Project Title

Semantic Scholar Assistant


Jianguo Lu and Ziad Kobti, University of Windsor

Industry partner

Meta Inc.

Supported by

SOSCIP, IBM Canada Ltd.

Digital Media

A professor with the University of Windsor is working on a collaborative SOSCIP research project that will have the potential to bring about scientific and medical discoveries much sooner.

Jianguo Lu, a professor with the department of computer science, is collaborating with Meta, a Toronto-based company that applies artificial intelligence to curate the world’s scientific and technical information.

Prof. Lu is building a tool called a semantic scholar assistant, which will enhance the user experience for researchers and provide them with access to a vault of millions of academic papers.

“The semantic scholar assistant is a modern search engine to help researchers find relevant information and knowledge,” explained Prof. Lu. 

Prof. Lu says that researchers are currently limited to syntactic-based or keyword-based search engines but the semantic scholar assistant is designed to go beyond that to provide a tailored experience unique to the researcher’s focus area.

“The semantic scholar assistant is not just a search engine, it will read and understand your requirements and make recommendations. It will understand researchers’ personal interests and tap into their academic social networks,” he explained.

Working with a team that includes Prof. Ziad Kobti, also at the University of Windsor, as well as three PhD students, Prof. Lu explains the experience is meaningful and important in developing useful data mining techniques that can further drive innovation.

“SOSCIP has been helpful in that they have provided lots of resources. We have millions of academic papers to process and they are able to connect us with experts to develop very complicated algorithms that can process massive amounts of data,” said Prof. Lu, who is currently accessing the Cloud Analytics platform.

Industry partner Meta has caught the eye of others, including founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and his wife, Priscilla Chan. 

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which is dedicated to advancing human potential and promoting equal opportunity with a focus on scientific research, education and strong communities, announced on Jan. 24, 2017, that it was acquiring Meta. The Initiative’s goal is to “cure, prevent, or manage all diseases by the end of this century.”

This is the second SOSCIP research project to involve industry partner, Meta. Meta was introduced to SOSCIP in 2014 through a collaborative research project with Prof. Kelly Lyons, University of Toronto.

“The opportunity to work with them [Meta] was amazing,” explained Prof. Lyons. Since the initial project, members of her team have gone on to advance their careers in research and industry.

“As a researcher, it’s getting increasingly more difficult to access the right information when you need it,” said Prof. Lyons, adding: “It’s lovely to see all of their hard work and tremendous innovation recognized.”

For both Profs. Lu and Lyons, the project is rewarding in the potential impact it could have in furthering advances in the field of medicine and science.