American University of Beirut

Speakers and Moderators Women in Data Science (WiDS) Webinar @AUB


  • ​​Mariette Awad, PhD, WiDSAUB co-ambassador, Associate Professor, MSFEA

Prof. Mariette Awad is an associate professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the American University of Beirut. Her book “Efficient Learning Machines: Theories, Concepts and Applications for Engineers and Systems”, published in 2015, is among the most open source downloaded books for Summer 2020 according to Springer Nature. She has more than 100 patents, conferences and journals articles and she is managing multimillions grants and multidisciplinary international collaborations.  She is a founding member of the UN ESCWA Knowledge Hub in Beirut and assists in solving central problems related to the knowledge management and decision support processes in the region. She is a WIDS ambassador and she has lead a hackathon, an AI summer school, and founded WIE affinity student group at AUB and the WIE Lebanon chapter. Prior to her academic position, she was with IBM System and Technology group where she earned management recognition, several business awards, and multiple patents. Her current research interests include machine learning, data analytics and internet of things. 

  • ​​Laura Chaibi, ​​International Specialist: Digital Research, Insights and Measurement, Dubai, UAE
Laura has over 20 years leading in digital media research, measurement, and marketing effectiveness. She is CIM qualified and has taken the corporate path client side into senior leadership roles. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she has lived and worked across UK, Europe, Australasia, and the Middle East. More than $200m of global insights has been managed under her watchful eye across primary research, marketing effectiveness, measurement, analytics, commercial forecasting, data and intelligence projects at a company and industry level.  As an early pioneer in digital, she helped build the commercial and content measurement industry; from spearheading cross screen media measurement through to being a technical committee member for digital media using panel, tagged and census level data solutions worldwide.  
She has worked for companies including Yahoo, BBC, Orange, and more recently at Nielsen as Senior Consultant on global media projects. 
Winning many industry awards along the way including ‘women of tomorrow’, she has led teams in over 10 countries meshing the best of both marketing and insights. She was commissioned by Econsultancy to author a best practice guide on digital transformation and the role of data and her first patent submissions ‘digital memories for advertising’ covered innovative ways for consumers to interact with commercial communications using single sign on and cloud based solutions.
Since 2017 Laura has been active on the WIRe board – Women in Research Executives - a USA not for profit and she remains dedicated to helping up and coming talent become great achievers of tomorrow.  

​Maha R Farhat, MD, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, ​​Boston, MA

Maha Farhat holds an MD from the McGill University Faculty of Medicine and a MSc in biostatistics from the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. She is computational biology and a practicing physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. Dr. Farhat’s research focuses on the development and application of methods for associating genotype and phenotype in infectious disease pathogens, with a strong emphasis on translation to better diagnostics and surveillance in resource-poor settings. To date, Farhat’s work has focused on the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis and spans the spectrum from computational analysis to field studies. She is PI and Co-Investigator on several large projects funded by NIH including NIAID and the BD2K initiative. 

  • Amber GhaddarPhD, Founder, AllianceBlock, London, UK

Dr Amber Ghaddar is one of the founders of AllianceBlock, the blockchain startup building the framework for the world’s first globally compliant capital market by bridging CeFi and DeFi. The startup was formed in 2018 and has constantly ranked in the best early stage fintechs in Europe (Money2020, Websummit…). AllianceBlock issued its token in September 2020 and is now in the top 200 crypto projects by market capitalization. It however, ranks fourth in terms of women founded crypto projects by market capitalization. She is the mastermind behind participative capitalism and calibrocracy and has been invited to world class events to give talks on the subject (Davos, Money20/20, TEDx, UN Women, BBC…). She was listed in the “Rising Women In Crypto Powerlist 2020” by the Fintech Times. Additionally, she is a guest lecturer at EDHEC Business School in France. 
Previously, Amber was a bond trader at JP Morgan London where she held various leadership positions. She started her career in Global Investment Research at Goldman Sachs London, and moved from there to the Cross Asset Solution team at JP Morgan London in 2012, where she built the JP Morgan UK MultiAsset franchise. Later, she spearheaded the Macro Systematic Trading Strategies team at JP Morgan London. 
Amber holds a B.Sc in Science & Technology, Three Masters (Neurosciences, Microelectronics & Nanotechnologies, and International Risk Management & Business) and a PhD in Molecular Medicine. She is a graduate of McGill Canada and HEC Paris.
In her free time, Amber is an advocate of women in tech and blockchain, she believes in order to see more women in C-level roles we need to increase the pool of women developers which stand at only 12.5% of total developers in the UK. She sits on the board of BIBA and is a mentor at Global Thinkers Forum, Like Minded Females Network and UN Women.

  • ​​​​​Rana HajjehDirector, Program Management (DPM), WHO/EMRO, Cairo Egypt

Dr Hajjeh is a senior public health leader with 25 years experience in global health, health policy and diplomacy, and health management, especially in the Middle East Region. Dr Hajjeh is currently holding the position of the Director of Programme Management (DPM) at the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) since April 2019 (i.e. deputy regional director for technical issues). In her capacity as DPM, she directs and leads all the technical public health programs at the regional level, including universal health coverage and systems, communicable and non communicable diseases, information and science, as well as health promotion, working closely with the Emergency department, HQ in Geneva, and all 22 countries and offices. Prior to that position, she was holding te position of the Director of the Department of Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control. In this capacity, she played a major role in supporting emergency response in the Region, and in accelerating the agenda for prevention and control of vaccine preventable diseases, HIV, hepatitis, malaria, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, and antimicrobial resistance.

Prior to joining WHO/EMRO in 2016, Dr Hajjeh was working with the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) for 23 years, where she held many senior positions with increasingly complex management responsibilities, and worked extensively in the Middle East. Between 2005-2010, Dr Hajjeh was the Director of the GAVI Hib vaccine Initiative, that introduced lifesaving vaccines for Hib meningitis and pneumonia to millions of children in limited resource countries around the world. Between 1996 and 2016, Dr Hajjeh led many responses to major epidemics across the world, including meningitis during Hajj in Saudi Arabia in 2000, cholera in Haiti in 2010, and recently MERS coronavirus in Saudi Arabia and Ebola in West Africa. She has considerable experience in health policies and systems, and supported development of various global policies for prevention of infectious diseases, such as for new vaccines and strategies for building laboratory and surveillance systems.
Throughout her career, she managed increasingly complex departments and initiatives with large budgets. She is a well known speaker, and advocate for strong public health capacity in the region, and for the right to health of every person. She has broad health diplomacy skills working with ministries ofhealth and governments in the Middle East and globally, and many global and regional partners and donors She is fully fluent in Arabic (mother language), French and English. 

  • Ghida Ibrahim, PhD, Senior Quantitative Engineer, Facebook , London, UK
Ghida is a technical lead & senior quantitative engineer in the infrastructure team at Facebook London, where she drives cross-functional efforts around leveraging automation and data science to help scale and optimize Facebook massive infrastructure. Prior to joining Facebook, Ghida worked for 6+ years in the Telco and media industries, in France and the Netherlands in multiple analytics and engineering roles, mainly focusing on capacity scaling and performance optimization of large-scale distributed systems. She holds a PhD and master’s (Diplome d’Ingénieur) in computer engineering from Telecom ParisTech, France top Grande Ecole in ICT. She got her PhD at 26.

In addition to her job, Ghida built Rafiqi, an award-winning platform that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) for connecting refugees to life opportunities. She is a data science trainer who delivered in-person workshops on data science and machine learning to hundreds of domain outsiders, and prepared and delivered the first MOOC on data science in Arabic attracting 27k+ learners. She is an appointed member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Future Councils since 2016, a member of the WEF expert Network, and an alumni of the WEF Global Shapers Community.
Ghida is a TED speaker and has delivered dozens of lectures and technical talks in academic and industry settings. She also served as an advisor and board member of many NGOs working on bringing more minorities into tech. Ghida has multiple patents and academic publications to her name, and occasionally contributes to technology blogs and to the World Economic Forum Agenda. Most recently, she was recognized as a Franco-British Young Leader, among 20 other leaders from the UK and France including MPs, reputed scientists and artists, in charge of fostering relationships between France and the UK and shaping its future across sectors of society and economy.

  • ​​Franç​oise Provencher, PhD,  Staff Data Scientist, Shopify, Montreal, Canada​
Françoise is a Staff Data Scientist at Shopify, an ecommerce SaaS company based in Canada. Her focus is to help product teams make good data-informed decisions. Before joining Shopify, she did a PhD in experimental physics and a post-doctoral fellowship in machine learning. Although she loves the switch to data science, she secretly misses shooting lasers on stuff.

  • Carine Sakr, MD, MPH, Director Employee Health, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Chair, Expert Committee on COVID-19, American University of Beirut, Assistant Professor-Adjunct, Yale University School of Medicine, Connecticut, USA
Carine J. Sakr, MD, MPH joined the American University of Beirut (AUB) as the Director of Employee Health and Assistant Professor of Medicine in January 2018. She is also
an assistant professor-adjunct at the Yale University School of Medicine. She earned her medical degree from Saint Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon and her public health degree from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA. She completed her Internal Medicine Residency and her Occupational and Environmental Medicine Fellowship in the US and is American Board certified in Internal Medicine and Occupational & Environmental Medicine. 
Dr. Sakr practiced Occupational Medici​ne and completed research in Occupational
 Epidemiology in private and governmental settings in the United States. She was also the program director of the Yale Occupational and Environmental Medicine fellowship training and lectured at the Yale University School of Public Health. Before relocating to Lebanon in 2018, ​she worked briefly at the Ministry of Health and Prevention of the United Arab Emirates. 
Dr. Sakr’s research interests include the occupational health and safety of healthcare workers. In February 2020 she was appointed as the chair of the Expert Committee on COVID-19 at AUB and has been heavily involved in the University and Medical Center’s preparedness and response to COVID-19. She is also the Principal Investigator of a USAID funded project at AUB: a Nation Wide Approach to Respond to the COVID-19 Spread in Lebanon.

  • ​Carla Talarico, Senior Director, Lead Epidemiologist, COVID-19 Vaccines at Moderna, USA

Experienced Senior Epidemiologist with a demonstrated history of working in the pharmaceutical industry and public sector. Skilled in Pharmacoepidemiology, Infectious and Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Molecular Epidemiology, Global Health, and Clinical Research. Strong research professional and strategic thinker with demonstrated history of successful collaborations with major academic institutions and CROs. Expertise in real-world data and real-world evidence (RWE) with a strong focus on use of RWE in the regulatory environment and for pharmacovigilance.


  • Hoda Daou, ​​​PhDWiDS@AUB co-ambassador, Head of Applied Analytics, MBC Media Solutions, Dubai UAE

Hoda is the Head of Applied Analytics at MBC Media Solutions where she handles data science initiatives focused on automating and integrating data flows, extracting insights and building analytics pipelines across diverse applications. Prior to her current role, she was an Assistant Professor in Business Information and Decision Systems at the Olayan School of Business, AUB. She holds a PhD in Computer and Electrical Engineering, McGill University. During her doctoral studies, her research work focused on the area of signal processing. The research work she has done, in both academic and corporate paths, focused on multiple disciplines such as information theory, data mining and distributed computing.

  • ​​Souha S. Kanj, MD, FACP, FIDSA, FRCP, FECMM, FESCMI, Professor of Medicine, Head, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine Chair, Infection Control and Prevention Program Co-Director, Antimicrobial Stewardship Program, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Consultant Professor, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, Honorary Dr, Radboud University Medical Center, NL​​

Souha Kanj is currently a tenured Professor of Medicine at the American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon, and Consulting Professor at the Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA, where she also undertook her training in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases.  
Professor Kanj is extensively published, with more than 220 papers in national and international journals such as Mycoses, Infection, Lancet Infectious Diseases and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). She has also been an invited author of numerous book chapters, journal reviews and UpToDate® cards and is currently Principal Investigator on research projects on topics related to antimicrobial resistance. Professor Kanj has contributed greatly to the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) in various programmes, such as the R&D Blueprint Annual Review of Priority Diseases, the Global Infection Prevention and Control Network, and the WHO Priority Pathogens List Project for Antimicrobial Resistant Bacteria. In 2020 she was appointed to serve on the WHO COVID-19 Guidance Development Group of experts (COVID-19 IPC GDG). 
Professor Kanj is a fellow of the American College of Physicians (FACP), the Infectious Diseases Society of America (FIDSA), the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP), the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (FESCMID) and the European Confederation of Medical Mycology (FECMM). She is a member of the scientific affairs committee of ESCMID and was elected to the executive committee of the International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (ISAC) in November 2019. 
She has served on panels for international guidelines such as IDSA vertebral osteomyelitis and the recent ECMM global mucormycosis, and the rare yeasts guidelines. 
In 2014, she was invited as a Visiting Scholar Professor at the Division of Infectious Diseases at Duke University Medical Center, and at Radboud University Medical Centre (UMC), Nijmegen, The Netherlands, in 2018. 
Professor Kanj has been the recipient of numerous honours and awards throughout her career, including the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research award in 2014 and the Abdul Hameed Shoman award for researchers in the Arab world in 2017. In 2018, she received from Radboud University Medical Center, in Nijmegen the Valkhof professorship followed by an honorary degree in October 2020.​

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