Four master’s students receive Vector Scholarships in Artificial Intelligence

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Solaiappan Alagappan, Daniel Herman, Wanxin Li and Blake VanBerlo have each received a Vector Scholarship in Artificial Intelligence from the Vector Institute. Valued at $17,500, these prestigious graduate scholarships recognize exceptional students and support their studies in top artificial intelligence–related master’s program in Ontario.

Now in its third year of funding, the Vector Scholarship in Artificial Intelligence was awarded to 106 incoming master’s students, representing 31 AI graduate programs across 12 universities in the province. In addition to funding their studies, scholarship recipients will have access to the Vector Institute’s recently launched Digital Talent Hub, which connects highly skilled job seekers to employers, including Vector’s industry sponsors — companies at the forefront of AI adoption in Canada.

photo of Solaiappan AlagappanSolaiappan Alagappan will be pursuing a master’s degree this fall under the guidance of Cheriton School of Computer Science Professor Maura R. Grossman. Solaiappan believes that AI has the potential to make the world better and to enrich human lives. Using artificial intelligence, Solaiappan wants to work towards improving welfare of people and tackling some of the most challenging problems faced by society. His research aspirations include applying artificial intelligence to the fields of health and law.
Solaiappan completed an undergraduate degree in computer science, with distinction, at Madras Institute of Technology, India. He has notable publications in the domains of deep learning and cloud computing. His technical expertise and experience include internships in large manufacturing, information technology and banking conglomerates.

photo of Daniel HermanDaniel Herman will be pursuing a master’s degree this fall under the supervision of Cheriton School of Computer Science Professor Yaoliang Yu. Daniel believes that responsible development of artificial intelligence is crucial to increase human happiness and improve welfare. AI for social good allows society to reallocate resources towards innovation and to augment human mental capacity. To this end, his research will delve into knowledge representation and machine reasoning.

Daniel has an honours bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics from the University of British Columbia. He wrote a scholarly paper titled On Dykstra’s algorithm: Finite convergence, stalling, and the method of alternating projections with Heinz Bauschke, Regina Burachik, and C. Yalçın Kaya that was accepted for publication on May 22, 2020 in the journal Optimization Letters.

photo of Wanxin LiWanxin Li began her master’s degree in May 2020 on interpretable machine learning in metagenomics with Cheriton School of Computer Science Professors Yaoliang Yu and Lila Kari and Professor Laura Hug from the Department of Biology.

During her undergraduate degree in computer science at Waterloo, she completed three undergraduate research assistantships — a project on neuronal data visualization with Professor Reza Ramezan, research on query compilation with Professor Grant Weddell, and research on number theory with Professor Yu-Ru Liu. While an undergraduate student, Wanxin also interned with Dr. Anisoara Nica at SAP Labs, examining the problem of data synthesis in relational databases. This work resulted in a paper accepted for presentation at an ACM Special Interest Group on Management of Data conference.

photo of Blake VanBerloBlake VanBerlo will be pursuing a master’s degree this fall under the supervision of Cheriton School of Computer Science Professor Jesse Hoey. Blake believes that artificial intelligence can bring about positive changes in society. 

Blake’s research interests are in reinforcement learning — the training of machine-learning models to make a sequence of decisions — and its applications to healthcare.

Blake’s AI-related experience is both academic and professional. He as an undergraduate degree in software engineering from Western University as well as employment experience and strong interests in the medical sciences. He is currently employed as a consultant to the City of London, informing the municipality’s newly formed AI research group.

“Congratulations to Solaiappan Alagappan, Daniel Herman, Wanxin Li and Blake VanBerlo,” said Professor Justin Wan, Professor at the Cheriton School of Computer Science and its Director of Graduate Studies. “The generous support of the Vector Scholarship is particularly meaningful during this difficult time of pandemic. It helps our students achieve their goals in the pursuit of study in AI.”

The Vector Institute is an independent, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to advancing artificial intelligence, excelling in machine and deep learning. Vector’s vision is to drive excellence and leadership in Canada’s knowledge, creation and use of AI to foster economic growth and improve the lives of Canadians. The Vector Institute is funded by the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada through the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy administered by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and industry sponsors across Canada.

Vector Scholarship quick facts

  • 106 master’s scholarships were awarded this funding cycle
  • 242 scholarships have been awarded to date
  • Number of institutions with recipients in this cycle of funding: 12
  • Number of AI programs receiving scholarships this cycle of funding: 31
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