Phone: (352) 294-5932
Clinical and Translational Research Building
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PO Box 100219
Gainesville, FL 32610-0219
- Ph.D., Philosophy, State University of New York at Buffalo
- M.A., Philosophy, State University of New York at Buffalo
- B.A., Philosophy, Summa Cum Laude, University of Colorado at Denver
While humans are good at recognizing meaning in context, computers need help. Amanda Hicks, Ph.D., develops and evaluates the resources that computers utilize to understand the relationships among words, concepts and categories. In this capacity she serves as a kind of translator between humans and machines. These models, called “semantic networks”, can support machine reasoning with language, data and text. Dr. Hicks is particularly interested in bridging the gap between two approaches to producing semantic networks. The first approach focuses on capturing the way we use language in our everyday lives. This is the approach taken by WordNet, a digital lexicon which is used in Siri, IBM’s Watson and other AI platforms to process language. The second approach focuses on providing computers with schemas that support sound, logical inferences about the things in the world, but with less emphasis on the words we use to describe those things. This is the approach taken by the discipline of ontology. Ontologies are formal, logical representations of things in the world that computers use to make inferences. She developed the KYOTO Ontology, which has been mapped to eight languages, to help bridge these two approaches.
She is the curator and manager of the Ontology for Medically Related Social Entities (OMRSE), which represents socially constructed entities that are important for health care. Examples of these entities include the role of a doctor as distinct from a nurse; organizations such as insurance companies and health care providers; contracts; and demographic information, including race, ethnicity, and gender. She is currently developing culturally competent ways of capturing and representing gender identities that go beyond the male/female binary to help reduce health disparities among gender minorities and increase visibility and understanding of gender minorities in the health care and research settings.
She is also interested in developing tools and methods for evaluating the performance of ontologies in health informatics. She has co-authored works that leverage Twitter and Google for the development and evaluation of these systematic categories, such as examining regional variation in gender identities across the U.S. with the aim of informing health care intake forms for non-gender-binary individuals.
Dr. Hicks has co-taught international workshops in applied ontology and is actively involved in developing educational resources and opportunities in applied ontology.
- Biomedical Informatics
- Applied ontology
- Ontologically representing socially constructed entities
- Gender identity terms as related to LGBT health and medical terminologies
- Applied logic