Keynote: Deborah L. McGuinness



Current Positions

Tetherless World Senior Constellation Chair
Professor of Computer, Cognitive, and Web Sciences
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Title: Ontologies for the Modern Age

Ontologies are seeing a resurgence of interest and usage as big data proliferates, machine learning advances, and integration of data becomes more paramount. The previous models of sometimes labor-intensive, centralized ontology construction and maintenance do not mesh well in today’s interdisciplinary world that is in the midst of a big data, information extraction, and machine learning explosion. In this talk, we will provide some historical perspective on ontologies and their usage, and discuss a model of building and maintaining large collaborative, interdisciplinary ontologies along with the data repositories and data services that they empower. We will give a few examples of heterogeneous semantic data resources made more interconnected and more powerful by ontology-supported infrastructures, discuss a vision for ontology-enabled future research and provide some examples in a large health empowerment joint effort between RPI and IBM Watson Health.


Deborah McGuinness is the Tetherless World Senior Constellation Chair and Professor of Computer, Cognitive, and Web Sciences at RPI. She is also the founding director of the Web Science Research Center. Deborah has been recognized with awards as a fellow of the AAAS for contributions to the Semantic Web, knowledge representation, and reasoning environments and as the recipient of the Robert Engelmore award from AAAI for leadership in Semantic Web research and in bridging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and eScience, significant contributions to deployed AI applications, and extensive service to the AI community. Deborah currently leads a number of large diverse data intensive resource efforts and her team is creating next generation ontology-enabled research infrastructure for work in large interdisciplinary settings. Prior to joining RPI, Deborah was the acting director of the Knowledge Systems, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Senior Research Scientist in the Computer Science Department of Stanford University, and previous to that she was at AT&T Bell Laboratories. Deborah also has consulted with numerous large corporations as well as emerging startup companies wishing to plan, develop, deploy, and maintain semantic web and/or AI applications. Some areas of recent work include: data science, next generation health advisors, ontology design and evolution environments, semantically-enabled virtual observatories, semantic integration of scientific data, context-aware mobile applications, search, eCommerce, configuration, and supply chain management. Deborah holds a Bachelor of Math and Computer Science from Duke University, her Master of Computer Science from University of California at Berkeley, and her Ph.D. in Computer Science from Rutgers University.