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AFNLP Executive Committee Members-at-Large (MAL) Election (2017-2018)

Nominees of Candidates for MALs of AFNLP
31 July 2016
(Order by pronunciation of nominees’ names)

Lun-Wei Ku, Assistant Research Fellow

Institute of Information Sciences, Taipei
Nominator: Keh-Yih Su

Please refer to her homepage.

AFNLP is the biggest federation for Asian natural language processing groups, and also the most prestigious one. As the member of the AFNLP Member At Large, I would like to work towards securing the status of our conferences, workshops, special interest group activities as an important place for good research, and further towards fostering more interaction with research communities. More specifically, I will aim to the following goals: 

  1. Having a successful and prosperous AFNLP main coming conference IJCNLP 2017. As I am one of the organizing committee members of IJCNLP 2017, I will work on making IJCNLP run smoothly to accommodate the growth of the field.
  2. Strengthening connections in the community beyond the conference. This includes encouraging the regional meetings and activities, such as sharing the information of invited talks and visiting scholars, as well as the information of international activities, such as the calls from conferences and journals.
  3. Encouraging potential young researchers to join the community via AFNLP. We could start with promoting the study of language processing and providing information of job opportunities to support young researchers and ease their transition into a permanent job. In addition, we could encourage them to organize activities collocated with AFNLP activities for both students and researchers instead of creating one from zero. Offering peer-mentoring opportunities is also a possibility.

AFNLP should become a good backstage driving force to make Asian research more publicly recognized. I will work to make this happen.

Minghui Dong, Scientist, Lab Head

Institute for Infocomm Research, Singapore
Nominators: Haizhou Li, Min Zhang

Minghui Dong is currently a research scientist and the head of Voice Analysis and Synthesis Lab in Human Language Technology Department, Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), Singapore. He also serves as the vice-president of Chinese and Oriental Languages Information Processing Society (COLIPS) and the editor-in-chief of International Journal of Asian Language Processing (IJALP). He received BS degree from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), MS degree from Peking University (PKU), and PhD degree from National University of Singapore (NUS) in 1992, 1995 and 2004 respectively. From Jul 1995 to Jul 1998, he worked as a research engineer in Peking University. From Jul 2011 to Nov 2014, he worked as a researcher in Infotalk Technology (Singapore). He joined I2R in Dec 2004.

His research interests include spoken language processing, natural language processing, language resource building and machine learning methods for language processing. He has co-authored more than 80 research papers in leading conferences and journals. He has been actively contributing to Asian and international research communities by serving as different roles in various conferences, including IJCNLP, ACL, InterSpeech, PACLIC, ISCSLP, IALP, CLSW, ICCPOL, COLING, APSIPA, etc. He also served as officers in organizations including COLIPS, ISCA SIG-CSLP, and AFNLP. He has been overseeing the running of the IALP conference series and IJALP journal, which promote the interactions between researchers working on the processing of low-resourced languages. Over the past 8 years, he has also been running the AFNLP webserver, taking care of the communication with AFNLP members by distributing messages, newsletters, etc.

Over the past 8 years, I have been working for AFNLP on running the webserver, sending out notice and newsletters, communicating with board members and researchers, organizing events, etc. It is a great pleasure to work with all the colleagues and to see the progress of AFNLP. I would be happy to contribute on the following aspects if elected:

  1. Promoting the interaction between researchers working on natural language processing and those working on spoken language processing. I have been working on spoken language processing and natural language processing, and realized that there is a great need for researchers in both domains to comple ment each other. There is a need to adopt more achievements in computational linguistic into spoken language processing. Also, there is a need to convert the spoken corpus into written form to enrich the language resources for various natural language processing tasks. I am happy to promote the collaborations on the topics.
  2. Promoting the research of low resource languages. Being working in Singapore, and serving as organizer of many international conferences and workshops, I have had rich experience interacting with researchers working on Southeast Asian languages. Due to the limited resource, some of the languages have not been well studied. The need of the research is increasing with the development of the region. AFNLP can help with to the development of the research on those languages, and I am happy to contribute.
  3. Enhancement of the platform for comminuting with AFNLP members. The existing website has been running for more than 8 years. There is a need to revamp it to better serve the members. I would like to propose to add the following new features for each communications with members: (1) Smartphone support. It should work nicely on smartphone so that members can check the website on the go. (2) Easy update of website by EXCO members. It should allow EXCO members to update the website directly so that the messages can be updated without delay. (3) Synergy with existing social network applications. Most of the users are using social network apps, such as facebook, linkedin, wechat, etc. We shall try to allow messages sent to members to their preferred platform, and allow members to interact easily. I am able to contribute on it.

Naoaki Okazaki

Tohoku University, Japan
Nominator: Junichi Tsujii

Dr. Naoaki Okazaki is an associate professor at Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University. Prior to his faculty position, he worked as a research fellow in National Centre for Text Mining (NaCTeM) (in 2005) and as a post-doctoral researcher in University of Tokyo (in 2007-2011). He obtained his PhD from Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, University of Tokyo in 2007. He has served as a technical consultant in SmartNews Inc. since 2013. He is also a visiting research scholar of the Artificial Intelligence Research Center (AIRC), National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). His research interests include natural language processing, text mining, and machine learning. He is also known as a developer open-source software toolkits including: CRFSuite (a fast implementation of Conditional Random Fields), SimString (an implementation for approximate string matching), and libLBFGS (a C library of L-BFGS).
His research is highly regarded nationally and internationally. Dr. Naoaki Okazaki has published more than 90 refereed papers in journals and conference proceedings including ACL, NAACL, EMNLP, COLING, IJCNLP, and AAAI. He is a recipient of various awards: the Young Scientists' Prize, the Commendation for Science and Technology by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT); Funai Research Award; Docomo Mobile Science Award; and several Best Paper Awards at PACLIC 29 and domestic NLP conferences in Japan. In addition, he has contributed prominently to the academic and scientific community. He has served as area chairs (ACL 2012 and 2016), workshop co-chairs (IJCNLP 2013), and publication chair (EMNLP-CoNLL 2012). He joined numerous program committees for international conferences including AAAI, IJCAI, ACL, NAACL, EMNLP, EACL, and COLING. He has also been in the TACL elite standing reviewing pool.
Web site:


AFNLP is a great association that has promoted and enhanced NLP research and development not only for the Asian region but for worldwide. It would be a great honor to be considered for membership on the Members-at-Large of the Board of AFNLP.

It is difficult to know the exact role of the Members-at-Large before serving, but I have three goals if elected to the Members-at-Large:

  1. Continue and expand the excellent missions and achievements of AFNLP.
  2. Enhance activities of young researchers in Asian countries. Here, I do not mean to distinguish researchers for their ages. At the same time, the young generation is important as they will eventually lead the NLP community in future. Nowadays, we have numerous international conferences to present and enhance our activities. We do have opportunities for mentoring students and promoting interactions between students, for example, Student Research Workshop (SRW) and Student Lunch at ACL. However, we should provide more opportunities for students and post-doc researchers so that they know each other well. With this motivation, I would like to collect opinions from young researchers and present them to the Board of AFNLP. In addition, I am interested in setting up a new venue that is not a part of an existing conference but specially designed for and by young researchers. The new venue will be not only for presenting and discussing their studies but also for stimulating new ideas, encouraging networking, and promoting their collaborations. It will also provide opportunities for connecting young researchers and universities/companies worldwide.
  3. Develop better training programs for doing NLP research and work. More specifically, I would like to explore various ways for teaching programming skills and research/development practices for new students and engineers in universities and companies. Having received a fair amount of attention from the industry, our community suffers from the shortage of researchers and engineers who are familiar with the NLP methodology. It is thus important to increase the number of talented researchers and engineers for the future of each country and NLP. I believe that programming skills and research practices are universal to any research topics, commercial projects, and natural languages. However, training courses nor materials for these skills and practices are rarely shared by different universities and companies, unlike the theory (shared by textbooks) and research findings (shared by papers). For this reason, each university or company might have been replicating the similar effort for preparing training courses. With this motivation, I am interested in providing a new venue for exchanging and sharing knowledge and materials about how to foster good skills and practices of NLP researchers.

I appreciate your consideration, and hope to work actively for the future of AFNLP.

Ruifeng Xu, Associate professor

Harbin Institute of Technology, Shenzhen, China
Nominator: Kam-Fai Wong

Dr. Ruifeng Xu received his B. Eng. degree Harbin Institute of Technology(HIT), 1995; and M. Phil. and Ph.D. degree from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 2001 and 2006, respectively. He took up postdoc research positions  in The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and City University of Hong Kong from 2006 to 2009. He is Associate Professor and doctoral supervisor, in HIT, Shenzhen Graduate School. He is Secretary-General of Youth Work Committee, Chinese Association for Artificial Intelligence (CAAI); Vice Secretary-General, Chinese Information Technology Committee, China Computer Federation (CCF); Potential Program Committee member, Special Interest Group on Natural Language Processing for Social Media (SIG-SocialNLP), AFNLP; Academic Member of Social Computing Committee, China Information Processing Society (CIPS) and Associate Director, Shenzhen Engineering Laboratory of Performance Robots at Digital Stage. He served as PC-chair of International Workshop on Web Information Processing (2011-2014), Publication Chair of ICCPOL, Publicity Chair of SMP/NLPCC-ICCPOL, and PC members of ACL/COLING/EMNLP/CIKM. His research areas include Natural Language Processing, Text-based Knowledge Discovery and Web Information Processing. He has published one book and over 100 refereed papers including regular publication in ACL, CIKM, EMNLP, IJCAI and NCTIR. He was awarded Grand Prize in National Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Congress by CAAI (2015), Best Youth Science and Technology Award by CAAI (2013) and Best Cooperation Award, Hong Kong Information and Communication Technology Award (2013).

AFNLP is a resourceful organization which actively promotes the Asian NLP community globally. I would be honored to serve the AFNLP Executive Committee as Member-At-Large. In my opinion, members of AFNLP Executive Committee are volunteers with missions to ensure  smooth operation of AFNLP , attract more Asia researchers to the field of NLP, and establish global connection in Asian NLP communities. To this end, I would be glad to make all my effort to expand the influence of AFNLP in China. More specifically:

  1. Through my roles in different professional societies in China,  one of my main tasks  is to foster more interactions between the Chinese AI and NLP research communities. Extending that, as AFNLP Member-At-Large, I would establish more cooperations between AFNLP and CCF, China Information Processing Society (CIPS) and Chinese Association for Artificial Intelligence (CAAI) including organization of academic visits, forums and conferences. I would ensure the sharing of research materials presented in local conferences/forums be shared with the AFNLP community.
  2. To ensure effective communication between AFNLP and her Chinese members.  I would establish AFNLP presence on China social media platforms.I would register and maintain the AFNLP public service accounts on Weibo and WeChat platforms and use them to effectively and consistently promote conferences, events and relevant news related to AFNLP.
  3. To improve physical presence of AFNLP in China. I would help organize local activities in China such as Summer schools, workshops on spececial topics, etc. Also, bidding to host IJCNLP2019 would be one of my targets as AFNLP MAL.

Seung-Hoon Na, Assistant professor

Chonbuk National University, Korea
Nominator: Key-Sun Choi

Please refer to his homepage.

AFNLP is a great association with the mission of promoting the NLP research and research co-operation in Asia-Pacific region. It would be a great honor to be able to support its mission as a MAL of AFNLP, as a NLP researcher in the region. 

If elected, first, I would surely be charged with helping to promote NLP researches in our region and to increase research co-operation among the researchers, adhering to the missions of AFNLP. Second, given the situation that many Asian languages still have a limited number of resources and their sizes are small, I would like to contribute to extend linguistic resources in such low-resource languages and to make them publicly and readily available to the region researchers. Here, the goal is to make the full standard set of linguistic resources/corpora for the "main" NLP tasks available for most Asian languages -- which include speech recognition, word segmentation (or morpheme segmentation), POS tagging, parsing (PSG parsing and dependency parsing), semantic role labeling, WSD, named entity recognition, co-reference resolution, sentiment analysis, entity detection & linking, large-scale parallel corpus for MT, and so on. Third, as it becomes increasingly important that a research outcome in NLP needs to be readily replicated by other researchers, I would work towards encouraging to make research outcomes as open sources such that recently developed NLP methods for processing Asian languages are publically available and can be shared by other researchers in the region. 

Thank you very much for nominating me as a candidate MAL of AFNLP.

Vasudeva Varma, Professor and Dean (Research)

IIIT Hyderabad, INDIA
Home Page:
Nominated by: Pushpak Bhattacharya

Please see

I have been working in the areas of NLP, Text Mining, Information Retrieval, Information Extraction and Summarization for the past 25 years and have contributed more than 200 publications. But, what is more exciting for me is building systems and creating technologies that can change the lives of several people. I am fortunate to transform some of my research into products and services. I am excited about translational research.  Some of the unique perspectives I can bring to the table are:

  • India, which is linguistically diverse and rich, has been a playground for experimenting with multiple languages, across languages, and several multi-lingual issues. I am fortunate to have worked with several Indian languages and understand the nuances that helped me build better systems that are scalable. I would like to strengthen the understanding of modern Indian language usage (such as code-mixed data and social media data).
  • As a big fan of translational research, I would like to work towards creating an ecosystem where academics, students, industry research labs, start-up companies and governments work together and know each other’s capabilities and limitations. I have been involved in such ecosystem building in Hyderabad for the past 5-6 years
  • Annotated data creation is an important activity that should be taken up very seriously and at scale for low resource languages and in specific domains. I am involved in multi-modal annotation of data that can help modern Machine Learning techniques (e.g. deep learning) employed for processing of language, speech and visual data.
  • Empowering start-ups with deep technology and resources is my passion. I mentor several start-ups in the areas of NLP to solve very specific problems in domains that have commercial viability.

I think I can serve the AFNLP community at large with my experience and exposure. Thank you for nominating for MAL of AFNLP.

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Updated on September 2, 2016