One of the most pressing issues facing AI today is ensuring AI is developed in a socially ethical way for maximizing public good – and that the generation of new AI researchers we mentor are trained in this as well. As a community, it is our responsibility to ensure that we are an integrated part of the conversation that includes all diverse stakeholders – whether it is corporations, policy makers, or just the general public. As such I’m excited to be joining the PAI Board in shaping the advancements in AI to improve its impact positively on society in an equal and equitable fashion.

Dr. Ayanna Howard is the newly appointed Dean for the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University. Previously, she was the Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Professor in Bioengineering and Chair of the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She also held a faculty appointment in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and currently serves on the Board of Directors for both PAI and Autodesk.

Prior to Georgia Tech, Dr. Howard was at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she held the title of Senior Robotics Researcher and Deputy Manager in the Office of the Chief Scientist. Her research encompasses advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), assistive technologies, and robotics, and has resulted in over 250 peer-reviewed publications. At NASA, she worked on designing advanced technologies for future Mars rover missions. Now, she works on projects ranging from healthcare robots to developing methods to mitigate bias and trust in AI.  In 2013, she founded Zyrobotics, an education technology startup, which designs AI-powered STEM tools and learning games for early childhood education. She has also served as the Associate Director of Research for the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, Chair of the Robotics Ph.D. program, and the Associate Chair for Faculty Development in ECE at Georgia Tech.

Dr. Howard is an IEEE and AAAI Fellow and recipient of the Anita Borg Institute Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award, CRA A. Nico Habermann Award, Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award, NSBE Janice Lumpkin Educator of the Year Award, and the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Career Award. To date, Dr. Howard’s unique accomplishments have been highlighted through a number of other public recognitions, including highlights in Vanity Fair, USA Today, Upscale, Black Enterprise, and TIME Magazine, as well as being recognized as one of the 23 most powerful women engineers in the world by Business Insider and one of the Top 50 U.S. Women in Tech by Forbes.  She regularly advises on issues concerning robotics, AI, and workforce development, including functioning as an appointed member of the Georgia State Workforce Development Board and an AI advisor on the YouTube Future of AI documentary series produced by Robert Downey Jr.  

Dr. Howard is a frequent speaker and expert source for venues such as CNN and NPR. She regularly gives invited seminars at venues such as the Smithsonian Design Museum, Science Museum of London, Detroit Science Museum, and the National Security Agency.  Her research leadership has also been externally recognized through her role as a U.S. Embassy Speaker Specialist and her Congressional Testimony on Innovation, just to name a few.