Introduction to New SOCS Professors

Sept. 2, 2019

The School of Computer Science is expanding with three new faculty members: Reihaneh Rabbany (joined in July 2018), Siamak Ravanbakhsh, and Blake Richards. They will be leading research groups in network science, deep representation learning, and computational neuroscience, as well as teaching initiatives in the department. They join other new professors who have started at SOCS over the past year, including Yue Li and Will Hamilton.

Reihaneh Rabbany’s research is at the intersection of network science, data mining and machine learning, with a focus on analyzing real-world interconnected data, and social good applications. She joined McGill as an Assistant Professor at the School of Computer Science in July 2018. She is a Canada CIFAR AI Chair and a core member of Mila, Quebec’s AI Institute. Before joining McGill, she was a Postdoctoral fellow at the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, and completed her Ph.D. in Computing Science Department at the University of Alberta.

Link to Prof. Rabbany's website:

Symmetry has played a significant role in modern sciences from the study of crystals in chemistry to constraining the natural laws in physics. Siamak Ravanbakhsh’s research investigates how symmetry could play a similarly fundamental role in AI. In particular, recent works by Siamak and his collaborators explore principled methods for deep representation learning from this perspective. This research has so far lead to simple yet powerful deep models for several widely used structures, from sets and graphs to polytopes and relational databases.

Link to Prof. Ravanbakhsh’s website:

Blake Richards is an Assistant Professor in the School of Computer Science and the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University and a Core Faculty Member at Mila. From 2014 to July 2019 he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Biological Sciences (Scarborough) with a cross-appointment to the Department of Cell and Systems Biology and a Faculty Affiliation at the Vector Institute. He was the 2019 Canadian Association for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award Recipient, and one of 29 Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Canada AI Chairs announced in 2018. He is also a Fellow of the CIFAR Learning in Machines and Brains Program, and a Lab Scientist with the Creative Destruction Lab. From October 2011 to December 2013, Dr. Richards was a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Frankland at SickKids Hospital, where he studied memory consolidation and neural plasticity. From 2007 to 2010, he was a Welcome Trust 4-year PhD student at the University of Oxford in the Department of Pharmacology with Dr. Colin Akerman, where he explored synaptic plasticity in Xenopus laevis embryos. During the MSc component of the program he worked with Dr. Wyeth Bair and Dr. Ole Paulsen, studying computational models of visual processing and voltage bistability in neocortical dendrites. Before his graduate studies, he worked as a programmer and research analyst in magnetic resonance imaging at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health from 2004-2006. Dr. Richards received his Bachelors degree in Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence from the University of Toronto in 2004.

Link to Prof. Richards's website: