About me

I am currently a research scientist in the Center for Language and Speech Processing and Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU). I was previously a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and holds a PhD in computer science from Dr. Mona Diab’s NLP lab at the George Washington University.

I currently focus on building and developing Natural Language Processing (NLP) models for mental health in both clinical and social media settings. In our work, we aim to build explainable models that are reliable to be adopted by a mental health expert as opposed to providing models that act like black box. Additionally, we are interested in building fair models that don’t only yield high prediction performance for certain groups, but rather is sensitive to underrepresented groups as well. I have also been actively involved in suicide risk assessment research in social media, and published the UMD Reddit Suicidality Dataset, one of the few annotated suicide risk assessment datasets.

During my postdoc fellowship, I developed health informatics NLP solutions for retrieving mobility and mental health status to improve the disability eligibility process at the Social Security Administration (SSA). Previously during my PhD, I worked on transfer learning techniques for high-low resource settings, especially for NER. Additionally, I contributed to the Arabic NLP domain, and co-authored MADAMIRA, the leading toolset for Arabic NLP.

I am also currently working on language stigmatization in clinical notes in addition to gender equity in social media. 

Some old news:

  • In May 2018, I was featured as a guest in Women in AI podcast. If you would like to hear more about my work at NIH and in the mental health domain, please listen to episode 29.

  • I passed my PhD defense in December, 2017. I added my slides if you would like to know more about my dissertation.

For more info about me, please check my CV.

Non technical note about me: it is always confusing for people to call me Aya or Ayah. I like to use the former, but the latter is my legal name; so feel free to use whichever you prefer 🙂