She aimed at medicine, she discovers artificial intelligence

Reem Aswell

Credit: Maryse Boyce

It is the keen interest in medicine expressed from early childhood that led to Rem Aswell receiving his Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Montreal under the supervision of Joshua Bengio. “I knew I was going to study for a long time. I dreamed of being a neurosurgeon,” she said, laughing during a video interview.

The young woman whose family of Moroccan origin had settled in France had an excellent scholastic career which undoubtedly allowed her to consider medicine, for she had qualified for the major schools at the end of the baccalaureate at Lycée Louis Legrand. But her discovery of “data science” temporarily diverted her from that goal, and she completed training in the discipline at the École Polytechnique de Paris in 2017. These undergraduate studies led her to do internships in London, Singapore and Tokyo, where she became enamored with the challenges of artificial intelligence. “When I heard about Mila and Joshua Bengio’s work, I immediately wanted to come to Montreal,” sums up the person who had just received the $20,000 2020 Antidote Scholarship. This welcome encouragement comes on top of scholarships for deserving research students.

As soon as I submitted my master’s thesis, last August, about deep learning, I started doing my Ph.D. “It is still too early to define my research topic, but I am interested in the concept of the object in artificial intelligence and in particular through ‘permanence.’ It is self-evident for you and me to imagine that the keys I put in my bag are still there and stay in my bag even if I move. For an algorithm Relying on a series of pixels linked together, this abstraction is not self-evident,” she stated.

Save lives part time

Rem Aswell’s first passion in her field of research was related to human health, since she initially worked on medical imaging. Several studies are looking at medical applications that can provide valuable services to clinicians. For example, an experienced surgeon looking for the first signs of a tumor can monitor an x-ray by comparing it with ten or even a hundred similar images. With artificial intelligence, millions of photos enter the bank…

In addition, his “need to interact with people” was able to express himself through his voluntary actions in the Gennevilliers barracks, on the outskirts of Paris. In the French capital region, paramedics are not enough to do the job, and “first responders” are often people trained to present themselves at the scene of a disaster in order to provide emergency care.

In 2014 and 2015, Reem Aswell led a group of three speakers. Among other things, she has practiced dozens of cardio massage sessions. But the most challenging scenes I witnessed were interventions with people in psychological distress. “Being the point of contact for someone who no longer wants to be a part of this world made me realize the beauty of this job!” declare.

love mila

If she hasn’t finally turned the page on her dream of becoming a doctor, she is focusing all her energy on her PhD research project. How are things going in Montreal? She replied, “Very well.” I love the city. But I especially like my lab. I’m very attached to him.”

Although the pandemic has slowed the pace of exchanges and virtually halted face-to-face meetings, it has continued to organize weekly conferences ( mila tea talksThe researchers are in turn invited to present their work to their colleagues. The meetings have been very successful, both in terms of participation (up to 80 people) and in terms of the quality of the presentations.

Confinement is a limitation, of course, but it has given him the opportunity to resume his artistic activities in his Mile End apartment. “I started drawing and first of all I took the piano, which I was studying as a child. Mainly Bach and Chopin, and more and more improvisation. I must say it is nice to have some time for these activities.

about miles

Founded in 1993 by Professor Yoshua Bengio from the University of Montreal, Mila is an artificial intelligence research institute that today has more than 500 researchers specializing in the field of deep and enhanced learning. Headquartered in Montreal, Mila is a non-profit organization recognized worldwide for its significant contributions to the field of deep learning, particularly in the areas of language modeling, machine translation, object recognition, and generative models.

Leave a Comment