Our Team

The AI Hub has assembled a team of experienced academics and practitioners to lead its applied research efforts.  The diversity of fields of expertise reflects the reality of artificial intelligence deployments – it takes a team to plan and execute successful AI projects.

The primary research team reports to the Dean and is supported by an advisory board, and oversees a large body of research associates who are hired from within Durham College’s student body.

Principal Investigators

Abhilash Marecharla works as a Principal Investigator in the AI Hub. As an experienced research lead working on projects related to Machine Learning (ML), Deep Learning (DL), and Natural Language Processing (NLP), he has worked with students from different backgrounds on a variety of problems in various domains, including finance, telecom, cybersecurity, agriculture, education, human resources, health, and logistics. He is interested in building systems that make a difference in human life. With a Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering and certifications in IT Infrastructure Library – ITIL and International Software Testing Quality Board (ISTQB), he previously worked more than a decade in the IT industry.

E: Abhilash.Marecharla@durhamcollege.ca

Saba Siddiqi

Saba Siddiqi has been working at the AI Hub as a Principal Investigator for two and a half years. She completed her Bachelors degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, followed by her Masters degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo, with a specialization in Artificial Intelligence. Saba’s research interests include exploring Machine Learning models to solve real-world problems. At the AI Hub, she leads and manages research teams to help SMEs plan and implement AI solutions to help their businesses grow. Alongside her teams, Saba has delivered several successful projects to help real estate, healthcare, education, and security sectors with AI solutions, including web applications, mobile applications and REST APIs.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/saba-siddiqi-77428071/

Sam Plati has a BBM, a BEd and a MSc.Ed, and brings deep experience in the areas of Telecommunications, Transportation, and SaaS implementations. His has specialist level knowledge in Clustering-Algorithms, Natural Language Processing (NLP), modelling and forecasting and business usage behaviour; Cross-Tabulation Analysis to identify key trends and drivers in product features, pricing, and adoption. His research focuses on data cleansing, mining and analysis and he serves in an advisory capacity to all projects on big data, cluster-based data analytics and use of AI in marketing solutions.

E: Sam.Plati@durhamcollege.ca
T: 905.721.2000 ext. 6149
Twitter: @ProfSamDC

Steve Bakos

Steve Bakos is a Principal Investigator with the AI Hub, having graduated from DC’s Computer Programmer Analyst program and currently completing his Computer Science degree at Ontario Tech University. With over three years of experience at the AI Hub, he has worked on projects in the real estate, parking, energy, culinary, health, and insurance domains. He has addressed clients’ challenges by creating models in time-series forecasting, Natural Language Processing (NLP), classification, and clustering to meet their unique needs. Starting with an idea and ending with a finished product, he brings expertise with all stages of the machine learning (ML) pipeline to his projects.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/steve-bakos-0005363a/

Research Administrators

Dr. Mohamed Saad, Project Manager for the AI Hub, is a Computer Science and Information Technology leader with over 20 years of experience with proven success in developing and delivering enterprise solutions for healthcare, logistics, GIS systems and eCommerce. His vast experience includes developing cloud-based software solutions and a suite of applications [National site, CMS, OMS, PIM, CRM, Web-Based-POS] that scaled nationwide in Canada, serving millions of customers.  As a trusted advisor and leader, Dr. Saad is adept at driving strategic methods and technology optimization through dynamic leadership, cross-functional engagement, proactive planning and effective execution.

E: Mohamed.saad@durhamcollege.ca
T: 905.926.1580

Ali Hirji has over 12 years of experience working on a variety of technology implementations in the government, academic and not for profit sectors. With a specific interest in broadband communications, Ali has held senior roles in projects to enable remote connectivity, implement technical trainings, bolster cyber security frameworks and enhance access to mission critical applications. He has also taken a lead role in securing funding for over 15 related projects and established numerous public private partnerships.   Ali is completing his PhD in communications and holds multiple research and teaching positions.

E: Ali.Hirji@durhamcollege.ca
T: (905)721-2000 x6407
Twitter: @abbaspeaks

Isabella Blandisi-Van Hee

Isabella Blandisi-Van Hee is the Operations Manager for Applied Research in the Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE). She has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Criminology, Justice, and Policy Studies as well as a Master of Arts (Criminology), both from Ontario Tech University respectively. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals including, The Qualitative Report and The Albany Law Review.  At ORSIE, she ensures that the applied research department is compliant with DC and external funder policies as it relates to project management and documentation. She also works on a variety of projects across Autonomous Vehicle Applied Research, the AI Hub, the Centre for Cybersecurity Innovation, the MRC Studio, and the Centre for Craft Brewing Innovation.

E: Isabella.blandisi-vanhee@durhamcollege.ca
T: 905.721.2000 ext. 6550

Vibha Tyagi is the Manager, Applied Research Partnerships for the Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She provides expertise in the development of collaborative applied research projects through diagnostic assessments, market research, proposal writing and project management.  Vibha has managed several applied research projects including some of the first AI for business solutions projects at DC.

E: Vibha.tyagi@durhamcollege.ca
T: 905.721.2000 ext. 2867
Twitter: @tyagivibha