Published October 26, 2016
An international leader in computational linguistics and ontology is the Department of Biomedical Informatics’ first Fulbright scholar.
Mustafa Jarrar, PhD, a computer scientist from Palestine’s Birzeit University, has joined the department for the 2016-2017 academic year.
“Fulbright scholars can choose to spend their sabbatical at any institution in the U.S.,” says Peter L. Elkin, MD, founding chair of the department — the newest in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
“We are very proud that Dr. Jarrar has chosen UB.”
Jarrar’s focus at UB is biomedical ontology, the science of classifying and describing relationships between things, allowing people from disparate disciplines to speak the same “language.”
Along with Elkin and other departmental faculty, Jarrar is working closely with Werner Ceusters, MD, professor of biomedical informatics and psychiatry, and director of the Ontology Research Group in UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics.
Jarrar will leverage his expertise in in computational linguistics and knowledge representation to contribute to the field of biomedical terminology and scientific ontologies, including processes and actions in the human body.
He’s also exploring mapping the Arabic ontology, a formal representation of the concepts that the Arabic terms convey, with medical ontologies being developed at UB.
“Dr. Jarrar’s experience here will enable cross-lingual — and maybe cross-cultural — knowledge-sharing applications, while also allowing him to establish a long-term research cooperation with members of our department and other UB scholars who are pioneering figures in ontology,” Elkin says.
An associate professor of computer science at Birzeit University, Jarrar was a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Cyprus and a senior research scientist at Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, where he completed his PhD.
He has written more than 50 articles on ontology engineering, lexical semantics, logic, semantic web, graph databases and interoperability.
Jarrar has coordinated or managed 20 international and European Union projects related to natural language processing and ontology.
For his work on natural language processing, he also won a Google Faculty Research Award, which recognizes and supports cutting-edge research in computer science and related fields.
At Birzeit University, Jarrar founded the Sina Institute for Knowledge Engineering and Arabic Technologies, and the Palestinian e-Government Academy.
He has served as an adviser on e-government for the Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology, where he developed and chaired the Palestinian e-Government Interoperability Framework.
Jarrar is a member of the International Federation for Information Processing 2.12 on Web Semantics, and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia Technology Centre Board of Governors, among other affiliations.