UCR’s first Campus Interdisciplinary Research Center announced

June 14, 2024
Elizabeth Watkins and Rodolfo Torres
June 14, 2024

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Elizabeth Watkins and Vice Chancellor of Research and Economic Development (VCRED) Rodolfo Torres are pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the review process for naming the inaugural Campus Interdisciplinary Research Center, or CIRC. After a thorough review process, the Riverside Artificial Intelligence ReSEarch, or RAISE, Institute has been selected.

Sixteen outstanding proposals were submitted, each showcasing the exceptional talent and innovative thinking present among our faculty. These proposals were closely reviewed by a committee comprised of all academic deans, the chair of the Senate Committee on Research, the Provost, and VCRED. The quality and diversity of the proposals made the selection process highly competitive. 

In the end, the RAISE Institute was chosen because it most closely addressed all aspects of the solicitation, demonstrating a clear vision for how it will lead Artificial Intelligence (AI) research and applications, contributing to societal progress in an ethical manner. The institute will commence operations this summer, with the start of the new fiscal year. 

The RAISE Institute will be co-directed by Professor and Bourns Family Faculty Fellow Amit Roy-Chowdhury from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE), and Professor Vassilis Tsotras from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, BCOE. The proposal for RAISE was well-structured, with a clear common theme uniting many areas of development and applications of AI. It brings together multiple collaborations, external funding, and intellectual property (IP) development already happening in several areas on campus. The RAISE Institute boasts a large group of researchers from all seven colleges and schools. The proposal included over 85 faculty members (about 10% of UCR’s total) as participants and leveraged a wide range of faculty expertise, positioning UCR at the forefront of AI research, education, and applications within the UC system.

AI is a national priority. The National Science Foundation states that “AI-driven discoveries and technologies are transforming Americans' daily lives — promising practical solutions to global challenges, from food production and climate change to healthcare and education.”  The National Institutes of Health asserts that “NIH has unique needs that can drive the development of novel approaches and application of existing tools in AI/ML. From electronic health record data, omics data, imaging data, disease-specific data, and beyond, NIH is poised to create and implement large and far-reaching applications using AI and its components.” The National Endowment for the Humanities affirms that “Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most powerful technologies of our time and will have profound consequences for civil rights and civil liberties, safety and security, and democratic values. Questions about the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI are fundamentally rooted in the humanities, which include ethics, law, history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, media studies, and cultural studies.” The RAISE proposal effectively articulates the funding possibilities associated with such emphases as well as many other opportunities with multiple funding agencies. 

Furthermore, AI is increasingly attracting public attention and scrutiny. For example, as recently described in an AAU President’s Report, a 2023 Pew Research Center study concluded that “52% of Americans are more concerned than excited about AI in daily life” and that there is also growing interest in regulations for AI tools.” Quoting AAU President Barbara Snyder, “these recent studies also suggest the public isn’t certain that government or industry will be able to regulate AI as it continues to develop. This may be an area of opportunity; AAU’s own study from last year showed that Americans trust leading research universities more than most other institutions – and especially tech companies – to develop AI.” As a forward-looking AAU member, UCR is well-positioned, through the RAISE Institute, to play an important role in public education on AI, as well as in the research-informed development of responsible regulations.

We thank both the applicants who responded to the CIRC solicitation with such creative proposals and the members of the selection committee for their time, effort, and insightful reviews. 

The Office of Research and Economic Development (RED) will post the abstracts of other proposals submitted for this competition on its Research Facilities & Initiatives webpage, aiming to foster further faculty engagement with these initiatives.