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Emirati Masdar student becomes first PhD to defend thesis in 'Big Data'.

Emirati student from Masdar becomes first in country to get PhD on subject.

Abu Dhabi -- The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology on Tuesday announced that one of its Emirati PhD students has become the first in the country to defend a thesis in the field of data science and computational social science.

PhD student Aamena Ali Alshamsi's thesis titled 'The good life in the network: How social networks shape our personality and emotions' covers some of the highly technical aspects of 'Big Data.' During her thesis defence, she elaborated on the possibilities of using social media and mobile phones to understand what makes society happy. Alshamsi received her doctorate degree at the Masdar Institute commencement ceremony that was held on May 26.

Alshamsi will also be presenting her paper at the International Conference on Network Science (NetSci) that is being held from June 1 -5 in Zaragoza, Spain.

The three-member PhD committee that reviewed Alshami's thesis research included Dr. Iyad Rahwan and Dr. Jacob Crandall, both Associate Professors, Computing and Information Science, Masdar Institute, as well as Dr. Alex Pentland, Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, and Director of the Media Lab Entrepreneurship Programme, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab.

Since Alshamsi's interdisciplinary research required support from social scientists, she and her advisors also collaborated with Dr. Fabio Pianesi, Vice-Director for Research at Trento Research, Innovation and Education System (Trento RISE), and Vice-President of European Institute of Innovation and Technology Information and Communication Technologies (EIT ICT) Labs, Italy, and Bruno Lepri, who leads the Mobile and Social Computing Lab (MobS Lab) at Bruno Kessler Foundation, Trento, Italy.

The entry from Masdar Institute's Social Computing and Artificial Intelligence Lab ubsequently became one of the 10 finalists chosen from among more than 600 participating teams. Alshamsi travelled to Trento, Italy, to represent the team at the Big Data Jam.

Alshamsi believes her research findings can be used for the well-being of people through tuning the structures of people's social networks. A proud recipient of the UAE National Research Foundation's (NRF) 'Young Emirati Researcher' Award 2012, Alshamsi believes her achievements were possible because of her passion for knowledge and scientific research.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jun 2, 2015
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