UofA finalist in the Women in AI Awards

Congratulations to Dr Thushari Atapattu from the School of Computer Science who has been confirmed as a finalist in the Women in AI Awards for Australia and New Zealand. 

There are 11 categories in the Women in AI Awards, covering different sectors and applications of AI (e.g. Health, Defence, Mining, Cyber Security etc), and Dr Atapattu is one of 3 finalists in the ‘AI in Education’ category.

Each of the 11 award categories are judged on innovation, leadership and inspiring potential, global potential and impact, and ability for the AI solution to do good for the community and citizens. The winner within each category, to be announced at the Gala Dinner, will also be eligible for the Grand Award: 2021 Australia-New Zealand Innovator of the Year. The Gala Dinner will be held this year on 26 March 2021 at the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art, and is hosted by multi-award-winning STEM journalist and Science and Technology Editor for NITV, Rae Johnston.

Congratulations again to Dr Atapattu for her achievement and wish her luck at the Gala dinner!

About Dr Thushari Atapattu

Thushari Atapattu from the School of Computer Science wears a green flower top and is smiling.

Dr Atapattu applies AI to address societal problems in cyberspace, creating and applying leading edge AI-based solutions to address cyberbullying, mental health issues, and improve education outcomes.

Dr Atapattu has co-founded and leads the Language Technology for Social Good (LT4SG) initiative at the University of Adelaide, where she leads a team of 9 students and staff in better understanding the latent discourse aspects in large corpora of natural language text and applying this understanding to build computational models that can improve human communication processes. This work supports the use of AI to enhance society, including early detection of cyberbullying cases allowing intervention, increasing understanding of COVID-19 on fragile communities, and in supporting students and teachers in large scale in getting the most out of education opportunities including in detecting students’ confusion expressed using language, and mapping the relationship between students’ engagement behaviour within educational videos and related teachers’ discourse. 

Dr Atapattu has worked as a Research Associate in the Computer Science Education Research Group (CSER) since graduating with a PhD in Computer Science in 2015, and also serves as the technical lead for CSER’s national program on teacher professional development in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cyber Security, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (XR). This program serves over 38,000 primary and secondary teachers across Australia, providing current technology education opportunities to more than 1 million students. 

Her work has been recognized an awarded Australian Federation of University Women SA Postdoctoral award (2019), Adelaide Women’s Research Excellence Award (2018), and a finalist for the Google Anita Borg Scholarship in Asia-Pacific (2013) for the contributions of excellence in Computer Science. She is also a recipient of grants from Australian Defense (AI for decision making initiative), Google USA, Google Aus & NZ, AusCyber, and the Common Wealth Department of Education.

The WAI Awards 2021 will honour the top Australian and New Zealand female innovators in AI: the pioneers who are taking the road less travelled; the women who are paving the way for others to reach even further and for those who dare to dream even bigger. As a visionary researcher, Dr Atapattu is passionate about better understanding the human language & mind, using that understanding to find better AI solutions to achieve her dream in creating positive change in the world.

Tagged in computer and mathematical sciences, Latest News and Achievements, Women in STEM