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Tribune News Network
A PhD in Computer Science and engineering student at the College of Science and Engineering (CSE), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), recently completed a prestigious fellowship at the Centre for Humanitarian Data in The Hague, the Netherlands. The 2019 Data Fellows Program, now in its second year, was offered to only four candidates from a global applicant pool.
Ghadeer Abuoda, who is also an intern at the Data Analytics group at Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), was selected as a Data Science Fellow by the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). One of the main themes of the 2019 Data Fellows Program, which is made possible through a partnership with the Education Above All Foundation (EAA), is a focus on education data, which signifies their shared goal of increasing the participation of persons with disabilities through a clear commitment to the social development goal of equality and inclusion.
The 2019 class of data fellows focused on four areas: Business Strategy, Data Science (education data), Predictive Analytics, and Statistics (disability data). The inclusion of a focus on disability data is of particular significance to EAA this year reflecting their continuous commitment to the social development goal of quality and inclusion.
Commenting on her rewarding experience as a participant in the programme, Ghadeer said, “During my fellowship, I explored different technologies that improve access to humanitarian datasets and help humanitarian actors who transform people’s lives, particularly in the education domain. The experience afforded me a unique opportunity to apply relevant knowledge and problem-solving skills that I have gained as a student at HBKU. Working closely with a diverse team also gave me the chance to develop my teamwork and communication skills.”
During her fellowship, Ghadeer applied machine-learning techniques to improve the tagging of data sets related to education on the humanitarian data exchange. Her model will improve access to and use of data about education in conflict environments. It will help teams explore how war and conflict can detrimentally affect children’s rights and access to education.
Commenting on Ghadeer’s achievement, Dr Dena Ahmed S al Thani, assistant professor at CSE, said, “As part of the college’s commitment to supporting students at HBKU, CSE collaborates with EAA each year to offer students the opportunity to apply for this highly selective UN Data Fellowship Program at the Centre for Humanitarian Data in The Hague. An annual awareness workshop that is jointly hosted by EAA and CSE is specifically designed to help HBKU students learn more about obtaining the Data Fellowships; thereby fulfilling a common commitment to exposing applicants to a globally applicable learning experience.”
Ghadeer’s ongoing research as a PhD candidate at CSE aims to develop artificial intelligence algorithms that improve understanding of complex networks of connections between people and predict their future properties. She also works with a team of scientists and engineers at QCRI exploring machine learning and graph databases.
Dr Ashraf Aboulnaga, senior research director at QCRI and Ghadeer’s advisor, said, “Ghadeer is an exceptional addition to our team and has access to data and computing resources that have been very helpful in building her skills. Her experience with us has enabled her to ground her work in tackling real-life challenges and design practical approaches. The team at QCRI fully supported her application for the Data Fellows Program at the UN OCHA Centre for Humanitarian Data and I am delighted to see that Ghadeer has been successful in her work there.”
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