Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

Meet Masdar’s first Emirati PhD graduate in the field of big data research

Aamena Al Shamsi has successfully defended a thesis in the field of data science at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, the institute announced.
Aamena Al Shamsi’s research focuses on the use of social media and mobile phones to understand society. Courtesy Masdar
Aamena Al Shamsi’s research focuses on the use of social media and mobile phones to understand society. Courtesy Masdar

The UAE has its first doctorate degree holder in the sphere of big data research.

Aamena Al Shamsi has successfully presented a thesis in the field of data science at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, the institute announced.

The thesis, titled The Good Life in the Network: How Social Networks Shape our Personality and Emotions, elaborates on the possibilities of using social media and smartphones to understand what makes society happy. Ms Al Shamsi believes her findings can be used in a wider context.

“Although my thesis focused on specific topics in social sciences, I believe the application of the methodologies and the findings ... can go beyond the boundaries of social sciences,” she said. “I believe that the methodologies could be extended to provide real-time analytics about individuals and collectives for timely interventions by decision-makers.”

A recipient of the 2012 Young Emirati Researcher award by the UAE National Research Foundation, Ms Al Shamsi is currently presenting her findings at the International Conference on Network Science (NetSci) in Zaragoza, Spain.

One of the PhD committee members that reviewed Ms Al Shamsi’s research was Dr Alex Pentland, professor of media arts and sciences, and director of the media lab entrepreneurship programme at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr Pentland, recently named by Forbes magazine as one of the world’s seven most powerful data scientists, described Ms Al Shamsi’s thesis as a “substantial contribution to the literature and a first-class work”.

Another committee member, Dr Jacob Crandall, associate professor of computing and information science at Masdar Institute, said the key to the young woman’s success was her determination.

“Aamena was able to complete a good PhD thesis because of her persistence. Her ability to keep trying even when things do not seem to be going her way is one of her greatest strengths,” Dr Crandall said.

Ms Al Shamsi’s research required support and she and her advisers collaborated with Dr Fabio Pianesi, vice-director for research at Trento Research, Innovation and Education System, and Bruno Lepri, who leads the mobile and social computing lab at Bruno Kessler Foundation in Italy.

newsdesk@thenational.ae

Updated: June 2, 2015 04:00 AM

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