Government of Canada recruits world-renowned researcher to bridge the gap between AI and neuroscience

Canada Excellence Research Chairs helps strengthen Montréal’s position as a global centre for artificial intelligence

September 10, 2020—Ottawa, ON—Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat

To build a country that is stronger, more innovative and better connected, Canada must attract world-leading researchers and scholars to work, study and train research teams in our institutions. These leading innovators will help position Canada as a hub for innovation and ideas that lead to the creation of jobs in today’s industries.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced the appointment of Irina Rish, as the latest Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Autonomous Artificial Intelligence (AI). This announcement is part of the Government of Canada’s investment of over $90 million to establish CERCs to further Canada’s standing as a global centre of excellence in science, research and innovation.

Supported by $10 million in funding from the Government of Canada over seven years and nearly $25 million from organizations such as the Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute (Mila), and the Université de Montréal, as well as several other public and private organizations, Rish will elevate Canada’s profile as a leader in AI.

Recruited from IBM in New York, she plans to build an ambitious, cross-disciplinary research centre at the Université de Montréal where she is an associate professor in the Computer Science and Operations Research department. Rish and her team will work to bridge the gaps between AI, biology, neuroscience and psychology, which will give us a deeper understanding of the human brain.

Appointing a new CERC in Autonomous AI is a high point in growing a leading-edge research hub in Canada, maintaining our country’s reputation as a world-class centre of excellence for AI research and innovation, and enhancing the potential for global impacts in medicine, industry and other critical sectors.


“By attracting world-class researchers like Dr. Rish to Canadian institutions, our government is helping position our country as a globally competitive research hub. Making sure that Canada is at the leading edge of transformative research fields such as Artificial Intelligence will benefit the well-being and prosperity of all Canadians.”

—The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

"Professor Rish joins a formidable pool of talent in artificial intelligence and neuroscience here, in Montréal and across Canada. Through the CERC program, she and her team will have the opportunity to explore new and potentially very promising avenues. We are honoured to have her with us."

—Daniel Jutras, Rector, Université de Montréal

“The CERC program supports world-leading investigators from diverse backgrounds whose work at Canadian institutions strengthens Canadian innovation, social well-being and economic prosperity. Their work is equally invaluable in training the next generation of Canadian research leaders.”

—Ted Hewitt, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and Chair, CERC Steering Committee

“Canadians can be proud of the experts that choose our institutes to pursue their inquiries in leading edge fields of research represented in the natural sciences and engineering. We know that Dr. Rish will shine a bright light on Canada’s already strong cluster of knowledge in AI but more importantly, she will mentor and train the next generation of researchers in this exciting field.”

—Dr. Alejandro Adem, President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

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John Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Andrea Matyas
Director of Communications
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council