Top AI researcher leaves Morgan Stanley for academia

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Artificial intelligence (AI) experts are hard to hire and even harder to retain.

Sasha Luccioni, an AI researcher on Morgan Stanley's machine learning team in Montreal, left the U.S. bank to become a postdoctoral researcher at The Mila-Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute earlier this month.

Based in Canada, Luccioni only worked with Morgan Stanley as a natural language processing (NLP) specialist for a year. As a part of the bank's machine learning (ML) team, she used ML and NLP for risk, compliance, security, management and research. Her exit reflects the allure of academia for high level researchers in the machine learning space.

A graduate in Linguistics from Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Luccioni completed a masters in cognitive science from École Normale Supérieure and PhD in AI from Université du Québec à Montréal. At Mila Institute, she is working on AI for humanity initiatives, according to her LinkedIn. It's possible that she's looking to leverage AI in education, the topic on which her PhD thesis was based.

Prior to Morgan Stanley, Luccioni was a natural language research scientist at Nuance Communications. While doing masters, she worked as a graduate researcher in France and Argentina, after which she took up a role as a research assistant at Université TÉLUQ in 2012 for five years.  With the new role, Luccioni’s career seems to have come to full circle.

Morgan Stanley has been ramping up its AI and ML team for some time now. The firm hired Georg Huettenegger, an expert in conversational AI, to lead its chatbot team in New York City earlier this month. A year ago, it brought on board Santhosh Pasupuleti, an AI and cloud engineering expert with the background in fashion.

Morgan Stanley isn’t the only one racing to get the top talent in AI. Last month, JPMorgan hired Tucker Balch, a renowned AI and machine learning specialist, to help build its New York AI team. In 2018, it poached Apoorv Saxena, one of Google’s best AI minds, and Manuela Veloso, head of the machine learning department at Carnegie Mellon, to lead its AI research initiatives.

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