Christopher Symons, Ph.D., MSc

Chief Artificial Intelligence Scientist

“A discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument is an exchange of ignorance.”
– Robert Quillen

Dr. Symons joined Lirio in November of 2018 and currently serves as the Chief Artificial Intelligence Scientist. He leads Lirio’s distinguished team of Machine Learning Research Scientists and Engineers. Dr. Symons also serves as Co-Director of Lirio’s Behavioral Reinforcement Learning Lab (BReLL) alongside Dr. Amy Bucher.

Dr. Symons earned a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from the University of Tennessee with a dissertation focused on high-dimensional machine learning and analysis. Prior to joining Lirio, he spent 15 years at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) crafting novel machine learning solutions to problems of national interest. During his tenure at ORNL, Dr. Symons served as the Head of the Science Council for the Computer Science & Mathematics Division, served on both the Artificial Intelligence Leadership Team and the Bredesen Center Leadership Team, and earned four Significant Event Awards. Dr. Symons also held an appointment as a Joint Faculty Member in the University of Tennessee’s Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education.

Dr. Symons has authored numerous research publications on machine learning and algorithm design.



Fun Facts

Favorite thing as a child: Anything to do with the water (sailing, swimming, skiing, fishing, or even just wading in the creek to catch tadpoles and crawfish).

Special hobbies/interests: Soccer has been a huge part of my life. I’ve played since I was four years old and coached my kids since they were five, and I even enjoy watching “the beautiful game” often. I’m slightly addicted to UNC basketball. I enjoy just about any kind of outdoor activity or sport, like water skiing, swimming, tennis, golf, snow skiing, hiking, canoeing, etc. And I’ve always been a voracious reader, although I’m more likely to be reading a research paper than a novel nowadays. 

Location: I grew up in Virginia and North Carolina, but Knoxville has been my home for a long time now.

Other: I have been to Oahu about a dozen times, so if you need directions, just ask! I attended the nation’s first public residential STEM high school, the North Carolina School of Science and Math. My wife, Amie, and I have a beautiful blended family of 6 kids.

Extra Credit