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Faculty Rockstar: Maryam Davoudpour

Written by Anju Kakkar

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Maryam Davoudpour, Ph. D. 

Professor: Electronics | Faculty of Applied Sciences and Technology (FAST)

Chair IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) – Toronto Section

Photo of Maryam, her title, a quote from the article, Humber research & innovation logo

Humber College is committed to principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and this commitment reflects ongoing and productive engagement within and outside the Humber community. We are delighted to highlight and celebrate the contributions of one of our distinguished faculty, our Researcher Rockstar, a pioneer: Maryam Davoudpour. She is indeed a role model who has contributed immensely to the research community as much as to broaden learner participation in engineering; she continues to push forward in the STEM fields, and those achievements continue to move other women into the STEM fields.

“Science is not a boy’s game; it’s not a girl’s game. It’s everyone’s game.”
– Nichelle Nichols, former NASA Ambassador & Star Trek actress.

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Background & Expertise

Maryam’s field of expertise spans IoT, context-aware systems, Petri Nets, AI, nonlinear modelling & simulation, digital signal processing (DSP), knowledge-based expert systems and ontology. Professor Maryam acquired her Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic  Engineering from Tehran Central University in 1999. She moved to Russia soon after, where she attained a College Degree in Transitional Studies from Marhi University in 2000, followed by a Master’s Degree in 2003 and finally acquired a Ph. D. in 2006 specializing in Information Technology & Computer Science from the Bauman Moscow State Technical University. Maryam openly acknowledges the support and encouragement she received from her family from a very young age to follow her passion and achieve the highest potential. She recalls her supervisors’ and mentors’ guidance throughout her educational journey and strives to be an influential mentor to her students.

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Maryam is a successful researcher and a passionate professor. She is a Professor of Electronics at FAST with Humber College since 2016, and she brings with her extensive industrial and academic experience and research knowledge. Maryam boasts many accolades; to name a few, Maryam is the Chair of IEEE WIE Toronto Section and Vice-Chair of IEEE Toronto Section. She successfully secured the IEEE Toronto Section scholarship for Humber (one of the exclusive scholarship recipients). She was selected as an Honorable Mention for the 2018 WIE Inspiring Member of the Year Award by the IEEE WIE committee for her inspirational leadership and outstanding contributions. Maryam also received the Research Excellence Award at the 2020 President’s Awards at Humber College. She has had her work published in numerous journals covering: Cognitive Systems Research: Elsevier Journal, Cybernetics & Informatics: Journal of Systemics, and many others.

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Research & Applied Research

From theoretical research to research & development projects to applied research, Maryam Davoudpour is passionately driven by a desire to discover new technologies and stay ahead of emerging trends.

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She has been involved in research projects since her academic tenure and continued to participate in roles like R&D Lead at various projects; also as a member of the incubator DMZ (Digital Media Zone) at Ryerson University (since 2012). She also completed an NSERC Post-Doctoral Fellowship in partnership with Flybits Co. (2012 to 2017).

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Reflecting on her research journey, Maryam shares with us a particularly successful R&D Project: ‘CANthings’ (Context-Aware Network for the Design of Connected Things), resulting from a need for the development practices that are suitable for building relationships between ‘things’, ‘people’, ‘places’ and ‘data’. “We managed to recognize IoT needs by a unique solution called CANthings to research and build a sophisticated Design Framework for IoT eco-systems, for remote control and discovery of services exposed by CANthings-enabled devices”, informs Maryam; “to give you an example, in 2012 we purchased an ordinary coffee machine, created a unique algorithm based on the ontology of the sensors, incorporated micro-controllers, combined Petri Net knowledge, and created a language that could help communicate the availability of coffee or if it was freshly brewed. I had the chance to submit many papers on this topic which gained a lot of traction and even spoke about it during several conferences; in fact, BOSCH heavily invested in that project at the time.”

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Most recently, Maryam is a 2019 recipient of the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) Exploration Award and also hosted by St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation’s Angels Den (People’s Choice Award), which provides a new research opportunity for Humber to participate with one of the most demanding topics in health technology today: Research & Healthcare Innovation. She will be collaborating on this research alongside Adriana Leraci, a co-founder and innovator who works with emerging technologies such as smart textiles, AI and robotics, and Professor and Scientist of Computer Science at Ryerson University, Dr. Alireza Sadeghian, along with the principal investigator Dr. Jane Batt, Scientist, Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science, and Respirologist, St. Michael’s Hospital. Here is a very brief summary of this research project:

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Smart Garments: AI Therapy for Your Muscles

In Canada, 230,000 individuals are admitted annually to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) due to critical illness, and up to 50% will develop a condition known as ICU Acquired Weakness (ICUAW). The objective is to create novel smart textile garments (leg stockings and arm sleeves), enabling automated, sustained Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) therapy to prevent ICUAW. If solved, this challenge, requiring coordination of expertise from engineering, industrial design, physical therapy, and medicine, will enable an ICU therapist to easily and quickly apply, coordinate, and optimize individualized NMES therapy to all patients in the ICU, decreasing ICU mortality.

“She has demonstrated leadership in developing an effective applied research environment for students both in and outside the classroom, while closely working with her extensive professional network to bring new research opportunities to Humber,” says Dr. Shaun Ghafari, Associate Dean, Faculty of Applied Sciences and Technology, Humber College

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Maryam proudly prompts that despite the obstacles of the current pandemic, 2020 has been a successful year when it comes to ‘applied research’ at Humber, and she credits the Humber Research & Innovation team for their persistent pursuit in acquiring grants to enable faculty to conduct ground-breaking research with a larger goal of impacting real and powerful change. She goes on to thank Dr. Farzad Rayegani, Senior Dean, FAST, Dr. Shaun Ghafari, Associate Dean, FAST and Dr. Ginger Grant, Dean, Research & Innovation, for their invaluable support and encouragement. This is what Maryam had to say about her involvement with Humber’s research community:

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“Humber Research & Innovation is home to a cohort of intelligent, passionate, and energized researchers and research supporters.  Its collegiality and its interdisciplinary approach make it a remarkable environment to learn and participate actively. I am constantly inspired to discover new projects and success stories shared by R&I, with an impressive range of various new topics and applications, allowing researchers to stay abreast of emerging trends and technologies.”

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When we asked Maryam about her primary motive to join the Humber community, she aptly replied, “I wanted to get heavily involved with applied research and collaborate with industry partners to pursue real change. There was a talk about a new incubator: The Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation, and I knew I wanted to get involved.” We are enthusiastic and invigorated to have a Researcher Rockstar like Maryam Davoudpour, and we genuinely appreciate her contributions.

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Get to know Maryam a little better; here are 4 things you didn’t know about her, in her words:

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When I’m not at work, I am eager to get back to work. I love reading. I am a sports fan. I play the piano. I love to plant and grow my own herbs. I am passionate about discovery in all aspects of life.

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A favourite book: Brain Rules by John Medina.

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A website I visit most often Tech Radar, Google Scholar and the Bauman Moscow State Technical University website to keep current with new research and findings.

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Coffee or Tea: Herbal tea from homegrown herbs.

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Research is my life.” – Maryam Davoudpour.
“Students are thirsty and eager to learn and participate. All they need is encouragement.”