van der Schaar Lab

Ahmed Alaa receives 2021 Edward K. Rice Outstanding Doctoral Student Award from UCLA

The van der Schaar Lab is delighted to announce that Ahmed Alaa has received the 2021 Edward K. Rice Outstanding Doctoral Student Award from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

The award is administered by the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering on an annual basis, and honors the achievements of a single alumnus (chosen from among all of the School’s departments) who has demonstrated academic and research excellence, leadership, and service to the school, university or community.

Ahmed joined the van der Schaar Lab as a PhD student in 2015, and completed his doctoral research (supervised by Mihaela van der Schaar) in December 2019. His dissertation, entitled “Discovering Data-Driven Actionable Intelligence for Clinical Decision Support,” is available here. Since 2020, Ahmed has remained with the lab as a postdoctoral scholar at UCLA and an affiliated postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge (COVID-19 task force). His primary research focus has been on individualized treatment effect inference, automated machine learning (AutoML), uncertainty quantification and time-series analysis.

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Winning the 2021 award is a testament to Ahmed’s leadership and creativity across a wide range of projects with a broad societal and clinical impact. In the course of his graduate work, Ahmed developed methods to analyze clinical data for millions of patients across many diseases, and built local and nation-wide clinical decision-support systems for hospitals in the US and around the world. He has also worked in a scientific advisory capacity for governments trying to contain the COVID-19 pandemic using data and AI, and has spearheaded the lab’s work on COVID-19 prognosis, resource management, and analysis of the impact of ethnicity on mortality risk.

The full announcement is available on the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering’s website. A list of former winners can be found here.

As one of the dominant forces driving progress in a burgeoning area, the van der Schaar Lab continues to grow its research team. Six PhD students joined the lab in October 2020, a new postdoc started in April 2021, and the 2021 intake of researchers will be announced in the coming months.

To see a full list of our current research team members, click here.

Nick Maxfield

Nick oversees the van der Schaar Lab’s communications, including media relations, content creation, and maintenance of the lab’s online presence.

Nick studied Japanese (BA Hons.) at the University of Oxford, graduating in 2012. Nick previously worked in HQ communications roles at Toyota (2013-2016) and Nissan (2016-2020).

Given his humanities/languages background and experience in communications, Nick is well-positioned to highlight and explain the real-world impact of research that can often be quite esoteric. Thankfully, he is comfortable asking almost endless questions in order to understand a topic.

Mihaela van der Schaar

Mihaela van der Schaar is the John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Medicine at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow at The Alan Turing Institute in London, and a Chancellor’s Professor at UCLA.

Mihaela has received numerous awards, including the Oon Prize on Preventative Medicine from the University of Cambridge (2018), a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2004), 3 IBM Faculty Awards, the IBM Exploratory Stream Analytics Innovation Award, the Philips Make a Difference Award and several best paper awards, including the IEEE Darlington Award.

In 2019, she was identified by National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts as the most-cited female AI researcher in the UK. She was also elected as a 2019 “Star in Computer Networking and Communications” by N²Women. Her research expertise span signal and image processing, communication networks, network science, multimedia, game theory, distributed systems, machine learning and AI.

Mihaela’s research focus is on machine learning, AI and operations research for healthcare and medicine.