Senior Staff Scientist (AI Lab)

Date Posted: 05/24/2024
Req ID: 37419
Faculty/Division: Faculty of Arts & Science
Department: Acceleration Consortium
Campus: St. George (Downtown Toronto)



The Acceleration Consortium (AC) at the University of Toronto (U of T) is leading a transformative shift in scientific discovery that will accelerate technology development and commercialization. The AC is a global community of academia, industry, and government that leverages the power of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, materials sciences, and high-throughput chemistry to create self-driving laboratories (SDLs), also called materials acceleration platforms (MAPs). These autonomous labs rapidly design materials and molecules needed for a sustainable, healthy, and resilient future, with applications ranging from renewable energy and consumer electronics to drugs. AC Senior Staff Scientists will advance the field of AI-driven autonomous discovery and develop the materials and molecules required to address society's largest challenges, such as climate change, water pollution, and future pandemics.

The Acceleration Consortium (AC) promotes inclusive research environment and supports the EDI priorities of the unit.


Hiring is occurring on a rolling intake. Please apply ASAP and do not wait for the listed job closing date.


The Acceleration Consortium received a $200M Canadian First Research Excellence Grant for seven years to develop self-driving labs for chemistry and materials, the largest ever grant to a Canadian University. This grant will provide the Acceleration Consortium with seven years of funding to execute its vision.


The AC is developing seven advanced SDLs. These include:

  • SDL1 - Inorganic solid-state compounds for advanced materials and energy

  • SDL2 - Organic small molecules for sustainability and health

  • SDL3 - Medicinal chemistry for improving small molecule drug candidates

  • SDL4 - Polymers for materials science and biological applications

  • SDL5 - Formulations for pharmaceuticals, consumer products, and coatings

  • SDL6 - Biocompatibility with organoids / organ-on-a-chip

  • SDL7 - Synthetic scale-up of materials and molecules (University of British Colombia partner lab)

  • A central AI and Automation lab to support all the SDLs


      This posted position is for a Senior Staff Scientist within the AI and Automation Lab. 


      Expertise in one or more of the following areas is desired:


  • Generative modelling

  • Active learning, exploration, optimal experiment design, Bayesian optimization

  • Reinforcement and imitation learning

  • Safe exploration and learning

  • Representation learning

  • Learning to search, learning planning heuristics

  • Continual learning, transfer learning (sim-to-real, real-to-sim), meta-learning

  • Domain adaptation

  • Uncertainty quantification, reasoning under uncertainty, POMDPs

  • Neurosymbolic reasoning

  • Simulation-based inference

  • Multimodal foundation models




Senior Staff Scientists will work with a diverse team of leading experts at U of T, including: Professors Anatole von Lilienfeld, Florian Shkurti, Animesh Garg, Alán Aspuru-Guzik, Oleksandr Voznyy, and more.


The Senior Staff Scientists involved in the AC are highly skilled and experienced researchers who will work independently to develop the AI and automation technologies required to build robust and scalable self-driving labs, manage these SDLs, and design and implement research programs (based on the direction of the AC’s scientific leadership team) that leverage the SDL platforms to discover materials and molecules.


Senior Staff Scientists will play a leadership role within the AC research enterprise; and set objectives and directions for a subgroup of Staff Scientists. These positions involve a significant degree of autonomy and latitude on how to achieve the ambitious goals of the AC. This role will report to the Academic Director and Executive Director of the Acceleration Consortium. We are looking for individuals with diverse backgrounds and expertise to support the development of self-driving labs and materials discovery.


The components and duties of the work include:

  1. SDL and Automation Development

Working with the AC community, including faculty and partners to determine the required capabilities of the SDLs to be built. Developing the plans for SDLs that will meet user requirements and designing novel instruments for automated material synthesis and characterization. Developing customized hardware and Python software packages to build SDLs. Selection, procurement, and installation of the equipment required for SDLs.


  1. Facility Management and Operations

Working with the department of Chemistry, Facilities and Operations, and AC research staff to ensure that the AC labs are fully operational.

  • Overseeing the activity of the laboratory technicians servicing the labs

  • Supporting the selection, procurement, and installation of equipment

  • Managing laboratory budgets

  • Scheduling and coordinating lab access

  1. Research Direction

Working as a co-investigator, in partnership with the Principal Investigator, independent management, development, and execution of research programs that leverage the AC’s SDLs and supports the research objectives of AC faculty and industry partners. Using SDLs to synthesize and characterize large quantities of candidate molecules, calibrating theoretical models with experimental data, predicting promising candidates with computational tools and machine learning algorithms, and elucidating structure-property relationships of emerging molecules, polymers, solid-state materials, formulations, etc.

Tasks include:  

  • Managing the research and development projects of AC’s industry partners when implemented in AC labs.

  • Developing plans that support research collaborations and planning and estimating financial resources required for programs and/or projects.

  • Supervising the work of Staff Scientists, Software Engineers, Research Associates, and Post-doctoral Fellows.

  • Working with Product Managers to ensure research outcomes meet partner requirements.

  • Monitoring and reporting on relevant research activity to the Academic Director and Executive Director.

  • Promoting AC’s research capacity, including delivering presentations at conferences.

  • Collaboration in the preparation and submission of research proposals to granting agencies and progress reporting. 

  • Preparing manuscripts for submission to peer review publications/journals and stewarding them through the process.


  1. Other

    • Supporting consulting services related to the application of SDLs for materials discovery for the AC’s partners.

    • Support research-focused events such as the Annual Symposium.


Education – Ph.D. in chemistry, materials science, life sciences, physics, engineering, robotics, computer science, or related discipline 



  • Over 10 years of experience in research and development 

  • Experience working closely with a Principal Investigator or as a Principal Investigator, or as a Project Director with responsibilities of managing, developing and executing a major research project

  • Strong experience and expert knowledge of AI and automation.

  • Experience with the development of self-driving laboratories and overseeing the activities of a lab

  • Experience working with industry partners and on industry led research and development projects

  • Strong experience presenting research at academic conferences

  • Experience managing research staff

  • Experience managing a laboratory budget and procuring equipment

  • Must have a strong scholarly publication record



  • Strong and effective communicator in oral and written English

  • Collegial in working with team members and collaborators

  • Ability to work independently



  • Demonstrated success in the writing and preparation of manuscripts, presentations, reports, briefs, and scientific abstracts and manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority

Closing Date: 07/31/2024, 11:59PM ET
Employee Group: Research Associate
Appointment Type: Grant - Continuing
Schedule: Full-Time
Pay Scale Group & Hiring Zone: 
150K - 180K (salary will be assessed based on skills and experince)
Job Category: Administrative / Managerial

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.

Diversity Statement

The University of Toronto embraces Diversity and is building a culture of belonging that increases our capacity to effectively address and serve the interests of our global community. We strongly encourage applications from Indigenous Peoples, Black and racialized persons, women, persons with disabilities, and people of diverse sexual and gender identities. We value applicants who have demonstrated a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and recognize that diverse perspectives, experiences, and expertise are essential to strengthening our academic mission.

As part of your application, you will be asked to complete a brief Diversity Survey. This survey is voluntary. Any information directly related to you is confidential and cannot be accessed by search committees or human resources staff. Results will be aggregated for institutional planning purposes. For more information, please see

Accessibility Statement

The University strives to be an equitable and inclusive community, and proactively seeks to increase diversity among its community members. Our values regarding equity and diversity are linked with our unwavering commitment to excellence in the pursuit of our academic mission.

The University is committed to the principles of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). As such, we strive to make our recruitment, assessment and selection processes as accessible as possible and provide accommodations as required for applicants with disabilities.

If you require any accommodations at any point during the application and hiring process, please contact

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