Physics Professor Joel Zylberberg appointed associate Fellow at CIFAR

Joel Zylberberg
Joel Zylberberg

The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), a Canadian-based global charitable organization that brings the world’s brightest minds together, has named York University physics Professor Joel Zylberberg as a new associate Fellow.

Joel Zylberberg

The coveted honour places Zylberberg of the Faculty of Science at the heart of a community of Fellows working on the most pressing problems facing science and humanity in the world today. There are some 400 researchers from 22 countries, including 20 Nobel Prize recipients, at CIFAR.

Appointed a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar in 2016, Zylberberg is one of only four to be elevated to an associate Fellow. He joins the Information & Matter research theme in its Learning in Machines & Brains (LMB) program, looking at how we understand intelligence and build intelligent machines.

There are only about 40 members of the CIFAR LMB program, and they are considered collectively to be the world leaders in machine learning and neuroscience, and the intersection between those fields.

“This is indeed a high honour, and of great benefit to York,” said Marshall McCall, Chair of the Department of Physics & Astronomy at York. “Through Joel, we have gained a direct connection to the luminaries working at the cutting edge of research into artificial intelligence and, in turn, a significant stimulus to corresponding research here.”

The new appointment will give Zylberberg access to CIFAR catalyst funds for building collaborations among Fellows to work on today’s most important questions as well as the opportunity to attend the biannual LMB program meetings to discuss their latest research and potential areas of further collaboration.

“These are great idea generators for me and have already led to collaborative projects,” said Zylberberg.

Zylberberg is leading one of the first OpenScope projects at the Allen Brain Observatory – a shared high-throughput experimental platform – to understand how different parts of the brain are involved in visual system learning and how it relates to artificial intelligence deep learning principles.

His collaborators include DeepMind research scientist Tim Lillicrap, CIFAR Fellow Blake Richards of McGill University (formerly with University of Toronto Scarborough) and University of Montreal researcher Yoshua Bengio, CIFAR’s LMB program co-director. Both Richards and Bengio are also Canada CIFAR AI Chairs.

“I’m most looking forward to using the interactions at the LMB meetings to develop new ideas about how learning works in the human brain, and how to use those insights to make smarter machines,” said Zylberberg.