Plenary Session Featuring The Fred Kavli Distinguished Lectureship in Materials Science

Monday, November 27
8:15 am – 9:30 am
Sheraton, 2nd Floor, Grand Ballroom

Plenary Speaker

Alán Aspuru-Guzik
Alán Aspuru-Guzik
University of Toronto


Alán Aspuru-Guzik’s research lies at the interface of computer science with chemistry and physics. He integrates robotics, machine learning and quantum chemistry to develop “self-driving laboratories,” accelerating rates of scientific discovery. He develops quantum computer algorithms and has pioneered quantum algorithms for the simulation of matter.

Aspuru-Guzik  is a professor of chemistry and computer science at the University of Toronto, faculty member at the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Director of the Acceleration Consortium, a University of Toronto-based strategic initiative that aims to gather researchers from industry, government and academia around topics related to the laboratories of the future.

Aspuru-Guzik was previously a full professor at Harvard University where he started his career in 2006. He is currently the Canada 150 Research Chair in Quantum Chemistry, CIFAR AI Chair at the Vector Institute and co-founder of Zapata Computing and Kebotix, two early-stage ventures in quantum computing and self-driving laboratories.

The Future of Chemistry Is Self-Driving

In this talk, I will overview the growing self-driving laboratories (SDLs) field. Self-driving laboratories are systems that help accelerate the process of scientific discovery or scale-up by employing artificial intelligence and automation for experiment planning and execution. Several SDLs have been already demonstrated globally, and the field is racing toward more robust and complex applications. I will go over essential elements of SDLs and will use examples from research from my group and collaborators.  In particular, I will talk about my group's work on organic lasers and organic battery development. I will also cover recent work on artificial intelligence for materials design. I will end with a timely discussion on AI for science. What would be the criteria for advanced AI that carry out chemical experiments? At the University of Toronto, we have launched the Acceleration Consortium (AC). This new significant initiative recently received CAD$200 million in funding to accelerate self-driving laboratories for chemistry, materials science and biotechnology. I will briefly discuss what the AC is doing and how to collaborate or get involved with our efforts.


The Kavli Foundation is dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity. The foundation’s mission is to stimulate basic research in astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics; strengthen the relationship between science and society; and honor scientific discoveries with The Kavli Prize. Learn more at and follow @kavlifoundation.

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