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On Wednesday 24 January, researchers of the Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) welcomed the University of Amsterdam’s Executive Board on a working visit to the Faculty of Science.
The UvA Board visiting the HIMS laboratories. On the far left is rector magnificus Peter-Paul Verbeek; president of the board Geert ten Dam is third from the left. On the right, seen in profile, is vice president Jan Lintsen. Not in the picture but also visiting was Leon van de Zande, general secretary of the UvA. Image: HIMS

After visiting the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS), the Board was welcomed at HIMS where the focus was on the synergy between chemistry and artificial intelligence. According to prof. Wybren Jan Buma, scientific director of HIMS: "Molecular chemistry is a perfect example of a discipline where Artifical Intelligence methods can provide groundbreaking breakthroughs. At HIMS, we have all the expertise needed to make that happen: from the in silico design of molecular systems and materials to their experimental validation."

RoboChem and AI4Science

The UvA Executive Board visited the laboratories of the Flow Chemistry group led by Prof. Timothy Noël. He showcased the RoboChem platform, an AI-augmented robotic system designed for self-optimization and scaling up of photocatalysis in continuous flow processes. The unique platform, presented last Friday in a paper in Science, empowers chemists to discover optimal reaction conditions with greater speed and efficiency.

Then a presentation followed by Dr Bernd Ensing and Dr Patrick Forré of the AI4Science Lab. They showed how machine learning helps scientific research on a wide range of topics ranging from predicting bird migration to modeling gravitational waves. And vice versa, the scientific research also leads to new powerful machine learning algorithms.

This year, the first generation of AI4Science PhD students will graduate, working on collaborative projects within the FNWI institutes API, IoP, HIMS, SILS, IBED, and IvI. Each of these five projects showcased that AI development and application for scientific discovery is state-of-the-art at the UvA Faculty of Science.

Bernd Ensing (at left) and Patrick Forré explaining about the AI4Science lab. Image: HIMS
The visit took place in a relaxed atmosphere. Image: HIMS.