April 12, 2024

UCalgary prof to lead thought-provoking discussion on AI-inspired research and human identity

Join Marina L. Gavrilova April 25 for Lecture of a Lifetime 2024
Dr. Marina L. Gavrilova wearing a blue, red, and yellow PhD robe.

Innovations in the artificial-intelligence (AI) world have been accelerating almost by the day, creating very real challenges to the way we make informed decisions. The big question is: How do we develop ethical and trustworthy AI-powered decision-making systems to solve some of the most pressing problems in our society?

Dr. Marina L. Gavrilova, PhD’99, will answer just that during this year’s Lecture of a Lifetime. Hosted by the University of Calgary’s Chancellor and Senate since 2008, this event is aimed to recognize our community’s accomplishments in teaching, research and collaboration. Lecture of a Lifetime celebrates the speaker’s resilience, wisdom and achievements.

Research innovation  

Gavrilova’s lecture will go back to the origins of her innovative research in biometric system development and information fusion. She will lead a thought-provoking discussion on the ethical considerations brought about by the development of AI-powered transformative technologies. Gavrilova will not only highlight the huge potential of generative AI for new innovations, but also its risks to data privacy, trust and ethical decision-making.

Gavrilova’s roots with UCalgary are strong. Graduating with a PhD in computer science in 1999, she is now a professor in the Department of Computer Science and a co-director of the Biometric Technology Laboratory (BTLab). Her award-winning research examines how biometric data proliferation leads to redefining understanding of human identity. It has been featured on CBC Radio's Discovery Channel

In 2011, she was featured in the National Museum of Civilization linking the discoveries of Newton, Darwin and Einstein to modern-day science. Gavrilova is also the Research Excellence Chair in Trustworthy and Responsible Artificial Intelligence at UCalgary.


Gavrilova is a celebrated mentor to numerous members of the university community in Canada and abroad.

“We as students always felt encouraged to explore new ideas, new venues, take on challenges and excel in our research. She promoted collaboration and critical thinking,” says Dr. Kushan Ahmadian, PhD'12, now a deep-learning engineer at Nvidia, who recalls Gavrilova creating a supportive environment.

“Beyond her scholarly excellence, her role as a mentor and as a friend have been equally impactful. She has not only guided me in the academic pursuits, but also provided support and camaraderie. She’s my go-to person to consult.”

A.S.M Hossain Bari, MSc'20, an alum of the BTLab, continues to collaborate with Gavrilova outside of his work as a computer vision research scientist at Motion Gestures.

“I’ll always feel connected to the Biometrics Technologies lab of Professor Marina. I had one of my greatest life experiences being a part of the BTLab under Professor Marina’s supervision,” he says.

When I first came to Canada in 2018 as a graduate student, she supported me remarkably. I’m truly grateful to her.”

Register for Lecture of a Lifetime

The 2024 Lecture of a Lifetime will be held April 25 in MacEwan Hall at 5:30 p.m. Registration is free and is open to all. Learn more and register.

Lecture of a Lifetime is a dynamic demonstration of academic talent and achievement, and a unique opportunity to learn how research and learning at the University of Calgary contributes to the vibrancy of our city and addresses society’s greatest challenges.

This event has been presented by the UCalgary Chancellor and Senate since 2008. Past presenters at the Lecture of a Lifetime include: Dr. John Ferris, PhD, Faculty of Arts (2021); Dr. Samuel Weiss, PhD’83, Cumming School of Medicine (2022); and Dr. Jay Cross, DVM, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Cumming School of Medicine (2023).

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