Appointment new professors underscores the value of AI for WUR

Published on
April 21, 2021

Anna Fensel and Ioannis Athanasiadis have been appointed as associate professor and professor (respectively) of Artificial Intelligence and Data Sciences. By appointing these two scientists, Wageningen University & Research underscores the importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The appointment of both Fensel and Athanasiadis came into effect in April. WUR is to appoint a total of three AI professors.

Developing AI ranks high on the Wageningen University & Research agenda, which is why developing AI and data sciences features in the “Finding Answers Together” strategic plan. WUR aims to make data available and use it towards advanced methods of data science and artificial intelligence in research and education. Thus, WUR contributes to finding solutions for the challenges in the domains of nutrition, health, environment and society.

Extensive international experience

Anna Fensel
Anna Fensel

Anna Fensel studied Computer Sciences and Mathematics and has already worked in Russia, Ireland, England and Austria. ‘I am currently working on semantic technology, linked data and knowledge graphs. AI and Data Science are largely applied fields, and developing and applying AI and Data Science in the Food Valley for a sustainable future is a dream job. WUR makes it possible. The biggest challenge for WUR in the field of AI and Data Science is to convert data and information into knowledge.’ There will be extra focus on the development and use of FAIR data.

Ioannis Athanasiadis
Ioannis Athanasiadis

Ioannis Athanasiadis studied Electrical and Computer Engineering at Aristoteles University in Thessaloniki and worked in Switzerland. ‘Unlocking the potential of data-driven innovations in the agro-environmental domain is the greatest challenge we face. To this end, we must develop new technologies and new ways to collaborate: a new Wageningen approach with an integrated AI perspective. Thus, we will ultimately interlink computational infrastructure, machine learning and domain expertise to make data-intensive scientific discoveries possible in our domain.’ Athanasiadis is well known within WUR and has previously worked within the Social Sciences Group and the Environmental Sciences Groups in Wageningen.

Autonomous role

Wageningen allows these scientists to operate independently within the existing chair groups to fortify our expertise in this domain. Fensel and Athanasiadis are to develop their own research agenda in collaboration with different groups and external partners. Fensel will start within the Consumption and Healthy Lifestyles group, Athanasiadis within the Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing group. Both are supported through the Wageningen Data Competence Centre (WDCC).

Willem Jan Knibbe, programme leader of Artificial Intelligence at WUR, is delighted by the appointments. ‘It is clear that Data Sciences and AI offer fantastic opportunities in combination with our specific domain expertise. Since 2017 we have been fortifying our knowledge infrastructure through the WDCC. The addition of three professors, of which two have now started, will certainly provide a boost. We will now be even better able to develop new technology within our domain.’