About - Davis Institute for AI

About

OUR MISSION

Establish Colby as a nationally recognized center of excellence in interdisciplinary human-centered AI teaching and research.

CORE TEAM

Amanda Stent

Director, Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence
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Student office hours: MWF 11:00 am – 12:00 pm; TTh 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Amanda Stent came to Colby in 2021 to fulfill the college’s vision of establishing Colby as a nationally recognized center of excellence in interdisciplinary human-centered AI teaching and research. Rich with experience from her time at Bloomberg, Yahoo, AT&T Labs, as well as her time at Stony Brook University as an associate professor of computer science, Amanda’s enthusiasm for AI and the idea of what AI can do for the faculty, staff and students at Colby, is a great asset to all.

Amanda holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Rochester. She is the co-inventor of over 30 patents and has authored or co-authored over 100 papers in the field of natural language processing.

Amy Poulin

Assistant Director, Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence
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Amy Poulin joins the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence as the Associate Director. With over 15 years of experience here at Colby in both academic and administrative areas, she has a deep understanding of how Colby works. When she isn’t at Colby working toward the mission of our institute, she enjoys spending time watching her children play sports and camping.

Amy has a B.S. of Biology from the University of Maine and has a love for the Sciences.

Tahiya Chowdhury

Postdoctoral Associate, Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence
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Faculty office hours: TWTh 3:00 – 4:00 pm

Tahiya Chowdhury is the first Davis AI postdoctoral scholar. Her research uses time series modeling, computer vision and social media analytics to model dynamically changing physical environments. She is interested in energy-efficient and privacy-preserving deep learning. She will conduct research, consult with Colby faculty, staff and students on AI projects, and teach hands-on introductions to AI.

Alejandra Ortiz

Faculty Fellow, Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence
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Alejandra Ortiz is a geologist researching climate change impacts in small island nations. As a 2022-23 faculty fellow with the Institute, she will develop deep learning approaches to automate the classification and segmentation of atolls and to model climate impacts on atolls over time.

Veronica Romero '09

Faculty Fellow, Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence
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Veronica Romero is a psychologist researching the dynamics that arise when people work together to complete tasks in varying situations. As a 2022-23 faculty fellow with the Institute, she will develop a deep learning approach to model the pattern of behaviors that differentiate those with autism spectrum disorder and those without during conversation.

Max Jacobs

Fall Semester Developer

Max is a junior from New York, NY, double majoring in Computer Science and Studio Art with a Photography concentration. His interests are soccer, skiing, data science club and photography.

Meredith Green

Spring Semester Developer

Meredith is a junior from Winchester, MA, double majoring in Computer Science and Mathematical Science. Her interests include drawing, running and playing pickle ball.

Internal Advisory Committee

The Davis Institute for AI Internal Advisory Committee is composed of faculty, staff and students from across the College.

2022-2023 Members: Jim Behuniak (Humanities), Stacy Doore (Computer Science), Aaron Hanlon (Science and Technology Studies & Interdisciplinary Studies), Kara Kugelmeyer (Libraries), Derek Huffman (Social Sciences), Andrea Tilden (Natural Sciences), Dan Siff (ITS), Carolyn Anderson (DavisConnects),  Izzy Hurley ’23 (Student Member),  Katie Bernard ’25 (Student Member),  Kalyan Khatiwada ’26 (Student Member),  Peggy Jones ’26 (Student Member)

External Advisory Committee

The Davis Institute for AI External Advisory Committee is composed of Colby alumni and corporate / government / NGO partners.

Profiled External Advisory Board Member: Kristofer Hamel, World Data Lab.


Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators In 2021-22:

  • 19% of faculty, spanning all four divisions, taught courses that involve AI
  • 15% of students took courses that involve AI
  • 6 Davis AI distinguished speaker series talks, including one co-hosted with the Medical Humanities initiative and one co-hosted with the Critical and Indigenous Studies initiative

Made possible by the Davis Family.

AREAS OF FOCUS

Economics & Finance

Exploring how artificial intelligence and machine learning can process large volumes of information and identify patterns to analyze market behavior and interactions among consumers, firms, and governments.

Computational Social Sciences

Examining the human condition through artificial intelligence by gathering and analyzing data to understand human thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.

 

Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, & Genomics

Strengthening our research and preparing students to use big data to benefit fields ranging from ecology to medicine.

 

The Environment & the Oceans

Providing enhanced computational resources, training, and collaborators to support Colby’s ability to keep pace with the rapidly changing tools and techniques for studying the environment. 

 

Ethics & Society

Filling the need for future leaders of this field to have an appreciation of history, culture, and societies, and the ability to think critically about a range of issues.

Faculty across disciplines—philosophers, ethicists, sociologists, and more—will explore the ethical implications of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Recent Publications

  • * Good, A., Lin, J., Sieg, H., Fergurson, M., Yu, X., Zhe, S., Wieczorek, J., & Serra, T. (2022). Recall distortion in neural network pruning and the undecayed pruning algorithm. In Proc. NeurIPS. arXiv preprint: https://arxiv.org/abs/2206.02976.
  • * Al Madi, N. (2022) How readable is model-generated code? Examining readability and visual inspection of GitHub Copilot. To appear in Proceedings of ASE 2022. 
  • * Li, Y., Li, C., Chen, J., & Roinou, C. (2022) Energy-aware multi-agent reinforcement learning for collaborative execution in mission-oriented drone networks. In Proceedings of IEEE ICCCN.
  • * Layton, O. W., & Fajen, B. R. (2022). Distributed encoding of curvilinear self-motion across spiral optic flow patterns. Scientific Reports, 12(1), 1-15. [HTML] nature.com
  • * Maus, N., & Layton, O. W. (2022). Estimating heading from optic flow: Comparing deep learning network and human performance. Neural Networks, 154, 383-396. [HTML] sciencedirect.com
  • * Layton, O. W., Powell, N., Steinmetz, S. T., & Fajen, B. R. (2022). Estimating curvilinear self-motion from optic flow with a biologically inspired neural system. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 17(4), 046013. [PDF] iop.org
  • * Steinmetz, S. T., Layton, O. W., Powell, N. V., & Fajen, B. R. (2022). A Dynamic Efficient Sensory Encoding Approach to Adaptive Tuning in Neural Models of Optic Flow Processing. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 16. [HTML] nih.gov*

Made possible by the Davis Family.

Made possible by the tremendous generosity of the Davis family and trustee of its charitable foundation Andrew Davis ’85, LL.D. ’15, the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence will provide new pathways for talented students and faculty to research, create, and apply AI and machine learning (ML) across disciplines while setting a precedent for how liberal arts colleges can shape the future of AI.

For decades the Davis family, through The Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund, has contributed generously to the evolution of the academic and cocurricular experience at Colby, and the Davis Institute builds on this tradition of leadership. With Andrew Davis’s support, his family provided a $25-million gift in 2017 to create DavisConnects, Colby’s innovative model for post-graduate success, as well as a $10-million lead gift in 2013 to construct the Davis Science Center on Colby’s campus. In 2000 the Davis family selected Colby as one of five partner institutions to pilot the Davis United World College Scholars Program (UWC), which funded UWC graduates’ attendance at Colby and continues to make a profound impact at the College.