From early on in her career, Distinguished Professor Jie Lu has been committed not just to advancing her own research, but to driving a thriving research culture with the potential for widespread transformation.
As one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), her particular focus is on fuzzy machine learning — which allows computers to learn in data insufficient and uncertain environments; in human terms, seeing the ‘grey areas’ rather than just the ‘black and white’ — and decision support systems to help organisations make the right decision at the right time in data-heavy environments. As Director of the UTS Centre for Artificial Intelligence, Australia’s largest AI research body, she leads 30 staff, ten postdoctoral researchers and 130 PhD students in the development of knowledge, software and hardware to advance the future of machine learning, robotics, optimisation, data science, and brain-computer interface.
Her impressive record of theoretical and applied research has won Jie deep respect in her field, and her expertise is increasingly sought-after. She was made a member of the ARC College of Experts and an elected IEEE Fellow, and is Editor-in-Chief for prestigious international journals.
Jie is Associate Dean (Research Excellence) in the Faculty of Engineering and IT — a position created by UTS to harness her prodigious talent for research leadership — and is leading the next phase in UTS’s drive to become a world-leading institute of technology, developing a comprehensive research excellence framework.
Jie is leading the next phase in UTS’s drive to become a world-leading institute of technology, developing a comprehensive research excellence framework.
“Early in its history UTS focused on teaching, and then on teaching and research,” she explains. “In the last ten years, there has been a real focus on research development, but now is the time to consider not only research productivity but research researcher excellence including research quality and impact, and how best to foster a strong, collaborative research culture.”
Joining UTS almost two decades ago as a lecturer, Jie attained full professorship within just seven years and is now a Distinguished Professor. She says that she has found endless support at UTS to grow her career in the direction of her choosing, whether through promotions and the creation of specific new roles or investing in developing her leadership skills. Offering a helping hand to others on their way up is, for her, a crucial part of building the momentum for change toward greater equity.
“There aren’t many female leaders in engineering and IT area,” she says. “Throughout my time at UTS I have mentored and supported a large number of early- and mid-career female staff and PhD students, to help other women win positions and promotions, become principal supervisors to PhD students and really extend their careers.”
Photography: Andy Roberts