Women in AI

We would like to present two of the honorary members of EETN through their inspiring bios. Please get to know Prof. Lydia E. Kavraki and Prof. Katia Sycara through their brilliant AI-related career paths.

Prof. Lydia E. Kavraki

Lydia E. Kavraki is the Noah Harding Professor of Computer Science, professor of Bioengineering, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and professor of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University. She is the Director of the Ken Kennedy Institute at Rice.

Kavraki received her B.A. in Computer Science from the University of Crete in Greece and her Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University working with Professor Jean-Claude Latombe.

Kavraki’s research interests span robotics, AI, and biomedicine. In robotics and AI, she is interested in enabling robots to work with people and in support of people. Her research develops the underlying methodologies for achieving this goal: algorithms for motion planning for high-dimensional systems with kinematic and dynamic constraints, integrated frameworks for reasoning under sensing and control uncertainty, novel methods for learning and for using experiences, and ways to instruct robots at a high level and collaborate with them. Kavraki’s lab is inspired by a variety of applications: from robots that will assist people in their homes, to robots that assist in surgeries, to robots that would build space habitats. In biomedicine she develops computational methods and tools to model protein structure and function, understand biomolecular interactions, aid the process of medicinal drug discovery, analyze the molecular machinery of the cell, and help integrate biological and biomedical data for improving human health. Her work has applications, among others, in personalized immunotherapy. Kavraki’s research blends her extensive interdisciplinary background in computer science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, bioengineering and biomedical sciences promoting the convergence of these disciplines.

Kavraki has authored more than 240 peer-reviewed journal and conference publications and is one of the authors of the widely used robotics textbook titled “Principles of Robot Motion” published by MIT Press. Work in her group has produced the Open Motion Planning Library (OMPL), an open-source library of motion planning algorithms. The library links directly with the Robot Operating System (ROS) and MoveIt, and it is heavily used in industry and in academia. Other widely used prototypes of the research conducted in her laboratory include DINC for molecular docking and LabelHash for matching 3D structural motifs in proteins. Her research has been funded by NSF, NIH, ARO, NASA, and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). Kavraki’s more than 30 postdocs and PhD alums have gone on to faculty positions at prestigious universities, industrial research labs, startups as well as large software companies. Kavraki currently serves as an associate editor of the International Journal of Robotics Research, the ACM/IEEE Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, the Computer Science Review, the Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, and the Annual Reviews for Robotics, Control, and Autonomous Systems. She is also a member of the editorial advisory board of the Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics and the IEEE Letters in Robotics and Automation. Kavraki has served as the program chair and as the general chair of “Robotics: Science and Systems,” the premier robotics conference. She leads the NIH/NLM T15 Training Program in Biomedical Informatics and Data Science under the auspices of the Keck Center of the Gulf Coast Consortia in Houston.

As the director of the Ken Kennedy Institute at Rice, Kavraki provides leaderships in the areas of AI, Data and Computing. The Institute has more than 250 members and spans all Schools at Riec University.

Kavraki is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), the Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Science of Texas (TAMEST), the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE), the Academy of Athens, and Academia Europaea.

She has received the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Grace Murray Hopper Award, ACM Athena Lecturer Award and the ACM/AAAI Allen Newell Award. Kavraki has also received the Robotics Pioneer Award from the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. Earlier awards include an NSF CAREER award, a Sloan Fellowship, a Whitaker Investigator Award, the Early Academic Career Award from the IEEE Society on Robotics and Automation, a recognition as a top TR100 investigator from the MIT Technology Review Magazine, a recognition as a Brilliant 10 Scientist from the Popular Science Magazine, and the Anita Borg ABIE Technical Leadership Award. At Rice University, she is the recipient of the Charles Duncan Award for Excellence in Research and Teaching, the Presidential Mentorship Award and the Outstanding Faculty Research Award from the Engineering School. In Houston, she has been recognized with BioHouston’s Women in Science Award. Kavraki is a Fellow of ACM, a Fellow of IEEE, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), and a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).

At Rice, Kavraki has received the Charles Duncan Award, the Presidential Mentorship Award, the Outstanding Faculty Research Award of the Engineering School and the Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, Teaching and Service.

Prof. Katia Sycara

Katia Sycara is a Research Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University and holds the Sixth Century Chair (part time) in Computing Science at the University of Aberdeen in the U.K. She is also the Director of the Laboratory for Agents Technology and Semantic Web Technologies at CMU. She holds a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Brown University, M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin and Ph.D. in Computer Science from Georgia Institute of Technology. She holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Aegean (2004).

Prof. Sycara is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and the recipient of the 2002 ACM/SIGART Agents Research Award. She is also the recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the University of Wisconsin in 2005. She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of France Telecom, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Greek National Center of Scientific Research “Demokritos” Information Technology Division.

Prof. Sycara has given numerous invited talks, and has authored or co-authored more than 300 technical papers dealing with Multiagent Systems, Software Agents, Agents Supporting Human Teams, Multi-Agent Learning in Cooperative and Adversarial Environments, Web Services, the Semantic Web, Human-Agent Interaction, Negotiation, Case-Based Reasoning and the application of these techniques to crisis action planning, scheduling, manufacturing and financial planning and e-commerce. She has led multimillion dollar research effort funded by DARPA, NASA, AFOSR, ONR, AFRL, NSF and industry. Through an ONR MURI program and though the COABS DARPA program, Prof. Sycara’s group has developed the RETSINA multiagent infrastructure, a toolkit that enables the development of heterogeneous software agents that can dynamically coordinate in open information environments (e.g. the Internet). RETSINA has been used in multiple applications including supporting human joint mission teams for crisis response; creating autonomous agents for situation awareness and information fusion; financial portfolio management, negotiations and coalition formation for e-commerce, and coordinating robots for Urban Search and Rescue. Prof. Sycara is one of the contributors to the development of OWL-S, the Darpa-sponsored language for Semantic Web services, as well as matchmaking and brokering software for agent discovery, service integration and semantic interoperation.

Prof. Sycara has served as the Program Chair of the Second International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC 2003), as General Chair of the Second International Conference on Autonomous Agents (Agents 98), as the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Agents Conference (1999-2001), as the Scholarship chair of AAAI (1993-1999) and as a member of the AAAI Executive Council (1996-99). From 2001-2003 she served as Invited Expert of the W3C (the World Wide Web Consortium) Working Group on Web Services Architecture and is currently a member of the OASIS Technical committee on the development of UDDI (Universal Description and Discovery for Interoperability) software which is an industry standard.

Prof. Sycara is a founding member and member of the Board of Directors of the International Foundation of Multiagent Systems (IFMAS). She is a founding member of the Semantic Web Science Association, and serves as the US co-chair of the US-Europe Semantic Web Services Initiative. She is a founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal “Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems”; an Editor-in-Chief of the Springer Series on Agents; on the Editorial Board of the Kluwer book series on “Multiagent Systems, Artificial Societies and Simulated Organizations”; the Area Editor for AI and Management Science of the journal “Group Decision and Negotiation”. She also serves on the editorial board of the journal “Agent Oriented Software Engineering”, “Web Intelligence and Agent Technologies”, “Journal of Infonomics”, “Fundamenda Informaticae”, and “Concurrent Engineering: Research and Applications”. She has served on the editorial board of the “ETAI journal on the Semantic Web” (1998-2001), on the Editorial Board of “IEEE Intelligent Systems and their Applications” (1992-1996), and “AI in Engineering” (1990-1996).