I have worked in the areas of natural language processing (NLP), artificial intelligence (AI), social media analytics, and cognitive science for over 20 years, leading a number of research and government projects. My professional interests include developing linguistically-informed computational models of natural language; the application of NLP and AI to the study of complex social processes; and the discovery of knowledge through the study of semantic, temporal, and causal relations in unstructured text. More recently, my work explores the applications of technology and artificial intelligence in the legal domain. I have managed several R&D teams that have implemented a variety of application systems for narrative analytics, blog and Twitter analytics, and knowledge discovery. I have experience in a variety of NLP tasks (machine translation, information extraction, computational grammar development, annotation standards, and system evaluations), with an emphasis on less commonly investigated languages and with a strong specialization on Persian.
My formal linguistic research focuses on the close association between syntactic structure and semantic interpretation across languages, and the investigation of natural laws in language. I have written several publications on complex predicates, causatives, and verb phrase structure in Persian and Armenian, and I am currently studying the role of recursion and scaling in linguistic structure.
I have served on various conference and workshop program committees, organized forums to bring together the Persian linguistics and NLP community, and have taught courses in social media and narrative analysis at Georgetown University. I am currently working on the development of technology for the pedagogy of Persian heritage language in the classroom.
At a Persian linguistics conference in Leipzig with Professors Jila Ghomeshi, Vida Samiian, and Simin Karimi (2005)
I was born in Tehran, Iran; originally of Armenian descent. I grew up mostly within the Armenian community, attending an Armenian bilingual school in Tehran. I left the country a year after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. I lived in Paris for couple of years and then finished high school in Los Angeles. After studying Electrical Engineering for three years, I switched fields and received my undergraduate degree in Physics at the University of Southern California (USC), pursued graduate studies in Neural Computation, and then went on to get my PhD in Linguistics at USC, studying with Prof. Jean-Roger Vergnaud.
While finishing my doctoral degree, I started working at the Computing Research Lab in New Mexico, directed by Prof. Sergei Nirenburg, where I worked on the development of the Shiraz project, the first Persian-English machine translation system ... back in 1998-2000. My experience at CRL launched my career in the field of computational linguistics, while continuing my theoretical linguistic research on the side. I worked at Inxight Software in Silicon Valley, California for a few years (now part of SAP), developing computational grammars for Persian and Arabic. While living in San Diego, I also taught Armenian and Persian heritage language courses at the University of California, San Diego. I moved to Washington, D.C. in 2005 where, after a short stint as a researcher at the Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL) at the University of Maryland, I started work at the MITRE Corporation where I have been for the last 14 years. While in D.C., I also taught courses at the Communication, Culture and Technology department at Georgetown University as Adjunct Faculty, and earned a graduate certificate degree in Computational Social Science at George Mason University.
I am now living in Miami, Florida where the oceans are warm and the tropical fruits are plenty!