Associate professor brings expertise in big data, machine learning, computer vision, and remote sensing—with a focus on climate change concerns and disaster resiliency—to CSE and CEE departments

Associate professor Maryam Rahnemoonfar, a leader in “data science for sustainability,” joined the faculty of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, with a joint appointment in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, on August 15, 2022.  

Rahnemoonfar is an expert in data science, machine learning, computer vision, and remote sensing. She comes to Lehigh from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where she was an associate professor in the College of Engineering and Information Technology. 

Her computer vision and remote sensing research group, the Bina Lab, focuses on the development of advanced computer vision and machine learning algorithms for multidimensional signals collected from heterogeneous sensors. Data from these sensors enable real-time decision-making around climate change and environmental problems, natural disasters, and other concerns. 

Rahnemoonfar recently led an interdisciplinary team at UMBC in a project under the National Science Foundation’s Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) Big Idea program. The project, Institute for Harnessing Data and Model Revolution in the Polar Regions, or iHARP, is one of only five HDR institutes in the nation and the first dedicated to research in polar regions, climate change, and sea-level rise. 

The project grew out of efforts funded by an earlier grant from the NSF’s BIGDATA program to develop hybrid techniques and new methodologies for data-driven decision-making capabilities in the contest of complex engineering systems. 

“Given the severity of environmental issues such as the accelerating melting of polar ice sheets, frequent and severe natural disasters, and the degradation and loss of seagrass blue carbon, fast analysis of big data is vital,” says Rahnemoonfar. To deal with the challenges of data collected in these areas, which is often noisy, unlabeled, and heterogeneous, she says, requires “integrating knowledge, methodologies, and expertise from different disciplines.”

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Rahnemoonfar to enhance the interdisciplinary nature of our department,” says Shamim Pakzad, professor and chair of Lehigh’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.”Her research and expertise in machine learning and applications of data sciences in engineering systems are very relevant to current work by Lehigh CEE faculty and represent directions of expansion. She will complement our long tradition of strength in research on infrastructure and the environment, while adding some unique educational opportunities for our students in data analytics and artificial intelligence.”

To date, Rahnemoonfar has more than 60 peer-reviewed publications and has secured total research funding exceeding $36 million. She has supervised multiple postdocs and graduate students and is engaged in outreach through Women in Machine Learning and Data Science (WiMLDS) and Women in Data Science (WiDS).

She holds a PhD in computer science from the University of Salford (UK), as well as degrees in remote sensing engineering (M.Sc., University of Tehran) and civil engineering (B.Sc., University of Isfahan). 

Maryam Rahnemoonfar

Data science expert Maryam Rahnemoonfar has joined the Rossin College faculty as an associate professor in the departments of Computer Science and Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering.