School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

The digital doctor is in – Meet Ftoon Kedwan

PhD candidate in the School of Computing  

by Phil Gaudreau, April 2020

Amy Cleaver

Growing up, Ftoon Kedwan wanted to work in medicine. Though becoming a doctor wasn’t a possibility for her, Ftoon is now using her work in IT to help improve patient outcomes.

Ftoon is a PhD candidate in computer science who is combining natural language processing with relational database management to create a tool that would allow doctors to input patient’s symptoms and predict what is affecting their patient.

“I decided if I was going to work in IT, I wanted to create something that would help people,” she explains. “I worked in hospitals and so I know what queries we have to make to retrieve the right information and get the right outcome.”

Ftoon is currently implementing and proving her research. She describes her PhD studies as a long and interesting journey, as the research has required her to take on challenges she never imagined, such as a deep dive on English linguistics to help translate unstructured natural language questions into a structured and executable database query language. This translation shall facilitate the acquiring of knowledge from the medical field from a functioning and easily searchable database.

The native of Saudi Arabia immigrated to Toronto several years ago, and her credentials were not recognized in Canada. So, to secure meaningful work, she decided she was going back to school and looked for a university that matched her research interests and reflected the diversity of her new country. She chose Queen’s.

“The student support is much more advanced in Canada, and at Queen’s I have enjoyed the flexibility and comfortability of my studies,” Ftoon says. “Kingston is a very student-oriented city, and it’s quiet and safe. I have found the cost of living is also quite reasonable.”

Once she completes her studies, Ftoon plans on staying in Canada and seeking work wherever she can find it. She has enjoyed her time in Kingston, however, particularly the nature trails, hiking, sightseeing, and the water.

“Kingston is the heart of sailing in North America, and I take my boat out each summer,” she says. “I also go fishing at Lemoine Point and downtown on occasion.”

Ftoon is also working as a graduate student ambassador to help students considering Queen’s for computer science. Her advice is that your studies and your research are only limited by your imagination, and she points to her doctoral studies–combining her passion in medicine and IT–as an example. 

“It doesn’t matter what you’re studying, you can find interdisciplinary links in your research,” she says. “And you can find support here too–Queen’s has a lot of support programs from writing to work-study opportunities.”

To learn more about the doctorate in computer science, or other Queen’s graduate programs, visit the School of Graduate Studies’ website.