Helping children through AI

AI grant research team.

A $20 million National Science Foundation grant will establish a national institute at the University at Buffalo to develop AI systems to help the millions of children with speech and language disorders.

The five-year, $20 million is led by Venu Govindaraju, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and vice president for research and economic development at UB.

The project will address the nationwide shortage of speech-language pathologists, as well as develop artificial intelligence systems that identify and assist young children with speech and/or language processing challenges.

New AI Institute for Exceptional Education

The grant will be used to create the AI Institute for Exceptional Education, and will also advance foundational AI technologies, human-centered AI design, and learning science that improve educational outcomes for young children. It is one of the largest federal research grants received by UB, New York’s flagship university.

Institute comprised of top research universities

The institute will consist of more than 30 researchers from nine universities including UB; the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Stanford University; the University of Washington; Cornell University; the University of Nevada, Reno; the University of Texas at El Paso; Penn State University; and the University of Oregon.

These scholars specialize in artificial intelligence, natural language processing, social robotics, communicative disorders, diversity and inclusivity, learning science, communication and other fields.

Govindaraju and UB researchers Jinjun Xiong and Srirangaraj Setlur will coordinate the team’s work.

Xiong, an Empire Innovation Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is a co-principal investigator, and will serve as the institute’s scientific director and co-director. Setlur, a principal research scientist in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, will serve as the institute’s managing director.

Letitia Thomas, assistant dean for diversity in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, will lead the broadening participation, and diversity, equity and inclusion sections of the grant.

Venu Govindaraju.
Lead Researcher:

Venu GovindarajuSUNY Distinguished Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering; and vice president, Office of Research and Economic Development