Professor Robin Cohen receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Canadian Artificial Intelligence Association

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

photo of Robin CohenProfessor Robin Cohen has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Artificial Intelligence Association. She is the first female recipient of the Association’s highest honour, an award that is conferred to individuals who have distinguished themselves through outstanding research excellence in artificial intelligence during the course of their academic career.

Since obtaining her PhD three and a half decades ago, Professor Cohen has made significant and sustained contributions to artificial intelligence, noted Professor Peter van Beek in his nomination letter. “Robin has authored more than 235 refereed publications — including 10 book chapters, more than 45 journal papers, and over 180 refereed conference and workshop papers,” he wrote. “She has made deep contributions to AI, including to the areas of computational linguistics, user modelling, temporal reasoning, plan recognition, agents, and trust and reputation modelling in electronic marketplaces.”

“There is a thread through Robin’s research that shows her continuous and ongoing interest in deep issues in applied artificial intelligence and her ability to grow and change as these issues mutate and evolve,” wrote Professor Emeritus Gordon McCalla, a colleague from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan, in his nomination letter.

He continued: “She has the great capacity to be able, early on, to recognize the importance of an emerging research area, often a natural outgrowth of her previous research, and then has the insight and creativity (along with her students) to make pioneering contributions to this new area. Her work, both old and recent, continues to have influence in user modelling, multi-agent systems, and artificial intelligence some 40 years into her career.”

Professor Cohen is also celebrated and recognized for her leadership in graduate education and mentorship. Six of her graduate students have won significant awards, including the Governor General Gold Medal, the Alumni Gold Medal, and the Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Studies Award. Her graduate students hold faculty positions across the country. In 2009, she received the University of Waterloo Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision in recognition of her excellence in mentoring and, in 2008, she won the Waterloo Faculty of Mathematics Distinguished Teaching Award.

“Congratulations to Robin for this well-deserved award,” said Mark Giesbrecht, Director of the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. “She has made pioneering contributions to artificial intelligence research and has been consistently an exemplar of graduate student supervision and mentoring.”

This sentiment is echoed by Professor van Beek, as he recollects his days as a graduate student. “I was Robin’s first Master’s student and her first PhD student,” he said. “Robin was an exemplary supervisor and mentor, and she was instrumental in helping me establish my own career — for which I am exceedingly grateful.”

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