LAU Scientists Recognized Among Top 2 Percent Worldwide

Listing of four LAU scientists among the top 2 percent in their fields worldwide attests to the quality and impact of research at the university.

By Dana K. Haffar

LAU President Michel E. Mawad, Dean of the School of Engineering Lina Karam, Dean of Graduate Studies and Research Samer Saab and Professor of Electrical Engineering Chadi Abou Rjeily, all received recognition in the Stanford-led study.

A study led by Stanford faculty member and researcher John Ioannidis and published in PLOS Biology has provided a public database of standardized citation metrics for 100,000 top scientists in the world classified into 22 scientific fields and 176 sub-fields.

LAU President Michel E. Mawad, Dean of the School of Engineering Lina Karam, Dean of Graduate Studies and Research Samer Saab and Professor of Electrical Engineering Chadi Abou Rjeily received recognition, with Dr. Karam and Dr. Saab ranking first in Lebanon in their respective fields.

We invited each of them to expand on the research that earned them the recognition and its contribution to scientific knowledge.

LAU President Michel E. Mawad

Ranked at no. 1,699 out of 84,246 scientists worldwide in Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging, LAU President Michel E. Mawad’s research has focused on lymphatic and cancer imaging, opening doors to using molecular imaging techniques in the diagnosis and possible treatment modalities of several major disease conditions such as cancer, impaired lymphatic drainage and degenerative disorders.

His citation in the study refers specifically to his extensive work on the lymphatic role in the spread of cancer and how that can be used toward the early detection of lymphoproliferative cancer, such as leukemia, lymphoma and breast cancer. Through his research, Dr. Mawad has contributed to developing new radioactive tracers and technologies in molecular imaging that help produce high-resolution images and signals.

To detect molecular or microscopic cell changes and diagnose a disease at an early stage, radioactive tracers (radiopharmaceuticals) are either injected or imbibed by the patient to produce a real-time visualization and measurement of pathological process in the living organism. An emerging field that integrates advanced imaging technology with cellular and molecular biology, non-invasive molecular imaging provides an effective method of information acquisition for the diagnosis, therapy, drug development and evaluation of treatment efficacy.

Dr. Mawad’s research has resulted in 107 publications in prestigious medical and scientific journals, six book chapters, 24 scientific exhibits, and 211 scientific papers presented at national and international meetings.

Dr. Lina Karam, Dean of the School of Engineering

Dr. Lina Karam’s research, ranked at no. 2,667 out of 215,114 scientists worldwide in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Image Processing, has focused on machine learning, computer vision, image and video processing, compression and transmission.

Dr. Karam has pioneered work in AI in the areas of resilient deep learning and computer vision. In real-world computer vision applications, an image typically undergoes some form of quality degradation during image acquisition or transmission. Although deep neural networks are capable of outperforming the human performance on computer vision tasks, Dr. Karam and her team were the first to show that these networks are susceptible to variations in image quality. Through her work, she has contributed to increasing the robustness and resiliency of deep learning-based computer vision with applications in automated driving, assistive technologies, health and medicine, and surveillance and security.

Dr. Karam has also spearheaded the development of theory and technologies for perceptual-based image processing and compression. The developed visual compression technologies find applicability in visual communications and are particularly suitable for the storage and transmission of medical images and for high-fidelity applications since they can achieve a significant reduction in the size of the data without a perceivable loss. She also was the first to introduce perceptual-based super-resolution methods for image and video restoration and has contributed perceptual-based measures for automatically assessing and optimizing the perceived visual quality.

Dr. Karam’s research has resulted in more than 230 publications in leading scientific journals and conference proceedings. She has co-authored seven book chapters and three books. A Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Dr. Karam is listed as an inventor on seven issued and two filed US patents in the areas of image and video processing, computer vision, and machine learning.   

Dr. Samer Saab, Dean of Graduate Studies and Research

Dr. Samer Saab’s research placed him at no. 825 out of 87,535 scientists worldwide in Industrial Engineering and Automation. His initial research focuses on intelligent automation that mimics the learning process of the human being, where the pivotal idea is to continuously learn from repetitive tasks – a classical application would be in robotics. He founded and developed Stochastic Iterative Learning Control algorithms, and recently introduced and developed Stochastic Multivariable Proportional-Integral-Derivative (PID) controllers that lead to automatic tuning of this class of popular controllers.

Dr. Saab’s research also centers on navigation, where he is considered to be one of the founders of map matching and fingerprinting algorithms. His findings rely on the rail curve fitting for train navigation, another on GPS periodic power signals for outdoor applications, and yet another on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) fingerprinting for indoor and outdoor localization applications. His most recent research has focused on robotic automation and optimization algorithms for training deep neural networks.

In the past few years, variants of stochastic iterative learning control have been widely applied to deal with the communication delays and random packet loss occurring at the communication networks among agents; the curve fitting approach to monitoring track irregularity from in-service railway vehicles; and variants of RFID fingerprinting to mobile robot localization, autonomous vehicle, smart homes, automated guided vehicle for smart factories, and micro aerial vehicles. The main idea behind his patent “Apparatus and method for sensing motionlessness in a vehicle” is now used for sensing a vehicle crash and rollover.

Dr. Saab has served on the Editorial Board of the IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology and the IEEE Control Systems Society-Conference. Since 2015, he has been serving on the Editorial Board of the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, the control society’s flagship journal. He was the recipient of the opening (2007-2008) LAU Best Research Award in engineering and physical sciences.

Dr. Chadi Abou Rjeily, Professor of Electrical Engineering

Dr. Chadi Abou Rjeily was placed at no. 2,465 out of 161,179 scientists worldwide in Networking and Communications. His research focuses on advanced communication techniques for fifth generation (5G) and beyond-5G wireless networks. Such technologies are indispensable for meeting the ever-growing demand for high-speed ultra-reliable communications in diverse networks, including Internet-of-Things (IoT) and e-healthcare networks.

Dr. Abou Rjeily’s research primarily targets Optical Wireless Communications (OWC). The OWC technology alleviates the problem of the congestion of the conventionally used Radio Frequency (RF) spectrum that arises from the massive deployment of wireless devices with an increasing usage of multimedia services.

His recent work focused on improving both the spectral efficiency and energy efficiency of OWC networks and proposed various performance mitigation solutions for enhancing the availability and reliability of the optical links. These solutions included novel collaborative protocols that are tailored to both real-time and delay-tolerant applications.

He also investigated OWC energy harvesting as a disruptive technological paradigm for prolonging the lifetime of energy constrained wireless devices, thus reducing operational expenses and achieving energy sustainability. The research activities also include multipoint-to-multipoint communications, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) flying network platforms, inter-relay cooperation and mixed RF/OWC communications.

Dr. Abou Rjeily has published around 60 papers in leading journals in the area of Networking and Telecommunications and has served as an editor of the IEEE Transactions on Communications from 2012 to 2015. In 2014, he was elected as a member of the executive committee of the Communication Society Chapter of the IEEE Lebanon Section.

To learn more about all scholarly output by the LAU community, browse our open-access digital archive, the Lebanese American University Repository (LAUR).