Research for trustworthy AI

Department receives two new LOEWE professorships

2023/02/21 by HMWK/Michaela Hütig

The Technical University of Darmstadt and hessian.AI continue to expand its leading international position in artificial intelligence (AI) research: hessian.AI and TU Darmstadt receive two new LOEWE professorships for multimodal learning. One LOEWE Top Professorship is awarded to Dr Marcus Rohrbach, who is at the same time taking up his Humboldt Professorship at TU Darmstadt, and one LOEWE Start Professorship to Dr Anna Rohrbach. Both LOEWE professorships are funded with funds from the LOEWE research programme of the State of Hesse totalling five million euros.

The new LOEWE professorships will be established at hessian.AI and expand its AI research expertise. The appointment of the AI researchers effective 1 September is a great success for the TU Darmstadt and hessian.AI. With their professorships in “Multimodal Grounded Learning” and “Multimodal Reliable Artificial Intelligence”, Marcus and Anna Rohrbach are strengthening a research field in which the Hessian Center at TU already plays a leading international role.

The two researchers will pioneer the research goal of developing intelligent systems in harmony with the European value system at the hessian.AI and the Department of Computer Science – both at university level and across the country and Europe.

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Research at the interface of image recognition and language

Marcus Rohrbach is moving from AI research at Facebook parent company Meta in California to Darmstadt and will be conducting basic research in the field of multimodal learning at the interface of image recognition and language as part of his LOEWE Excellence Professorship. He will advance AI models that learn from uni- and multi-modal data and have a wide range of functions. The aim is to develop a dependably acting and thus trustworthy AI that can communicate with humans and support them in all tasks and scenarios. Marcus Rohrbach had already been awarded a Humboldt Professorship at TU Darmstadt by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for his research in November last year. He now accepted this appointment.

TU President Professor Tanja Brühl remarked that with Marcus Rohrbach, the TU Darmstadt would welcome a pioneering colleague to a Multimodal Reliable Artificial Intelligence professorship. “As an internationally recognized top researcher, he has a remarkable profile at the interfaces of various sub-fields of AI”, she emphasized. “He will be an outstanding addition to the AI expertise at TU Darmstadt and in hessian.AI and will significantly promote cooperation in a wide range of networks. After being awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship, Marcus Rohrbach now receives a LOEWE Excellence Professorship – an outstanding success!”

Develop AI models with human-like abilities

Anna Rohrbach moves from the University of California (UC) Berkeley to Darmstadt and will provide innovative contributions at the interface of image recognition (computer vision) and natural language processing (NLP) as part of her LOEWE Start Professorship. She will develop and research AI models that are supposed to possess abilities similar to those of humans. This multimodal AI should be able to communicate with humans, be anchored in reality and learn from language.

TU President Brühl explained: “With Anna Rohrbach, we are gaining an internationally visible and up-and-coming researcher for a professorship in Multimodal Grounded Learning at TU Darmstadt and in hessian.AI. With her innovative contributions at the interface of image recognition and Natural Language Processing, Anna Rohrbach’s work perfectly complements our Information and Intelligence research field in the area of Third Wave AI research. I am very much looking forward to working with an inspiring colleague!”

“Two outstanding researchers for the department”

Marcus Rohrbach’s LOEWE Top Professorship runs for five years and is endowed with a total of around 4.5 million euros. The share of LOEWE funding is three million euros, with the TU Darmstadt bearing the remaining part. Anna Rohrbach’s professorship is worth a total of around 4.1 million euros for the six-year period. LOEWE funding comprises two million euros, with the TU Darmstadt contributing the remaining share.

The Dean of the Department of Computer Science at TU Darmstadt, Felix Wolf, said: “We are delighted to attract two outstanding researchers to the department in Anna and Marcus Rohrbach. Close collaboration on existing and new projects gives our strong AI research focus further tailwind to realise our vision of reliable AI. Our students will also benefit from more hands-on AI courses.”

Marcus Rohrbach

After completing his doctorate at the Max Planck Institute for Computer Science in Saarbrücken, Marcus Rohrbach first conducted research at UC Berkeley and from 2017 at Facebook AI Research (FAIR). His research results are published in several AI fields at major conferences and by the most important journals for computer vision, computational linguistics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. He also won various scientific competitions.

Anna Rohrbach

Anna Rohrbach received her PhD from Saarland University in 2017 and then moved to UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision and natural language processing multimodal learning. She won various scientific prizes and awards and published her research results in renowned journals and at major conferences.

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