Short bio & research interests

Currently I am an assistant professor at the Internet Technology and Data Science Lab (IDLab), Ghent University - imec, Belgium. I'm co-leading the Text-to-Knowledge research cluster with prof. Chris Develder, where we work on natural language processing in general, with focus on information extraction for applications in the media and medical domain. Some of our recent work includes multi-task information extraction on the document level, and augmenting clinical predition models with text-based features.

Besides sequence modeling with neural networks, I'm particularly interested in combining knowledge and neural network models. During a research visit in 2016 at UCL NLP lab at the University College London, I worked on injecting first-order logic into neural link prediction models. Together with the DTAI research group at KULeuven, I have been working on the combination of neural networks and probabilistic logic programs. These research topics fit in my general interest in neuro-symbolic AI, and in particular to create neural networks based models with an innate ability to reason.

Since I'm interested in AI in general, I'm having fun with a couple of side tracks. In combining my deep learning experience with my electrical engineering background, I worked on system identification from unequally spaced time series. Some new work is coming up on time series in the clinical domain, using techniques from complexity science. Also in the clinical domain, we came across some consistent misuse of data augmentation techniques, and tried to explain the issues to the medical AI community in this work. Recently, I've been developing ideas for a new flavour of neural networks where both the model interpretability and reasoning capabilities lay in between those of standard neural networks and symbolic reasoning frameworks.

In 2005, I received my M.Sc. degree in electrical engineering at Ghent University, after finishing my final year and master thesis at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, where I worked as a student assistent. In 2009, funded by a grant from the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO), I obtained my Ph.D. at the Ghent University Department of Information Technology, under the supervision of prof. Daniel De Zutter, in the area of computational electromagnetics. Shortly afterwards, I got involved in research on Information Retrieval, in collaboration with the Database Group at the University of Twente in The Netherlands. From there my interests moved to Natural Language Processing, machine learning, and AI in general. In October 2019 I was appointed assistant professor at IDLab, Ghent University.