Carnegie Mellon University
July 17, 2018

Hodgins, Gupta Join Facebook AI Research

By Byron Spice

Byron Spice
  • School of Computer Science
  • 412-268-9068

Carnegie Mellon University's Jessica Hodgins will lead a newly established Facebook AI Research (FAIR) lab in Pittsburgh, where she will be joined by CMU's Abhinav Gupta. The appointments are part of an expansion of Facebook's artificial intelligence research activities with academic communities.

Image of Jessica Hodgins
Jessica Hodgins

The FAIR Pittsburgh lab will focus on robotics, lifelong learning systems that learn continuously, teaching machines to reason, and AI in support of creativity. Yann LeCun, Facebook's chief AI scientist, announced the Pittsburgh lab and the expansion of FAIR labs in Seattle, London and Menlo Park, Calif., in a blog post today.

Hodgins, a professor of robotics and computer science, and Gupta, an associate professor of robotics, will work part-time with Facebook, maintaining their teaching and research duties at CMU. This dual affiliation model is common across FAIR, LeCun noted, with researchers already splitting their time between FAIR and New York University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Montreal, University of Washington, University College London and Tel Aviv University, among others.

"Facebook's new lab will create new opportunities to make advances in AI, both at the company and at CMU," said Andrew Moore, dean of the School of Computer Science. "Even better, both Jessica and Abhinav will continue their work at CMU, helping us educate the next generation of AI scientists."

Image of Abinav Gupta
Abhinav Gupta

Similarly, Yaser Sheikh, CMU associate professor of robotics, since 2015 has divided his time between campus and Facebook, where he is director of the Facebook Reality Lab.

"We welcome Facebook's FAIR lab to Pittsburgh, which will provide our faculty and students with new opportunities to engage in groundbreaking research. From experience with our many partners in the city, we know that corporate activity close to campus is of mutual benefit to the university and our partners," said Mark Nolan, CMU's associate vice president of institutional partnerships.

LeCun said FAIR is excited to continue investing in academia, educating the next generation of researchers and engineers, and strengthening interaction across AI disciplines that can traditionally become siloed. FAIR plans to support a number of Ph.D. students and to provide research funding for Carnegie Mellon students and faculty. In addition to collaborations, FAIR also offers fellowships and emerging scholars programs for doctoral students.

"We created Facebook AI Research over four years ago to focus on advancing the science and technology of AI, and we've always done this by collaborating with local academic communities," LeCun said in his blog. "FAIR relies on open partnerships to help drive AI forward, where researchers have the freedom to control their own agenda. Ours frequently collaborate with academics from other institutions, and we often provide financial and hardware resources to specific universities."

Carnegie Mellon is a leading center for AI research and education, ranked No. 1 for AI graduate programs by U.S. News and World Report earlier this year. The CMU AI initiative is further strengthening the university's AI efforts by connecting and supporting AI researchers across campus. This fall, the School of Computer Science will launch an undergraduate AI degree, the first at any U.S. university.

Hodgins, formerly vice president for research at Disney Research, focuses her work on computer graphics, animation, and robotics with an emphasis on generating and analyzing human motion, which will also benefit the Facebook Reality Lab.

Hodgins last year was elected president of the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH). Last summer, SIGGRAPH presented her with its highest honor, the Steven Anson Coons Award for Outstanding Creative Contributions to Computer Graphics in recognition of her foundational work in character animation, her support and cultivation of emerging researchers, and her extensive volunteer service to the computer graphics community.

Gupta's research focuses on large-scale visual and robot learning, self-supervised learning, and reasoning. A faculty member since 2011, he has received the Office of Naval Research's Young Investigator Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, a Bosch Young Faculty Fellowship and the Okawa Foundation Research Grant.