Kempner Institute Announces the Appointment of Two New Associate Faculty Members

June 27, 2024

Pioneering research scientists appointed to 3-year terms to study the basis of intelligence in natural and artificial systems

David Alvarez-Melis (left) and Patrick Slade will join the Kempner Institute as associate faculty on July 1, 2024.

CAMBRIDGE, MA— The Kempner Institute for the Study of Natural and Artificial Intelligence at Harvard is pleased to announce the appointment of David Alvarez-Melis and Patrick Slade as associate faculty members. 

Both Alvarez-Melis and Slade are current Harvard faculty members whose pioneering work in the fields of natural and artificial intelligence advances the Kempner Institute’s core scientific mission. The two newly-announced associate faculty members will begin their appointments at the Kempner Institute on July 1, 2024.

David Alvarez-Melis, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, researches fundamental principles of artificial intelligence, with a particular focus in understanding, characterizing, and advancing methods for learning in constrained (e.g., data-scarce), dynamic (e.g., time-drifting), and complex (e.g., multi-modal) environments—all settings where natural intelligence excels. Alvarez-Melis’s work takes a data-centric approach, focusing on studying and intervening the inputs and latent representations of deep learning models using statistical-geometric methods like optimal transport theory. Much of his recent research is motivated by problems in the natural sciences and seeks to develop “scientific artificial intelligence” by finding a deeper understanding —and in-silico emulation— of various aspects of human intelligence that are fundamental for scientific thinking and discovery. 

Patrick Slade, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, uses biomechanics, advanced robotic devices, and human-centered artificial intelligence to develop tools to improve people’s mobility. His lab, the Harvard Ability Lab, focuses on uncovering the causal links between cognition and motor control using neuroscience studies of human movement and developing novel AI techniques that encapsulate this neural and biomechanical behavior. Leveraging these AI models, informed by natural intelligence, Slade and his team are able to better understand movement, improve rehabilitation, and augment mobility with assistive devices. 

Alvarez-Melis and Slade will join the Kempner’s eight current associate faculty. Kempner Institute associate faculty play a critical role in the institute, collaborating with other community members to advance research, make fundamental discoveries, develop programming, and shape the institute’s scientific direction.

About the Kempner Institute

The Kempner Institute seeks to understand the basis of intelligence in natural and artificial systems by recruiting and training future generations of researchers to study intelligence from biological, cognitive, engineering, and computational perspectives. Its bold premise is that the fields of natural and artificial intelligence are intimately interconnected; the next generation of artificial intelligence (AI) will require the same principles that our brains use for fast, flexible natural reasoning, and understanding how our brains compute and reason can be elucidated by theories developed for AI. Join the Kempner mailing list to learn more, and to receive updates and news.