Meet a Data Scientist: Elie Alhajjar

12 December 2022

By Stella Min

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Elie Alhajjar who is a member of the CDN and CDN Steering Committee. During our conversation, Dr. Alhajjar explained how he leverages his knowledge of mathematics to bolster research on cybersecurity, biomedicine, and climate change. He also shared his secrets for productivity.

Background

Dr. Alhajjar earned his Bachelor's in Mathematics from Notre Dame University in Lebanon. He earned his PhD in Mathematics from George Mason University, where he studied polyhedral geometry, algebraic combinatorics, and lattice point enumeration under the supervision of Dr. James F. Lawrence. During his graduate studies, he was the recipient of several awards including the Presidential Scholarship, the Provost Fellowship, the Outstanding Achievement Award, and multiple national and international research grants.

Upon earning his graduate degree, Dr. Alhajjar eventually found his way into the field of data science, identifying clear parallels with his training in mathematics. He was particularly drawn to the field through projects that could have an immediate impact on society, in addition to research in theoretical mathematics.

Current Role

Dr. Alhajjar is a senior research scientist and associate professor in the Department of Mathematics at West Point, where he teaches mathematical courses to cadets representing all academic disciplines. He is also affiliated with the Intelligent Cyber-Systems and Analytics Research Library, where he applies machine learning and other methods to advance cyberinfrastructure for national security. While national security represents 70%-80% of his research, Dr. Alhajjar also pursues research questions related to computational biology and climate change. A typical project is completed within 3-6 months, spawning new research questions and fresh collaborations along the way. 

Outside of Work

In his free time, Dr. Alhajjar advocates for science policies like investing in improving access to quantitative training for the US labor force. Dr. Alhajjar also draws on his experience in higher ed to shape programming for ADSA’s Career Development Network as a member of the CDN Steering Committee. In addition to community building for the CDN, Dr. Alhajjar serves as a mentor to Division I student athletes, which is a natural fit given his passion for teaching and love of sports. Dr. Alhajjar confessed that he’s not much of a cook, but he loves to eat, particularly pizza, wings, and Middle Eastern dishes. 

If you are wondering how Dr. Alhajjar manages to achieve work-life balance, he said that the trick involves systematically prioritizing deadlines. 

How to connect:

Check out Dr. Alhajjar’s profile in the CDN Member Directory which shares links to his email address and website. Although he is not very active on the platform, you may also connect with Dr. Alhajjar on LinkedIn.

Looking for Other Blog Posts?

Check out the ADSA Community Blog!

Meet a Data Scientist Series

Check out our profile on Dr. Diya Das who is a data manager at Genentech.

Career Panel Series

Don't forget to check out our Career Panel Playlist and CDN Directory to learn more about other data scientists and their career paths. Join our Career Development Network to receive career-related resources and to connect with fellow data scientists.