Plenary Speakers

Mikel Diez Parra

Mikel Diez Parra
Quantum Global Enablement Lead - IBM Research (Spain)

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Chee Kit LOOI

Chee Kit LOOI
The Education University of Hong Kong (China)

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Martin Saska

Martin Saska
Czech Technical University in Prague (Czech Republic)

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Jeffrey Alan Tomalka

Jeffrey Alan Tomalka
Emory University (USA)

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Adriana Tomic

Adriana Tomic
Boston University (USA)

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Mikel Diez Parra

Mikel Diez Parra

Quantum Global Enablement Lead - IBM Research (Spain)

Mikel is a thinker by nature, that has led him to lead Tech Innovation programs for clients across different industries, always thinking first then solving, and always within the paradigm of “technology as THE disruptor”.

In his current position at IBM, Mikel performs the role of Head of Innovation for Spain, Portugal, Greece and Israel markets, acting as a Business & Tech trusted advisor with focus in Artificial Intelligence. In addition, Mikel is an Enterprise Design Thinking Certified Coach and Quantum Ambassador.

Mikel holds a career for more than 27 years of experience in the IT services & vendors market, combining highly proficient in software technologies with business wisdom and interpersonal skills to positively contribute to organization’s bottom-line.

Mikel has published a joint publication of a book around Cognitive Customer eXperience and he is a regular speaker at events, lectures and programs about Artificial Intelligence.

Chee Kit LOOI

Chee Kit LOOI

The Education University of Hong Kong (China)

Professor Looi Chee Kit is Research Chair Professor in the Education University of Hong Kong. He is Emeritus Professor at National Institute of Education (NIE) of Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

During his stint in Singapore, Professor Looi Chee-Kit was with the Learning Sciences and Assessment Academic Group in the National Institute of Education (NIE) of Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He was the Co-Director of the Center for Research and Development into Learning (CRDL) of NIE, NTU.

Professor Looi was the Founding Head of the Learning Sciences Lab (LSL) of NIE (2005-2008; 2015-1018), the first research center devoted to the study of the sciences of learning in the Asia-Pacific region. He also served as the Head of the Centre of Excellence for Learning Innovation (COELI) of NIE (2008 – 2012).

Professor Looi received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh, UK, and MSc from the University of British Columbia, Canada. He was a senior research scientist (1988-1997), an assistant director (1997-2000) in the Information Technology Institute of Singapore, a senior program director in the Institute of Systems Sciences of the National University of Singapore before joining the Learning Sciences & Technologies Academic Group of NIE, NTU in 2004. Prof Looi was working as an associate professor (2004-2010) and full professor (2010-present) in the Learning Sciences & Technologies Academic Group, NIE, NTU.

Professor Looi’s research focuses on learning sciences, computer-supported collaborative learning, mobile learning, AI & Education, and computational thinking. He has published more than 120 international journal papers, more than 50 books or book chapters, and 160 refereed international conference papers. In 2022, In Google Scholar, Web of Science, and Scopus, the number of publications indexed mounts to 362, 134, and 223 respectively, with citation counts of 10201, 2361, and 3282. Professor Looi has given more than 85 keynotes, plenary, and invited talks at international conferences and institutions. He has served as the principal investigator (PI) for Co-PI for more than 20 research projects funded by the Ministry of Education and the National Research Fund of Singapore, the Workforce Development Applied Research Fund, the General Research Fund of Hong Kong, China, or Google. His research has translated into high impacts on educational practices. His work on rapid collaborative learning was cited in the 2010 US National Educational Technology Plan as a key example of technology-enabled innovation of significant practical impact. His mobile learning projects were featured in the US-based Sesame Workshop’s 2009 report on "Pockets of Potential: Using Mobile Technologies to Promote Children’s Learning" which ended with a proposal to the Obama government to adopt a multi-sector action plan to transform mobile learning. His published research work over the years covers the life span of K-12 to higher education to adult learning and lifelong learning.

Professor Looi is a Fellow of the International Society of Learning Sciences, and a Fellow of the Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education. He is an academic committee member of the Education Informatization Strategy Research Base of the Ministry of Education of China, and a member of the International Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the national doctoral program of UPGRADE Sweden. He was the founding member of the Global Chinese Society of Computers in Education, its advisory board member, and served as its President (2017-2019). He was a member of the Core Expert Group for developing the framework for assessing Collaborative Problem Solving in OECD PISA 2015, an expert with the New York Academy of Sciences, and a special consultant to the Smart Learning Institute of Beijing Normal University.

Professor Looi is currently an associate editor for the International Journal of Artificial Intelligence & Education, the International Journal on Computer Science Education, an editorial member of the International Journal of Computers-Supported Collaborative Learning, the Journal of Computer-Assisted Learning, and the Journal of Smart Learning Environments, a review editor for Frontiers in Psychology and Frontiers in Education, the general editor of series entitled Routledge Advances in the Learning Sciences, an editorial board member of series entitled The Future of Learning by IOS Press, and an honorary advisor of the Journal of Computers in Education. He also served as an associate editor for the Journal of the Learning Sciences, an editorial board member of IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, and the managing editor of the International Journal on Information Technology.

Professor Looi chaired or co-chaired many international conference programs including but not limited to the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (2016), International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (2011, 2013), IEEE International Conference on Wireless, Mobile & Ubiquitous Technologies in Education (2012), IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (2004), International Conference on Computers in Education (1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2009), International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Education (2005, 2011, 2013), and Global Chinese Conference on Computers in Education (2000, 2010, 2013, 2021).

In 2021, Professor Looi was listed in the annual list of the Top 2% of Career Scientists Worldwide, compiled by Stanford University and Elsevier, and identified as the second most influential author of mobile learning worldwide in a review study published in Telematics and Informatics. He was recognized as one of Singapore’s top computer scientists in the sixth edition of the Top 1000 Scientists in the Field of Computer Science and Electronics Worldwide by Guide2Research (2020), ranked among All-Time Top-100 Authors Worldwide in the Field of Educational Technology by Microsoft Academic Authors Analytics (2019), and listed in the Top-40 authors worldwide in journal publications on the area of Instructional Design and Technology between 2007 and 2017 by a study published in the British Journal on Educational Technology (2018). He has received more than 10 Best/Outstanding Paper awards at international conferences.

Over the years, Prof Looi has given keynote addresses at international conferences held in Chile, Spain, Sweden, Israel, United States of America, Finland, Australia, Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, UAE, and Singapore.

Martin Saska

Martin Saska

Czech Technical University in Prague (Czech Republic)

"Real-world applications of cooperating aerial robots"

Agile and tightly cooperating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in demanding real-world environments with high density of obstacles (such as forest) will be discussed in this talk. Deployment of teams of flying robots without external localization such as GNSS and motion capture systems bring numerous challenges especially if the UAV perception must be done in high speeds and close to the terrain. I will present some insights into the research of fully autonomous aerial teams relying on onboard artificial intelligence. I will discuss the important research question of whether the UAV groups can adapt better to localization failure than a single robot and how cooperative aerial vehicles can achieve high agility in high obstacle density areas. In addition to the fundamental swarming research, I will be talking about real applications of multi-robot systems such as indoor documentation of large historical objects (cathedrals) by formations of cooperating UAVs, a cooperative inspection of underground mines inspired by the DARPA SubT competition, localization and interception of unauthorized drones, aerial firefighting, radiation sources localization, power line inspection, and marine teams of cooperating heterogeneous robots.

Martin Saska received his MSc. degree at Czech Technical University in Prague, 2005, and his Ph.D. degree at University of Wuerzburg, Germany, within the PhD program of Elite Network of Bavaria, 2009. Since 2009, he is a research fellow at Czech Technical University in Prague, where he founded and heads the Multi-robot Systems lab (http://mrs.felk.cvut.cz/) and co-founded Center for Robotics and Autonomous Systems with more than 70 researchers cooperating in robotics (https://robotics.fel.cvut.cz/cras/). He was a visiting scholar at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA in 2008, and at University of Pennsylvania, USA in 2012, 2014 and 2016, where he worked with Vijay Kumar’s group within GRASP lab. He is an author or co-author of >150 publications in peer-reviewed conferences with multiple best paper awards and more >80 publications in impacted journals, including IJRR, AURO, JFR, ASC, EJC, with >6700 citations indexed by Scholar and H-index 45. His team won multiple robotic challenges in MBZIRC 2017, MBZIRC 2020 and DARPA SubT competitions (http://mrs.felk.cvut.cz/projects/mbzirchttp://mrs.felk.cvut.cz/mbzirc2020http://mrs.felk.cvut.cz/projects/darpa).

Jeffrey Alan Tomalka

Jeffrey Alan Tomalka

Emory University (USA)

Dr. Tomalka received his BS in Biology from Wake Forest University in 2006. He then spent a year in the laboratory of Dr. Martha Alexander-Miller in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Wake Forest School of Medicine studying the differential role of long vs. short ovalbumin peptide fragments on enhancing the avidity of antigen-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. In 2007, he joined the Biological Scientist Training Program (BSTP) at Case Western Reserve University where he received his Ph.D. in Pathology in 2013. His doctoral thesis detailed the critical role for inflammasomes and TLRs in promoting protective mucosal immune responses to the fungal pathogen Candida albicans. He was the first to publish a role for the NLRP3 and NLRC4 inflammasome complexes in mediating protection from Candida infection and defined the role of these key proteins in driving neutrophil and macrophage recruitment and activation at the site of infection. He showed that the function of NLRP3 was in cells of hematopoietic origin while the function of NLRC4 was in tissue cells, providing some of the first evidence for the function of inflammasome in non-traditional immune cells. Dr. Tomalka then went on to a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Parameswaran Ramakrishnan where he studied the molecular mechanisms which govern NF-kB activation downstream of TLRs in macrophages and during Type 1 diabetes in CD4+ T cells. Notably, he was the first to demonstrate that O-GlcNAcylation, a post-translational modification in which N-Acetyl-glucosamine is added to Ser/Thr residues on proteins, of NF-kB c-Rel suppresses FOXP3 expression and Treg cell function to promote autoimmune diabetes. The mechanism of action is by reduced DNA binding of O-GlcNAcylated c-Rel to the FOXP3 promoter with simultaneously enhanced binding to Th1 associated promoters (i.e. IL-2, IFN-g, GMCSF) providing a two-hit hypothesis for enhanced autoimmune diabetes: suppressed Treg function and augmented Th1 function.

He joined the Sekaly Lab in 2013 where he has integrated his expertise in cellular and molecular immunology of innate immune signaling with high dimensional Systems Immunology -OMICs approaches to study the critical roles for the STING pathway and inflammasomes/IL-1 in HIV infection and vaccination. Using human cohorts of HIV infection and vaccination combined with in vitro molecular validation (cytokines, CRISPR, models of HIV infection, etc) he has clearly established that activation of the STING pathway promotes effective vaccine responses by enhancing dendritic cell and CD4+ T cells responses. STING also functions in CD4+ T cells to promote antiviral immunity and induce refractoriness to HIV infection; moreover, he has shown that activation of STING can delay HIV latency in vitro and promote differentiation of latently infected CD4+ stem cells in patients. He has also shown that heightened IL-1 and inflammasome pathway activation prior to HIV infection promotes poor disease prognosis (higher viral loads, lower CD4+ T cell counts), that IL-1b can directly enhance infection of CD4+ T cells and that this pathway can be targeted therapeutically during chronic HIV infection to ameliorate systemic immune activation.

He was recruited to Emory in 2020 as an Instructor in the PATRU to establish his independent lab. His research platform termed “Putting the T(cell) in InnaTe ImmuniTy” has four major areas of focus:

  • Innate immune induced STING/CREB1 is a mechanistic driver of protective immune responses during HIV vaccination
  • The STING/NLRX1 axis regulates acute HIV infection and latent HIV reservoir establishment/maintenance in primary CD4+ T cells
  • Heightened IL-1 and inflammasome priming prior to HIV acquisition enhances infection and viral load in people living with HIV (PWHIV) while driving CD4+ T cell death
  • Canakinumab, an IL-1b blocking antibody, reverses systemic inflammation and immune activation in PWHIV
Adriana Tomic

Adriana Tomic

Boston University (USA)

Dr. Tomic is an Assistant Professor of Virology, Immunology & Microbiology, and Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, leading a Systems Immunology group at National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) and co-founder of SIMON, an open-source knowledge discovery platform. Her research focuses on defining the immunological signature of protective immunity, developing novel approaches in human immunology, and accelerating vaccine development through the development of novel systems immunology approaches. Dr. Tomic received her Ph.D. in Infection Biology from Hannover Medical School, Germany, for which she was awarded a Hannover Medical School Award and completed her postdoctoral training at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Dr. Tomic has received multiple prestigious awards, including the Marie Curie Fellowship, and has been leading various projects, such as the NIAID-funded Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Response, The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations grant, and the Medical Research Council HIC-Vac network grant. Dr. Tomic is also actively involved in science communication and outreach. She established an open-source community for the development of machine learning applications to biomedical data, leading an interdisciplinary team of data scientists, biostatisticians, machine learning experts, immunologists, and clinicians.