Computer Science Alumni and Friends

The Faculty of Science Department of Computer Science invites you to a (virtual) public lecture series by alumni and friends of the Department of Computer Science.

Playlist of past lectures on YouTube

David Wm Plummer (’94 BSc High Honours)

“The Secret History of Task Manager”

If you ask Google “who created Microsoft Windows Task Manager”, David Plummer is the reply. David is an entrepreneur, programmer, and U of R alumnus. After graduation, he went on to work with Microsoft and create systems that we use to this day. David was born and raised in Regina and now lives in the Seattle area with his family.

Event on facebook.

To read more about David Plummer, please see:

Lecture 1 (9 Dec 2020)

Larry Matthies (’79 BSc Honours)

“Robotic Mars Exploration”

Larry Matthies' job with the Jet Propulsion Lab, California Institute of Technology allows him to personally participate in putting robots on other planets, like Perseverance on Mars.

Event on facebook.

The Perseverance Mars rover landed in Jezero Crater, where we can see from orbit that a river flowed into the crater, which held a lake, and a delta formed at the mouth of the river. The mission of Perseverance is to explore around the delta to improve our understanding of the ancient climate and to examine the possibility that life or precursor molecules evolved there. The rover will also acquire a set of samples and leave them for a mission that the U.S. and Europe plan to send later this decade to bring the samples back to Earth. This sequence of missions is called the Mars Sample Return campaign. Perseverance also carries a small helicopter called Ingenuity, which is intended as a technology demonstration of the first heavier-than-air aircraft ever to attempt flight on another planet. This lecture will give a brief introduction to Mars exploration and these missions.

Dr. Larry Matthies has 39 years of experience in computer vision R&D for autonomous navigation of robotic ground and air vehicles on Earth and in space. He has been with the Jet Propulsion Lab, California Institute of Technology since 1989, now as a Senior Research Scientist. He has pioneered development of many computer vision-related capabilities that had and will have high impact on robotic solar system exploration. Of all his experiences at NASA, he says that the most extraordinary was being at the 1997 landing of the first Mars rover (Sojourner). He was awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2007. For further information, please visit

Lecture 2 (24 Mar 2021)

Natasha Jaques ('12 BSc Honours and '12 BA)

“Social Reinforcement Learning”

Social learning helps humans and animals rapidly adapt to new circumstances, and drives the emergence of complex learned behaviours. In this talk I will explore whether we can use insights from social learning to improve artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. I will introduce Social Reinforcement Learning, which focuses on leveraging social learning to enhance AI learning and generalization, coordination with other AI agents, and human-AI interaction. For example, I propose new algorithms for enabling AI agents to learn from experts that are present in their environment, or learn how to have better conversations with humans by learning from their social cues. I also show how competition between agents can lead them to learn more complex behaviours, and generalize better to new tasks at test time. Overall, I argue that Social Reinforcement Learning is a valuable approach for developing more general, sophisticated, and human-compatible AI.

Event on facebook.

Natasha Jaques holds a joint position as a Research Scientist at Google Brain and post-doc at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on social reinforcement learning -- developing multi-agent RL algorithms t that can improve single-agent learning, generalization, coordination, and human-AI collaboration. Natasha received her PhD from MIT, where she focused on Affective Computing and new techniques for deep/reinforcement/machine learning. Natasha earned her Masters degree from the University of British Columbia, and undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Psychology from the University of Regina.

Lecture 3 (16 Jun 2021)

Ross Mitchell ('86 BSc High Honours and '89 MSc)

“AI for Precision Healthcare”

In this talk I will give a high-level overview of AI in healthcare, followed by a discussion of key trends that I think will impact developments in the area over the next several years. This will include examples from a “laundry list” of tools I would love to develop for clinicians. Finally I will discuss some of the challenges and solutions to AI implementation in healthcare, with examples from my work over the last decade in the USA.

Event on facebook.

Dr. Mitchell is currently the Alberta Health Services (AHS) Chair in AI in Health, a professor in the Department of Medicine, and an adjunct professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Alberta. He is also a Fellow with the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute ( ) and the Senior Program Director of Artificial Intelligence Adoption with AHS. After his BSc and MSc degrees from Regina, he received his PhD at the University of Western Ontario and has been working in the fields of biomedical imaging, artificial intelligence, and machine learning for 30 years. Dr. Mitchell was the inaugural Artificial Intelligence Officer at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida from 2019 to 2021. There, he led efforts to develop AI tools to improve the efficiency and quality of cancer care, including models to predict patient outcomes from electronic health record data, and natural language processing to infer diagnostic codes from free-text pathology reports. He was a Professor of Radiology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona from 2011 to 2019 and Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Radiology, and Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Calgary from 2000 to 2011. He was recognized with an Alumni Crowning Achievement Award from the University of Regina in 2011.

Lecture 4 (16 Mar 2022)