Message from the Director
Dear Friends, Colleagues & Partners,
We are excited to start 2023 at the Monash Data Futures Institute (MDFI). As the Institute continues to grow and drive impact, leading research in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science and building international partnerships, I would like to share some of our significant highlights from 2022, and look ahead to our exciting plans for 2023.
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Associate Professor Andrea Collevecchio as the new Research Director for the Institute and thank Professor Geoff Webb for his leadership work over the last three years. MDFI brings together a community of researchers from across our Monash campuses and Faculties - our leadership team is expanding and you can find our researchers here.
Engaging in impactful research
We had a productive and busy 2022 helping bring together multidisciplinary teams to tackle large and significant research problems.
In 2022, the Institute launched 6 new projects to support AI and data science interdisciplinary research with a focus on fostering international collaborations between our Monash international campuses as well as with international partners, addressing globally significant problems around climate change, geopolitical security and thriving communities.They add to our existing portfolio of flagship projects supported by MDFI. These investments support our Monash Impact 2030 strategy and we are excited to see these projects progress this coming year.
Our flagship research projects continue to drive impact, with significant external grant funding from a range of sources including ARC, NHMRC, MRFF and DFAT.
Research results from our flagship projects include:
- Our continued partnership with the Paul Ramsay Foundation and a collaborative project between MDFI, Monash Sustainable Development Institute and the Monash Faculties of Business and Economics and Information Technology, led to the development and installation of compelling visualisations on the Narratives Around Cycles of Disadvantage in Australia in Darlinghurst, Sydney, representing an analysis of more than 82 million words of Australian public discourse.
- Research on the role of AI for bushfire smoke estimation, and estimating global health burden due to bushfire smoke with the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, and the Faculty of Engineering continued with successful publications in leading journals.
- MDFI supported research led to the development of new software which delivers advanced sound quality of heart and lung monitoring for preterm and full term babies. The team published their research in various journals, received widespread media coverage for their work, including one of the Chief Investigators winning the 2023 Women Leading Tech Award.
- Research on the Analysis of medicine use and safety during COVID-19 with the Faculty of Pharmacy and Faculty of IT continued with a successful publication in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
- Analysis of sexual and gender-based violence, with the Faculty of Arts and Faculty of IT, contributed to the successful award of a new ARC Centre of Excellence for The Elimination of Violence Against Women. The impact of COVID-19 on domestic violence was analysed through new data science approaches and visualisations that demonstrated that “staying home” is not always safe - How Covid19 intensified domestic violence in Australia
We are also committed to inspire and support the next generation of AI and data science researchers.
Our prestigious Monash Data Futures Institute PhD Scholarships program, launched in 2020 to support our flagship research projects, welcomed six new PhD students in 2022, who joined Monash from across the globe. Read more about their work and how they are accelerating our progress in addressing research problems using AI and data science. We look forward to welcoming our new PhD student cohort in 2023.
MDFI also sponsored the highly acclaimed International School in Artificial Intelligence and its Applications in Computer Science (ISAAC), organised by Monash Information Technology.
Building a global AI and data science community
Through our Monash Data Futures Institute Affiliation Program, launched in 2020, we continue to make vital contributions to the AI and data science community. With 550+ affiliates, we are one of the largest such cohorts in Asia-Pacific.
In 2022, our Monash Prato Dialogue Distinguished Lecture series in AI continued to lead up to the inaugural Monash Prato Dialogue - AI Summit in September at the Monash Prato Centre in Italy. The 3-day summit was a resounding success and brought together some of the brightest minds in AI for Social Good from top Institutions around the world, to explore new research collaborations and built an international network of experts spanning research disciplines across the humanities and social sciences, technology, science and engineering fields.
We have recently announced the dates for the 2023 edition of the Summit, and are inviting Expressions of Interest from researchers and professionals who would like to participate in this exclusive invite-only event.
To build upon Monash University’s long history of excellence in AI and data science research, leading to practical solutions at scale and with immediacy to current and future global challenges, we held the AI for Good Showcase in June 2022. We were pleased to see registrations from 5 countries, multiple industry partners and Monash attendees from all 10 Faculties. The event included a selection of talks from our flagship projects, and poster presentations from PhD students and early career researchers that reflect Monash University's expertise in advancing AI and data science to tackle problems of critical importance to human well-being, and preservation of the global environment. The Showcase provided a platform to explore further opportunities to connect with Monash University’s thought-leaders in AI for Social Good.
The Institute continued its partnership as a gold sponsor of the ITU/UN AI for Good Summit, resulting in the production of two outstanding online events that attracted a large, diverse and international audience:
- Panel discussion on AI at the Intersection of Species Conservation and Climate Action held in person and online
- Interview on Bringing AI Analytics to Big Data to Improve Communities
Our partnership with the ITU/ UN AI for Good Summit will continue in 2023 and reflects our strategy to build the international reputation and awareness of Monash's vast AI and data science capabilities, through new and growing alliances with key global organisations.
Supporting Women in STEMM initiatives
In line with our commitment of supporting the next generation of female leaders in AI and rewarding excellence in the field, we continued our support for the Women in AI Awards - Australia/ New Zealand as the Premium Partner in 2022. I was delighted to present the Grand Award of WAI Innovator of the Year 2022 to Professor Helen Frazer, radiologist, breast cancer clinician and clinical director at BreastScreen, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, for her work on Artificial Intelligence for breast cancer detection with mammography.
For 2023, we are proud to continue to support the Women in AI Awards APAC 2023 as a Principal Partner to present the Trailblazer award.
We are passionate about supporting Women in STEM, and engaged in a variety of initiatives, including Thousand Voices Podcast, Women in AI Showcase Podcast, Women in Tech Fest 2022 , and IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Summit.
Growth in partnerships
Forming partnerships, creating opportunities for industry engagement and leading major initiatives is a key focus for the Institute.
- We were pleased to host the new Director of the National AI Centre Stela Solar to Monash University for a roundtable for her “AI Listening Tours”. The roundtable aimed to explore the landscape and opportunities for Australia’s growing Artificial Intelligence ecosystem, and to understand the career opportunities for students and early career professionals.
- We were successful in six projects within CSIRO’s Data61 Next Gen Graduates Program. This cohort-based, industry-driven, cross-disciplinary training program focuses on expanding the pipeline of homegrown, job-ready graduates to unlock the immense economic opportunities offered by AI and emerging technologies.
- MDFI continued its strong engagement with the Australian Data Science Network (ADSN) to support them in building a collaborative network of expertise in data science across Australia. The Institute was involved in celebrating International Women in Data Science Day (WiDS) 2022, and supported the inaugural ADSN Conference 2022 with two invited presentations from Dr. Emi Tanaka and Prof Joanna Batstone.
- The Institute collaborated with organisations including Science and Technology Australia, Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), ADC Forum, and Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) to support the building of a strong AI/ data science/ technology community in Australia.
Looking forward to 2023…
As we look ahead to the coming year, we are excited about the future and the opportunity to accelerate scientific breakthroughs, nurture and grow new projects and build deep partnerships and collaborations with universities, industry, government and philanthropic organisations.
The second edition of the Monash Prato Dialogue: AI Summit, will be held in July 2023 at Monash Prato Centre. We invite you to join us in our new seminar series, “Monash Conversations on AI and Data Science” to continually engage our community in thought provoking discussions.
All the Institute’s achievements in 2022 wouldn’t have been possible without my leadership team and I extend my personal “thanks” to the MDFI team, for their significant contributions. I look forward to achieving more impact for the Institute with their support.
A core focus for us since the launch of the Institute has been on building an international community. And like in any community, every individual matters. So most importantly, I thank YOU for your engagement with us.
To engage with us throughout the year, I invite you to subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on our LinkedIn Page, Twitter account and YouTube channel, and join us in thoughtful conversations around AI and data science for social good.
We’re looking forward to an exciting 2023!
Professor Joanna Batstone
Twitter - @jbatstone
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanna-batstone-phd-005154a/
Email - Joanna.Batstone@monash.edu