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2018 - today


Pioneering research with revolutionary potential for sustainable computing

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How CogniGron works

CogniGron works at the global forefront of technological innovation, crafting materials and ideas with the potential to sustain the future of our data-driven society. It is one of the most ambitious projects the UEF has ever funded.

CogniGron is led by a group of world-class experts in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, Nanotechnology, Physics and Mathematics.

The research program hosts a globally diverse community of over 20 full professors and more than 100 researchers and students. Even if their ambitions are manifold, the aspirational vision of building an extremely power efficient supercomputer lies at the heart of what CogniGron sets out to achieve.

Rethinking technology

The rising data demands of the digital society we live in are becoming unsustainable. While our use of the cloud for streaming, smart devices and sharing platforms has surged, the computer chips that process these huge volumes of data have mostly remained the same.

New generations of laptops and smartphones are constantly being released, but their improvements in data processing capacity are modest at best. Supercomputers are evolving at a similar pace: ongoing innovation has yet to exceed refinements and gains that are only incremental.

A sustainable way forward requires new standard-setting inventions that can eclipse the highest levels of power efficiency currently available. By fundamentally rethinking the building blocks of the technology we know, CogniGron is determined to make that breakthrough a reality.

The human brain as the way forward

CogniGron specializes in neuromorphic engineering, a rapidly evolving field that develops materials resembling the human brain. Powerful supercomputers may seem impressive, but our brain is vastly superior in all aspects of data processing and memory storage, and much more energy efficient.

CogniGron’s researchers use the biological principles of the human brain to create cognitive materials: tiny parts with a mind of their own. A chip based on this approach would represent a leap forward that could skip hundreds, if not thousands, of generations of future computers based on existing technology.

Scaled Impact

The potential applications are boundless: CogniGron’s insights can help develop new technology for deep learning, self-driving cars, robotics or systems with the ability to predict natural disasters.

The experimental research done by CogniGron depends on state-of-the-art equipment and a substantial number of talented minds with the drive to revolutionize science. An anonymous donor provided the financial foundation for this project. For information on what you can do, please contact the UEF.

Academic Leadership

Director and Coordinator

CogniGron is led by the Scientific Director with support of the Coordinating Office for day-to-day operations.

prof. dr. Beatriz Noheda (Madrid, 1968)

Scientific Director CogniGron and Full Professor of Functional Nanomaterials

Beatriz Noheda is a full professor in Functional Nanomaterials. As CogniGron's director, she oversees the program's extensive research agenda and manages national and international partnerships.

Prior to joining the University of Groningen in 2004, she worked as a researcher at the Brookhaven National Lab in New York, the Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford University and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She received a PhD in Physics from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.

dr. Jasper van der Velde (Netherlands, 1988)

Scientific Coordinator CogniGron

Jasper van der Velde is responsible for the development and implementation of CogniGron’s academic and programmatic strategy, as well as industrial partnerships, the recruitment of research staff.

He obtained a PhD in Physics and Chemistry from the University of Groningen in 2016, and was a visiting scholar at the University of California Irvine.

Program Board

The Scientific Director also chairs the Program Board, which oversees CogniGron’s research agenda, allocation of resources and the recruitment of new staff.

Financial planning decisions and the longer-term strategy are reviewed by the Supervisory Board. In addition, CogniGron has an international Scientific Advisory Panel to consult the project’s leadership on new strategic priorities for research.

prof. dr. Maria Antonietta Loi (Italy, 1973)

Full professor of Photophysics and Optoelectronics

Maria Loi is a prolific contributor to scientific journals in her area of expertise, which concentrates on the development of new materials that use light as an energy source.

Before coming to Groningen, she worked as a researcher at the Linz Institute for Organic Solar Cells in Austria and the Italian National Research Council in Bologna, Italy. She holds a PhD in Physics from the University of Cagliari.

prof. dr. Georgi Gaydadjiev (Bulgaria, 1964)

Full professor of Computer Architecture Innovation

In addition to his position in Groningen, Georgi Gaydadjiev is an honorary visiting professor in Computing at Imperial College London and a visiting professor in Computing at TU Delft.

He worked in Research & Development for software and hardware design for 30 years and also taught at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg. He obtained a PhD in Computer Engineering from TU Delft.

prof. dr. Tamalika Banerjee (India, 1970)

Full professor of Spintronics of Functional Materials

Prior to joining the University of Groningen, Tamalika Banerjee was a visiting researcher at the Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She also worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research in Mumbai. Professor Banerjee holds a PhD in Physics from the University of Madras (Chennai) in India.

prof. dr. Lambert Schomaker (Netherlands, 1957)

Full professor of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Engineering

Lambert Schomaker has led extensive international research projects on handwriting recognition and forensic writer identification, and has served as a supervisory board member on major initiatives at TU Eindhoven and the Radboud University Nijmegen.

His work was a precursor to handwriting and gesture-recognition software for tablets like the iPad. He obtained a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the Radboud University in Nijmegen.

prof. dr. Caspar Van der Wal (Netherlands, 1971)

Full professor of Physics of Quantum Devices

Caspar van der Wal heads the UG’s Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials, which focuses on the study of nanomaterials and is an important partner to the research done by CogniGron.

After obtaining a PhD on quantum coherent dynamics of superconducting circuits from TU Delft, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University. A lecturer and researcher at the UG for nearly 20 years, his work has been awarded with numerous awards and grants.

dr. Alef Sterk (Netherlands, 1982)

Researcher of Interdisciplinary Mathematics

Alef Sterk is specialized in dynamical systems - a branch of mathematics that strongly interacts with geometry and probability theory. His work seeks to understand the long-term behavior of systems under unpredictable changes in the variables that affect their functioning.

He currently serves on the board of the Dutch Royal Mathematical Society and previously spent two years as an Associate Research Fellow at the University of Exeter in the UK. Doctor Sterk holds a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Groningen.

prof. dr. Niels Taatgen (Netherlands, 1964)

Full professor of Artificial Intelligence

An important focus area in Niels Taatgen’s research is multitasking: the use of computer simulations to help determine how future computer chips could mimic the ability of humans to do multiple things simultaneously.

In addition to his supervisory role for CogniGron, professor Taatgen is also the research director for the UG's Bernoulli Institute for Mathematics, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence.

He previously worked as a researcher at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and obtained a PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Groningen.

An overview of CogniGron's different areas of expertise.

Scientific Advisory Panel

Giacomo Indiveri, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Julie Grollier, CNSR Thales, France

Heike Riel, IBM Zurich, Switzerland

Ivan Schuller, University of California, San Diego, USA

Rainer Waser, RWTH Aachen University & Peter Grünberg Institute, Julich, Germany

Yoeri van de Burgt, TU Eindhoven

Wilfred van der Wiel, TU Twente

Chris Eliasmith, University of Waterloo, Canada

Susan Stepney, University of York, UK

Supervisory Board

Hans Biemans, member of the Board of Directors, UG

Joost Frenken, dean Faculty Science and Engineering

Esther-Marije Klop, managing director Faculty Science and Engineering

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