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Afeyan Foundation Support Promotes Research at AUA 

3 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia — The American University of Armenia (AUA) expresses gratitude to the Afeyan Foundation for its support of the University and its research activities: efforts that will make a positive impact on Armenian research and development. As a result of a generous donation made by the Foundation, AUA is pleased to announce the recipients of a one-year research grant. 

The supported projects are in the disciplines of economics, law, and medicine, which have been deemed priorities for the development of Armenia. AUA will continue to support faculty research through internal seed funding for the continuation of these projects beyond the first year, as well as to promote similar research among other faculty members.

With extensive backgrounds in the life sciences, engineering and education, numerous highly successful entrepreneurial ventures — notably Flagship Pioneering and Moderna, Inc. — and significant accomplishments in the non-profit sector through the Afeyan Foundation and the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, the Afeyan family is immersed in several philanthropic endeavors in Armenia, the United States, and elsewhere. 

This generous gift to AUA will foster multidisciplinary research and collaboration within the University, which is on its path to grow, and make a greater impact in Armenia. “The research activities will allow students to tackle complex challenges more efficiently by enabling closer collaboration, knowledge sharing, creative problem solving, and systems thinking. We hope to support the development of the next generation of leaders, scientists, and well-rounded citizens who could contribute to Armenia’s growth,” said the Afeyans in a recent statement.

The Afeyans’ support also highlights the importance of investing in Armenia’s human capital and the critical requirement for the country’s workforce to be equipped with the skills necessary to be productive in the digital age. They add: “This is even more important for Armenia, as its growth potential lies in its people and their ability to be creative, agile, and open-minded. AUA can play a unique role in adapting education for the digital age by emphasizing interdisciplinary collaboration, teaching foundational learning skills enhanced through technology, and creating opportunities to master not only technical skills, but also soft skills needed to navigate future uncertainty.”

The research awards were announced on July 18, 2023, with immediate start dates. They are expected to be conducted during the academic year 2023-24, with each principal investigator delivering a mid-year status report as well as a final report upon completion of the project by August 30, 2024.

The three recipients of the Afeyan Research Grant are Manoogian Simone College of Business and Economics Associate Professor Dr. Vardan Baghdasaryan, Zaven P. and Sonia Akian College of Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Dr. Varduhi Yeghiazaryan, and College of Humanities and Social Sciences lecturer Siranush Sahakyan.

Dr. Baghdasaryan’s team seeks to demonstrate that recent advances in natural language processing (NLP) and how the ability to analyze textual data can significantly improve the understanding of taxpayers’ operations and business and contribute to the task of tax fraud identification.

Dr. Yeghiazaryan’s team aims to design and implement a graphics-processing-unit-accelerated, deep-learning-based procedure for fully automated parallel segmentation and pixel-level classification of hyper-spectral images of atrial tissue undergoing radio-frequency ablation procedure, incorporating spatio-spectral information from the original image and segmentation output.

Sahakyan’s team will study the court decisions of the Anti-Corruption Court of Armenia in corruption cases (both criminal and civil), proposing adequate and feasible measures to address identified problems through implementation of evidence-based policy in the justice sector.

Each research project will be spotlighted in greater detail in forthcoming articles.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values. AUA’s Office of Development stewards the University’s philanthropic efforts exclusively for educational purposes.