MBZUAI appoints AI scientist Ling Shao as executive vice president and provost

Dr. Shao will lead MBZUAI’s academic affairs and research, ensuring the University delivers world-class higher education and research in the field of AI


The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), the world’s first graduate-level, research-based artificial intelligence (AI) university, has announced the appointment of Dr. Ling Shao as the University’s Executive Vice President and Provost. In his role, Dr. Shao will lead MBZUAI’s academic affairs and research, ensuring the University delivers world-class higher education and research in the field of AI.

Dr. Shao will be part of MBZUAI’s leadership team, playing a pivotal role in ensuring that students receive a world-class education in a state-of-the-art campus, which is expected to be completed shortly.

With the first academic year scheduled to start in January 2021, the University is in the process of vetting thousands of applications from more than 80 countries. The first admissions letters will be sent to applicants soon.

In addition to his new role at MBZUAI, Dr. Shao also serves as CEO and Chief Scientist of the Inception Institute of Artificial Intelligence (IIAI), an Abu Dhabi-based international research organization dedicated to achieving breakthroughs in fundamental and applied AI research. MBZUAI is partnered with the IIAI for the supervision of PhD students and curriculum development. Under Dr. Shao’s leadership, IIAI will also serve as a principal partner for research collaboration.

Speaking on Dr. Shao’s appointment, MBZUAI Interim President, Professor Sir Michael Brady, said: “With his impeccable track record and undeniable expertise in the field of AI, Ling is an ideal choice for MBZUAI’s leadership team. It is a pleasure to welcome him aboard in his capacity as Executive Vice President and Provost. As the University prepares to welcome its first cohort in January 2021, we are making exceptional progress in putting the final details into place that will ensure MBZUAI is a world-leading establishment that will attract the finest young minds.”

Dr. Shao said: “AI is becoming an increasingly integral component of our everyday lives, which makes developing world-class talent and conducting in-depth research all the more important in order to advance our understanding and application of this versatile and essential technology. As the first establishment of its kind to focus solely on AI education and research, MBZUAI will play an important role in the future of our societies. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to guide the next generation of AI leaders.”

Prior to his involvement with IIAI, Dr. Shao spent nearly a decade advancing the field of AI at prestigious higher education institutions in the UK, including as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield, Chair Professor at Northumbria University, and Chair Professor at the University of East Anglia, where he also served as Director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab. He has also spent considerable time working as a Senior Scientist at Philips Research, after he obtained his PhD from the University of Oxford. As a result of his work, he has published over 400 scientific papers at leading conferences and journals and was selected as a ‘Highly Cited Researcher’ by the Web of Science in both 2018 and 2019.

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