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Bond University appoints leading neuroscientist to research the 'artificial mind'

Bond University has appointed leading French Neuroscientist, Professor Irini Giannopulu as Head of the School of Psychology, with a view to her establishing a dedicated centre for the 'artificial mind' at Bond’s Gold Coast campus.

Professor Giannopulu was formerly Professor at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris. She has a neuropsychology practice in Paris and is regarded as a leader in cognitive neuropsychology, in particular the interaction between the human brain and mind – and technology, including robots.

A lot of Professor Giannopulu’s research has been on the use of robots as companions and assistants with children, with and without neurological disorders like autism. She has also conducted research into language acquisition in children and the early detection of learning difficulties and real and virtual spatial navigation in the context of healthy children and adults.  

Professor Giannopulu said young children today were immersed in artificial environments.

“Gaming, robots, virtual mixed and augmented reality all have a big impact on the brain functioning and cognition of children,” she said.

“I am very interested in how robots and virtual or augmented reality impact our minds, as well as how we can use these technologies and harness their vast potential to improve our quality of life at all ages, from young children through to the elderly.

“Now is the time to deal with automation.

“There is just so much we can learn from the technologies and so many ways to use them for the good of society and humanity.”

In addition to her teaching in France, Professor Giannopulu has taught at Jiao Tong University (Shanghai) and Keio University (Tokyo).

She has also collaborated on research with a number of European Universities - including the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), the Karolinska Institute (Sweden) and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland) - and Japan’s Gifu University, Okayama Prefectural University and the Shibaura Institute of Technology.

Her goal is to bring her wealth of knowledge and global contacts to Bond and join forces with the University’s own experts in psychology, technology, innovation, medicine and health sciences, to develop a new centre for the 'artificial mind'.

“What appealed to me about Bond was that it was a young, modern university with incredible potential,” Professor Giannopulu said.

“Its architecture is brilliant and its Australian-Japanese heritage also interests me. To me Australia -and Bond in particular - is a whole new world of innovation, ideas, challenges and opportunities, plus it is a gateway to the Asia-Pacific, so where better for me to develop and share my research?

“On a personal level, I love the ocean, seafood and wine, so the beautiful Gold Coast with its wonderful quality of life was very attractive too.

“I think the establishment of a new research centre on the Gold Coast will be very positive for the area, in particular the scientific community.

“We plan to bring experts from the world of neuroscience and technology to Bond to collaborate through research, workshops and conferences in the coming years. Together, so many things are possible.”

Executive Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Bond University’s Faculty of Society and Design, Professor Raoul Mortley said Professor’s Giannopulu’s appointment was a huge coup for Bond students and staff, and the greater Gold Coast region.

“Irini’s appointment will further bolster Bond’s research capacity in psychology, and in addition she brings with her an interdisciplinary perspective to the University’s technology and innovation agenda,” Professor Mortley said.

“Our students will benefit from her global experience and network of contacts, as well as her strong interest in technology-based teaching innovation.

“She is an incredibly valuable addition to the University and we are delighted to welcome her to the Bond community.”

Professor Giannopulu began her teaching career at René Descartes University (Paris V) as Assistant Professor of Developmental Psychology. Prior to her role as Professor at the Pierre et Marie Curie University, she held positions as Associate Professor and Professor at the SPP-Catholic Institute of Paris. 

She has also held positions in the French national research Institutes, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale. 

She is a public and academic expert for the Swiss National Science Foundation and for the European Commission Human Brain project, and she holds several European research grants as principal researcher.

Professor Giannopulu’s professional qualifications include BA (Paris V), MA (UPMC), M.Sc (Lyon 1), Ph.D (UPMC) and Dr.Sc Habilitation (summa cum laude-UPMC).

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