna Batstone as she reflects on Monash Data Futures and the year 2020

As we approach the end of 2020, a year which has been unlike any other year, our Inaugural Director, Professor Joanna Batstone, reflects on the accomplishments of the Monash Data Futures Institute associated with our efforts in Research, Engagement and Education.

Data Futures Institute PhD Scholarships

Be a future thought leader - Shape the future of Artificial Intelligence and data science for social good

The Monash Data Futures Institute is introducing one of the most generous and prestigious PhD scholarships of any university in Australia. This scholarship aims to support a community of future thought leaders addressing some of the most pressing global challenges through the advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science.

Join a unique interdisciplinary PhD program with a core focus on research and application of AI and data science.

Your journey to be an outstanding researcher starts here.

Core technologies

Monash Data Futures Institute is underpinned by the University’s network of world-class research infrastructure, including the new dedicated Data Science and AI Platform .

The Data Science and AI Platform provides a core university capability designed to aggregate the data science and AI technical resources. In conjunction with the Institute, the platform facilitates access to expert support within the university and makes them centrally accessible to the research, education and industry partners.

Collectively, we form a powerful catalyst of profound data-driven change, accelerating and translating discoveries into world changing solutions.


  • Future Tense: Our understanding of AI and the value of a national plan

    In this program we hear about the latest public opinion research and find out how other countries are coordinating and prioritising AI development.

    Professor Neil Selwyn – Monash Data Futures Institute, Monash University
    Michael Evans – Artificial Intelligence strategist
    Yaqiu Wong – China researcher, Human Rights Watch

  • How’s your life under lockdown? Tweets tell the tale of how neighbourhoods compare

    How did your suburb handle Melbourne’s lockdown? Millions of Melburnians are emerging from more than 100 days of lockdown and experiences varied greatly depending on postcode according to a study involving Monash Data Futures Institute Research Director Geoff Webb and Professor Dickson Lukose.

  • AI for good: Artistic Intelligence

    Hosted by: Changing the story

    This podcast episode was produced in partnership with the Monash Data Futures Institute, Monash University.

    Dr Erica Tandori, a visually impaired artist at Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute is using AI to create multi-sensory art experiences showcasing the wonders of biological life.

    Hear her incredible story in the UN’s AI for Good Global Summit podcast


Past events


Join as a member of the Monash Data Futures Institute

The Monash Data Futures Institute is calling all Monash researchers with an interest in AI and the data sciences to join this inaugural cohort of Members. You will be instrumental in shaping the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science for social good

Whether your research expertise in AI and data science pertains to developing state-of-the-art algorithms and models, studying ethical and social implications, advancing medicine and healthcare, improving legal and regulatory outcomes, environmental or engineering innovation, you are welcome to join this fast growing and thriving AI and data science community.