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Founders' Circle Dinner
Founders' Circle Dinner

Founders' Circle Recognition Dinner

Celebrating Tower Club: Founders' Circle and Ezra Cornell Circle donors, 

and welcoming new members of the Cornell University Board of Trustees. 

*This event is by invitation only.

The Pierre

2 East 61st Street at 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10065


Wednesday, September 13, 2023


6:30 p.m. Cocktail reception


 7:15 p.m. Seated dinner and program



Leveraging Artificial Intelligence for Positive Societal Impact

Insights from leaders of the Cornell AI Initiative

Dress code: Business attire.

If you have questions, please contact the Office of Donor Relations | 607-255-2779

Meet the leaders of the Cornell AI Initiative!

Kavita Bala

Dean Kavita Bala (moderator) is a computer scientist, entrepreneur, professor, and the inaugural Dean of the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science. She is the recipient of a number of awards and acclaim for teaching and for her research in visual computing and Artificial Intelligence. Her research has been adopted by industry in Autodesk's core rendering engine, and she co-founded GrokStyle, a visual recognition AI company, which began as a visual search and shopping tool integrated with IKEA's Augmented Reality application and was subsequently acquired by Facebook in 2019. She has served on several advisory boards and program committees in computer vision and graphics and is the lead Dean for the university-wide Cornell AI Initiative.

Deborah Estrin

Deborah Estrin is a Professor of Computer Science at Cornell Tech in New York City where she holds The Robert V. Tishman Founder's Chair, serves as the Associate Dean for Impact, and is an Affiliate Faculty at Weill Cornell Medicine. Estrin's research activities include technologies for caregiving, immersive health, small data, participatory sensing, and Public Interest Technology. Before joining Cornell University Estrin was the Founding Director of the NSF Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS) at UCLA; pioneering the development of mobile and wireless systems to collect and analyze real time data about the physical world. Estrin co-founded the non-profit startup, Open mHealth, and has served on several scientific advisory boards for early stage mobile health startups and as an Amazon Scholar.

Estrin's honors include: ACM Athena Lecture (2006), Anita Borg Institute's Women of Vision Award for Innovation (2007), the IEEE Internet Award (2017), MacArthur Fellowship (2018), and the IEEE John von Neumann Medal (2022). She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2007), the National Academy of Engineering (2009), and the National Academy of Medicine (2019). She was awarded honorary doctorates from EPFL (2008) and Uppsala (2011). Current funders include National Science Foundation (Award #1700832 and #2026577), New York Presbyterian, Optum Labs, Cornell University, Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE V), MacArthur Foundation, Siegel Family Endowment, Atlantic Philanthropies.

Current collaborators include Ashley Beecy, Michael Byrne, Tanzeem Choudhury, Abe Davis, Nicki Dell, Harald Haraldsson, Wendy Ju, JP Pollak, Malgorzata Rejniak, Lyel Resner, Madeline Sterling.

Jesse Goldberg

Jesse Goldberg is an Associate Professor and the Robert R. Capranica Fellow in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University, and a member of the Psychology and Biomedical Engineering Fields. Jesse received his B.S. in Biology from Haverford College and his MD/PhD degrees from Columbia University. His PhD with Rafa Yuste focused on dendritic computation and microcircuits of the cerebral cortex. In medical school, he became interested in disorders such as Parkinson's and dystonia that impair basal ganglia dependent motor control and learning. His postdoctoral work at MIT with Michale Fee focused on how the basal ganglia implement learning in juvenile songbirds. Dr. Goldberg has expertise in systems neuroscience. His lab combines recordings from populations of single neurons with machine learning guided behavioral analysis to study how mice, zebra finches, and parakeets learn to move and impress mates. His lab discovered dopaminergic reinforcement signals that direct song learning in birds, as well as how these signals interact with brain architectures that inspire deep reinforcement learning in AI applications. In mice his lab established the first-ever tongue tracking system and discovered that the tongue exhibits hallmarks of online motor control previously studied in primate reaching. His lab is now pioneering the parakeets as a model system in neuroscience and has discovered aspects of gestural-vocal-pupillary coordination that are jointly controlled by a dedicated brain pathway. Though working in diverse species, all of these research programs combine similar methodologies and are anchored in common questions of behavioral control and learning. Jesse also collaborates extensively, and has been co-PI on NIH grants, with engineers, Physicists and Physicians at Cornell and Cornell Med (Al Molnar, Paul McEuen, Itai Cohen, Mert Sabuncu, Niko Schiff, Paola Calderon) to develop new recording and animal behavioral analysis methods. Jesse has authored 40 papers, 31 of them as first or last author. Jesse has been supported by the Damon Runyon Foundation, Charles King Trust, Pew, Klingenstein, and Kavli foundations, as well as the NIH New Innovator and Cornell Neurotech programs.

Thorsten Joachims

Thorsten Joachims is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and in the Department of Information Science at Cornell University, and he is an Amazon Scholar. He is currently the Associate Dean for Research for Cornell Bowers CIS, and he is the Director of the Cornell Radical Collaboration on Artificial Intelligence. His research interests center on a synthesis of theory and system building in artificial intelligence and machine learning, with applications in information access, language technology, and recommendation. Working with his students and collaborators, his papers won 10 Best Paper Awards and 4 Test-of-Time Awards. He is an ACM Fellow, a AAAI Fellow, recipient of the KDD Innovations Award, and a member of the ACM SIGIR Academy.

Hadas Kress-Gazit

Hadas Kress-Gazit is the Geoffrey S.M. Hedrick Sr. Professor at the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University. She received her Ph.D. in Electrical and Systems Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008 and has been at Cornell since 2009. Her research focuses on formal methods for robotics and automation and more specifically on synthesis for robotics – automatically creating verifiable robot controllers for complex high-level tasks. Her group explores different types of robotic systems including modular robots, soft robots, and swarms, and synthesizes ideas from different communities such as robotics, formal methods, control, and hybrid systems. She is an IEEE fellow and has received multiple awards for her research, teaching, and advocacy for groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM.