UVA: Max Welling will lead new Microsoft Research Lab in Amsterdam

22 Jul 2021 | Network Updates | Update from University of Amsterdam
These updates are republished press releases and communications from members of the Science|Business Network

As of September 2021, Max Welling Informatics Institute, will be joining Microsoft to head the new Lab. He will keep his appointment at the University of Amsterdam as full professor and continue to supervise his students and postdocs.

Chris Bishop, and Max Welling, announced that the new satellite Microsoft Research Lab in Amsterdam, which, in collaboration with researchers at the labs in Cambridge, UK, and Beijing, China, will be focused on molecular simulation using machine learning.

Machine learning, molecular simulation, and the opportunity for societal good
Unlocking the challenge of molecular simulation has the potential to yield significant breakthroughs in how we tackle such societal issues as climate change, drug discovery, and the treatment of disease, and Microsoft is ramping up its efforts in the space.

In a podcast episode, Chris Bishop, Lab Director of Microsoft Research Cambridge, welcomes renowned machine learning researcher Max Welling to the Microsoft Research team. Connecting over their shared physics background and vision for molecular simulation, Bishop and Welling explore several fascinating topics, including a future in which machine learning and quantum computing will be used in tandem to model molecules, the power of machine learning to provide “on demand” data in this space, and goals for the first year and beyond at the Amsterdam lab.

Microsoft Research Podcast 'Machine learning, molecular simulation, and the opportunity for societal good with Chris Bishop and Max Welling', 20 July 2021.

Reaction Alfons Hoekstra, director Informatics Institute UvA

I am excited to learn that Microsoft Research will come to Amsterdam and that Max Welling will be setting up a team to probe into the combination of molecular simulation and machine learning, which has a huge potential both scientifically and in terms of applications and societal impact.

This will not only further strengthen the AI ecosystem in Amsterdam but will also contribute in a massive way to apply machine learning in molecular simulations and also, as I would hope, in the broader field of the computational sciences. I look forward to fruitful collaborations between MSR and IvI.

Max will stay linked to IvI as full professor and keep education and supervising next generations of AI / Machine Learning experts.

He inspires both his peers and students on how his fundamental scientific research in machine learning can be translated to true societal impact, as he demonstrated first via his Scyfer start-up, then at Qualcomm, and now at Microsoft Research.

Reaction Max Welling

I am super excited to announce that I will be joining Microsoft Research (MSR) as a distinguished scientist on September 1, 2021. MSR will open a new office in Amsterdam where I will help assemble a diverse team of researchers and engineers to work on the problem of molecular simulation.

Why am I so excited about this challenge?
Literally everything physical in the world, except electromagnetism, gravity and some other more exotic forces, is made up of molecules. Yet, due to the fact that nature is quantum mechanical we cannot simulate them very accurately on a classical computer. With the recent advances in machine learning, such as equivariant graph neural networks, and with the increasing amount of available compute power, both classical and quantum, I expect that we can make very significant progress over the next decade.

 And the potential applications that come with our improved understanding of molecules and chemical reactions are plenty: improved drugs to fight disease, better catalysts for green technology such as electrolysis, carbon capture and nitrogen fixation, and new materials with amazing properties.

This article was first published on July 20 by University of Amsterdam.

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