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On Thursday 30 May 2024, Prof. Peter van Tienderen, Dean of the UvA Faculty of Science, formally kicked off the faculty’s Research Priority Area on AI for Sustainable Molecules and Materials (AI4SMM). Around 80 scientists, students and guests joined the seminar in Matrix ONE, aiming to bridge experimental research in molecular and materials sciences with the potential of artificial intelligence.
The seminar was concluded with a panel discussion. From left to right: Dr Antonia Praetorius (IBED), Prof. Noushine Shahidzadeh (IOP), Prof. Paola Gori Giorgi (Microsoft, VU) and Prof. Max Welling (IvI). Image: FNWI.

The seminar featured engaging presentations from leading speakers in this new fast-growing field of science. The first was Prof. Paola Gori Giorgi from Microsoft Research and VU University, who provided insights into the Microsoft AI4Science program. In her talk  she showed how generative AI can substantially accelerate the discovery of new materials, for example with their MatterGen model, but AI can also help to give insight into the properties of materials with large-scale AI-driven simulations.

Following her presentation, a series of soundbites from AI4SMM members and participants offered glimpses into current projects that focus on exciting AI developments for experimental and computational research of sustainable molecules and materials. Guest speaker Prof. Michael Webb of Princeton University (United States) inspired the audience with his research into data-driven polymeric materials design.

Prof. Peter van Tienderen.
Prof. Paola Gori Giorgi.
Dr Maxim Brodmerkel.

Active participation of the audience

The seminar concluded with a panel discussion led by AI4SMM coordinator Dr Bernd Ensing. Prof. Paola Gori Giorgi, Dr Antonia Praetorius (Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, UvA-FNWI), Prof. Noushine Shahidzadeh (Institute of Physics, UvA-FNWI), and Prof. Max Welling (Informatics Institute, UvA-FNWI) debated the opportunities and challenges of AI usage in scientific research. With active participation of the audience, they discussed why in several scientific fields the AI revolution has still to enter; if and how AI can help to gain fundamental understanding of scientific discoveries; the importance of using AI to make molecules that are safe and sustainable; and how AI4SMM can help with education and training on AI usage for young and old.

Ensing: “Apart from celebrating the start of our AI4SMM program, the main aim of this symposium was to connect with researchers from academia and industry working in this field of AI, sustainability and molecular and material science. In that sense this kickoff was a great success. A big thanks to the organisers, Sara Jabbari Farouji, Alberto Pérez de Alba Ortíz, Corentin Coulais, and Marcel Bartels!”.

See also

More about the Faculty of Science Research Priority Area: AI for Sustainable Molecules and Materials