Amazon and University of Texas at Austin launch Science Hub
The collaboration supports education, community outreach, and the application of academic research to video streaming and robotics.
Amazon and the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) have announced the launch of the UT Austin-Amazon Science Hub, continuing Amazon’s commitment to supporting academic research.
The hub’s goals are to advance research that prompts new discoveries and addresses significant challenges while creating solutions whose benefits are shared broadly across all sectors of society. This will be achieved by fostering collaboration among leading scholars, including faculty and students, along with the development of a diverse and sustainable pipeline of research talent. The initial areas of focus will include video streaming, search and information retrieval, and robotics.
As part of the collaboration, which will be hosted in UT Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering, Amazon will provide funding for research projects, PhD graduate student fellowships, and community-building events designed to diversify and increase cross-disciplinary innovation. The inaugural event, open to all UT Austin research staff and research students, will be held April 12 on the UT Austin campus.
“Amazon is thrilled to establish a university hub at UT Austin,” said BA Winston, vice president of technology at Prime Video. “For years, our top scientists have been a resource to UT Austin graduate students collaborating on topics such as developing objective machine learning models to predict perceptual video quality, which drives smart compression, and multimodal AI models that help ensure the highest-quality media playback experience at scale.”
“We are striving to establish even more collaborations with leading companies and organizations in order to bring together more talented people, produce higher-impact research, and help our students reach their greatest ambitions. The launch of the new hub with Amazon is the latest success story in this effort,” said UT Austin President Jay Hartzell. “I am eager to see the discoveries that our researchers and students will create from this collaboration and how those discoveries will change the world.”
Amazon has extensive ties to UT Austin via the Amazon Scholars program. James Bornholt, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, whose research is focused on programming languages and formal methods, has worked as a Scholar with Amazon Web Services since 2022. Deepayan Chakrabarti, a Scholar in the Customer Trust organization, is also an associate professor of information, risk, and operations management who researches a broad range of challenges, including large-graph mining and problems of limited data. Shuchi Chawla, a professor of computer science, works as a Scholar in Amazon Ads, where she applies her background in problems that involve stochastic input, online decision-making, uncertainty, and learning.
Matthew Lease, a professor in the School of Information and a Scholar with AWS, is also the head of the Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence and Human-Centered Computing, where his research integrates AI with human-computer-interaction techniques. Ayşegül Şahin, the Richard J. Gonzalez Regents Chair in Economics at UT Austin and a Scholar at Amazon, spent 14 years as a research economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where she founded and led the team that focused on the analysis of the US labor market. Sujay Sanghavi, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, is both a principal research scientist and Scholar with Amazon Search. He also serves as the director of the NSF TRIPODS (Transdisciplinary Research in Principles of Data Science) Institute for Data Science.
“This Science Hub will strengthen the partnership between UT Austin and Amazon by leveraging our collective strengths and creating opportunities for our faculty and students and leaders at Amazon to work together to accelerate progress in the areas of computer vision, ML, AI, and robotics,” said Roger Bonnecaze, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering.
“UT Austin has built an impressive program in robotics, with exceptional faculty and students,” said Ken Washington, vice president of Amazon Consumer Robotics. “The new hub will allow us to collaborate even more closely with them in robotics and related disciplines, so I’m very optimistic about our growing partnership.”
The establishment of the UT Austin Science Hub builds upon Amazon’s existing research efforts in Austin. Amazon researchers in Austin are addressing challenges including supply chain optimization, transportation management, and data science.
In addition, several researchers at UT-Austin are recipients of Amazon Research Awards, including Ying Ding, the Bill and Lewis Suit Professor in the School of Information, and Jon Tamir, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.
Founded in 1883, UT Austin is a leading public research institution, attracting more than $650 million annually. More than 52,000 students and 3,000 teaching faculty compose the university’s 18 colleges and schools. UT Austin was ranked first among US universities in research financed by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2020, according to the annual Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey.
“With this hub, I look forward to seeing more cutting-edge research that will not only enhance our customer experience but also help us envision longer-term research goals,” Winston said.