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NC State partners on new Institute for Artificial Intelligence

a green tree with a blue sky

An NC State computer science faculty member is part of a research institute dedicated to advancing artificial intelligence (AI) to improve agriculture and forestry systems that also benefit rural communities while combating climate impacts.

The AI Institute for Climate-Land Interactions, Mitigation, Adaptation, Tradeoffs and Economy (AI-CLIMATE) is one of seven new National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes announced by the National Science Foundation (NSF) earlier this month.

Led by the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, this institute aims to advance foundational AI by incorporating knowledge from agriculture and forestry sciences and leveraging these unique, new AI methods to curb climate effects while lifting rural economies. By creating a new scientific discipline and innovation ecosystem intersecting AI and climate-smart agriculture and forestry, AI-CLIMATE researchers and practitioners will discover and invent compelling AI-powered knowledge and solutions. Examples include AI-enhanced estimation methods of greenhouse gases and specialized field-to-market decision support tools. A key goal is to lower the cost of and improve accounting for carbon in farms and forests to empower carbon markets and inform decision-making. The institute will also expand and diversify rural and urban AI workforces. AI-CLIMATE is funded by the US Department of Agriculture’s Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Raju Ranga Vatsavai
Raju Ranga Vatsavai

Raju Ranga Vatsavai, Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program Geospatial Analytics Cluster Professor in the Department of Computer Science at NC State, is part of the effort. Vatsavai is also an associate director of NC State’s Center for Geospatial Analytics.

 Vatsavai will lead efforts to develop digital agriculture technologies, knowledge-guided AI approaches that exploit global earth observations, edge computing for real-time monitoring of agriculture and forestry resources, and decision-making under uncertainty.

Along with NC State, other partner institutions are Colorado State University, Cornell University, Delaware State University, Purdue University, and ISRIC Netherlands, along with several private companies, government agencies and nonprofits.

NSF in early May announced a $140 million investment to establish seven new National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes as part of a broader effort across the federal government to advance a cohesive approach to AI-related opportunities and risks.

The new AI Institutes will advance foundational AI research that promotes ethical and trustworthy AI systems and technologies, develop novel approaches to cybersecurity, contribute to innovative solutions to climate change, expand our understanding of the brain, and leverage AI capabilities to enhance education and public health.

NC State is the lead institution in the NSF AI Institute for Engaged Learning. Established in 2021 with a $20 million investment by NSF, the institute aims to create AI tools to advance human learning and education for a wide variety of audiences. In addition to NC State, the AI Institute for Engaged Learning includes researchers from Indiana University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt University and the educational non-profit organization Digital Promise.

This post was originally published in College of Engineering News.