April 6, 2018

Paola Buitrago has been appointed as the founding director of the Artificial Intelligence & Big Data (AI&BD) Group at PSC. The group expands the scope of the center’s activities to enable research through the convergence of AI and high performance computing (HPC). Buitrago’s vision amplifies PSC’s emphasis on data-driven discovery and strengthens PSC’s connections across CMU and the private sector.

Recognizing that vital breakthroughs from increasingly complex AI models and data will require bringing HPC expertise to AI workflows, Buitrago is spearheading initiatives in technology, infrastructure and education. She inspired and is directing a new program (details forthcoming) to bring advanced technologies and human support to academic and private-sector groups seeking to apply AI to important problems. On PSC’s Bridges system, Buitrago is leading development of community datasets and “Big Data as a Service,” which will provide much-needed data assets to the research community. To meet critical needs for education in the rapidly-evolving AI landscape, she is driving development of best practices and supporting, through her group, large educational activities like AI courses and hackathons.

“Paola’s vision takes PSC’s strength in converged AI and HPC to a new level,” observed Nick Nystrom, interim director of PSC. “Her insight and focus on high-impact outcomes are what the community need in this exciting and rapidly evolving field.”

Buitrago brings a strong multidisciplinary background ideally suited to applying high performance AI to real-world problems. She has degrees in Systems and Computing Engineering and Chemical Engineering, and she developed and taught courses in machine learning. Prior to joining PSC, Buitrago led and developed data-intensive workflows including piloting machine learning in neutrino physics workflows at Fermilab, and applied generative adversarial networks (GANs, which augment otherwise limited data) at CMU for automatic background extraction from surveillance camera videos. Buitrago also contributes entrepreneurial experience applicable to Pittsburgh’s vibrant culture of translational research.