Assistant professor awarded German Academic Exchange Service Faculty Fellowship

Published: Apr 19, 2024 11:00 AM

By Joe McAdory

Santu Karmaker, assistant professor in computer science and software engineering (CSSE), received the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Faculty Fellowship, “Research Stays for University Academics and Scientists,” where he will spend three months this summer exchanging ideas with peer faculty members and researchers at the Technical University Daormstadt.

Beginning May 15, Karmaker will build collaboration relationships, take a deeper dive into existing research of Document-Linking and Multi-Perspective Summarization and exchange his growing knowledge of natural language processing (NLP).

“We are extremely proud of Dr. Karmaker, the research he has done at Auburn and its recognition by DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service. This fellowship will allow him to further his research, build new collaborations in Germany, and represent CSSE, Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and Auburn University on an international stage,” said Hari Narayanan, Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering chair.

DAAD Faculty Fellowship acceptance rates have fluctuated around 12% in recent years.  

Karmaker, a special guest on the popular computer science podcast “Agile Giants” earlier this winter, is eager to study with Professor Iryna Gurevych’s Ubiquitous Knowledge Processing Lab at the Technical University Daormstadt, one of Germany’s premier engineering-focused institutions.

“Germany is one of the pioneers in NLP and machine learning research and Dr. Gurevych is one of the most reputable scholars,” Karmaker said. “There, the research is going to be focused on how do you connect multiple documents coming from different sources? The question is if you have two documents, how can you connect them meaningfully and in what way? That's difficult to do with computers and still a open research problem, however, my previous research has made some progress as part of my multi perspective narrative understanding research.”

Karmaker was awarded a $542,485 grant in 2023 from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for his study, “A Novel Human-AI Collaborative Framework for Multi-Perspective Narrative Analytics and Braiding at Scale.” He hopes to build upon the preliminary results of that study in Germany.

“One thing that I will be able to do there that I didn’t do here is I will examine multi-lingual problems using not only documents in English, but I will look at documents in multiple languages, especially German,” said Karmaker, recipient of the 2024 100+ Women Strong Leadership in Diversity Faculty Award. “I'll also be working with researchers who can validate our approach in multiple languages.”

Karmaker noted his trip to Germany wasn’t just about research.

“It's also about making connections among researchers,” he said. “We know that if you are going to work on a completely new research problem, three months is not enough time to establish precisely what you want to work on. However, three months is enough time to foster collaboration for ambitious future research projects in the long term and make some progress on existing ones.”

He plans to visit nearby German universities, offer presentations and continue to make connections within the academic community.

Karmaker, who joined Auburn Engineering’s faculty in 2020, noted that his doctoral work — data mining and information retrieval — was no longer his major focus after he joined Auburn and started working independently.

Rather, NLP caught his attention.

“Nobody knew me in that arena,” he said. “My first year on faculty, I continued to learn all I could about NLP and by 2021 I taught my students how to do it. By 2022, we got some high-quality research publications that made some and got some attention.”

Last year, his Air Force grant — coupled with a $700,000 National Science Foundation grant for “An Intelligent Assistant to Support Teachers and Students in Simulation-Based Science Learning” — earned a combined $1.25 million in research funding in one semester.

“This has been my four-year NLP journey,” he said. “But I wanted to take it further across U.S. and in international settings, making connections, making more people aware of this research and increasing Auburn’s reputation and footprint.”

Beginning this May, he has an opportunity.

Media Contact: Joe McAdory,, 334.844.3447
Santu Karmaker will spend three months with peer researchers at the Technical University Daormstadt.

Santu Karmaker will spend three months with peer researchers at the Technical University Daormstadt.

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