SoAS Research Seminar Series: Coronavirus and Fake News

Online via Webex

The School of Arts and Sciences at LAU is launching its Research Seminar Series that aims to engage students, faculty and the public in the research that the school’s diverse scholars are conducting.

The first seminar under the theme of Coronavirus and Fake News will feature Associate Professor of Computer Science Azzam Mourad who will discuss the Critical Impact of Social Networks Infodemic on Defeating COVID-19 Pandemic, and Associate Professor of Bioinformatics Georges Khazen who will present on Sars-CoV-2 Global Testing and Genomic Variability.

Click here to join the seminar. Kindly join up to 10 minutes before the start time.


Dr. Azzam Mourad is leading several research projects and has published more than 85 research papers in international peer-reviewed books, journals and conferences on Security Modeling and Resource Management in Emerging Technologies such as Cloud Computing, Fog Computing, Edge Computing, Internet of Things and Federated Learning, Cybersecurity, Mobile and Wireless Network Security, VANET, and Semantics-Based Security Analysis.

Dr. Georges Khazen has a multidisciplinary background with more than 10 years of experience in high-throughput data analysis. His main research lies in the fields of computational genomics and statistical machine learning with applications to the medical and health sciences. His is currently working with his team on analyzing of the COVID-19 outbreak by gathering global testing data and exploring the variability of the SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences.


Critical Impact of Social Networks Infodemic on Defeating COVID-19 Pandemic: News creation and consumption has been changing since the advent of social media. An estimated 2.95 billion people in 2019 used social media worldwide. The widespread of the Coronavirus COVID-19 resulted with a tsunami of social media. Most platforms were used to transmit relevant news, guidelines and precautions to people. According to WHO, uncontrolled conspiracy theories and propaganda are spreading faster than the COVID-19 pandemic itself, creating an infodemic and thus causing psychological panic, misleading medical advises, and economic disruption. This seminar presents a large-scale study based on data mined from Twitter. The study noted various interesting conclusions including the critical impact of the (1) exploitation of the COVID-19 crisis to redirect readers to irrelevant topics and (2) widespread of unauthentic medical precautions and information.

Sars-CoV-2 Global Testing and Genomic Variability: The COVID-19 pandemic started in December 2019 and a lot of effort has focused on tracking the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, there is neither a single comprehensive resource with global historical testing data nor a centralized database with all identified genomic variants. We merged different COVID-19 testing datasets and manually extracted missing data from governmental sources. Our dataset includes 2518 historical test statistics from 76 countries/states unreported in any other dataset, making our dataset the most comprehensive to date. We also analyzed all publicly deposited SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences and annotated their variants.