Abu Dhabi's AI university recruits ex-Google director

Artificial intelligence expert will lead human-computer interaction research

Professor Elizabeth Churchill
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User experience expert Prof Elizabeth Churchill will lead Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence’s human-computer interaction department.

She is considered a leading expert in HCI, artificial intelligence, psychology and cognitive science.

"I am honoured and excited to accept the opportunity,” Prof Churchill said. “This initiative represents a pivotal moment in the evolution of AI education and research, where the fusion of human-centred design principles with cutting-edge technology will shape the future of AI innovation.

“I look forward to collaborating with students, faculty and industry partners to cultivate a vibrant community of HCI scholars and practitioners dedicated to advancing AI for the benefit of society.”

Prof Churchill most recently served as senior director of user experience at Google, having previously worked at eBay and Yahoo.

The university's president Prof Eric Xing welcomed the appointment, which he said highlighted the university's commitment to "attracting world-class talent and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration in AI”.

He added: “Prof Churchill’s exceptional track record of research and leadership in HCI and AI will further elevate our university’s academic programmes and strengthen our commitment to excellence in AI education and research."

Supporting AI

The first batch of students to enrol at Abu Dhabi's AI university graduated in January 2023.

Nearly two thirds of them planned to go into employment, PhD placements, paid internships or start-up businesses. Of those, 91 per cent were set to remain in the UAE, the university said at the time.

A total of 52 students graduated – 20 with a master's degree in computer vision, a strand of AI that trains machines to understand the visual world – and 32 in machine-learning, the popular field that trains computers to mimic human intelligence.

Last week, authorities announced the establishment of a chief executive for artificial intelligence across UAE federal entities. The move highlights the level of preparation required for its talent pool to achieve long-term benefits and position the country as a technology leader.

MBZUAI's 2023 graduation - in pictures

Updated: May 27, 2024, 7:56 AM