Friends of Agro-Know: Paulo Alonso Gaona Garcia

Paulo presenting the outcomes of his research in AK

Paulo Gaona is a researcher from Bogota, Colombia, who is currently working on his PhD thesis which is is in progress at University of Alcalá, Spain. In the context of an interesting (and fruitful, in my opinion) collaboration, Paulo spent the last three months in Greece (most of them in the AK office) and soon became a part of the AK team! He was always kind and ready to share some interesting stories with us; it was nice for us to have Paulo in the office and there have already been plans for potential next meetings. To me, it was an amazing fact that a researcher from Colombia managed to get to Greece in order to complete a part of his work; this would have never happened if there were not strong links between the IERU (Information Engineering Research Unit) team and Agro-Know.

Paulo prepared a presentation about his research work here in AK and delivered it on Friday 24/1/2014; this was also his last day in the AK office. He was also was kind enough to respond to some of our questions, as we asked him to share some details (both personal and research) with the rest of the team.


1. Could you please tell us a bit about yourself? What is your (educational/academic) background and what is your current position?

I received a degree as a system engineer, and obtained a master in information science and communications from Distrital University, Bogota-Colombia.  I’m a professor at Engineering Faculty of Distrital University, and active member of GIIRA research group. I’m currently Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science at the Alcala University, Spain.

2. What are your research interests?

My research interests are related with computer science, network and communications, e-learning, visualization techniques and semantic web. I always has been interested in the line of information science, but since 2004 I’m really interested by e-learning and all application that could improve the education in general way.

3. How did you actually end up in Greece and what have you been working on during your stay?

Well, it was a good opportunity offered by my supervisor (Salvador Sanchez) in Alcala University, in order to make a research stay related with the field of information visualization and digital repositories. So, with the aim to improve the research in progress of my PhD and consolidate knowledge in a real scenario of work, Agro-Know was a good option due to the relation of projects in the field of digital repositories.

Paulo during his presentation in AK


My work consisted in the development of a generic visualization framework that will allow browsing of resources in data pools like Organic Edunet and VOA3R/AGRIS based on domain specific classifications like Organic Edunet ontology or viticultural ontology and their mappings to AGROVOC. The visualization framework will allow a) the visualization of domain specific classifications e.g. Viticulture Research ontology and OA-AE used in data pools such as AGRIS/VOA3R and Organic.Edunet (OE) and their mappings to external big KOSs such as AGROVOC, b) visual search of bibliographic and educational resources in the Organic.Edunet/GLN and AGRIS/VOA3R data pools respectively using these classifications and c) taking advantage of the mappings to AGROVOC to connect to external resources of the Linked Open Data (LOD) web and between different data pools e.g. OE and AGRIS.


4. What do you think about Agro-Know and the team?

The time passed so quickly … !!!, but for me it was sufficient to know the quality of persons, some of the European projects in progress and trajectory of the company. So, I have good impressions of all the people there, very friendly and helpfully. It’s amazing the manner of work, and for me was a privilege to be a part of Agro-Know in this period of time.


Paulo with the AK team


5. You have spent three months in Greece; how did you like it so far? Any specific memories of places you visited around Greece? Which are the main differences between the everyday life between Greece and Colombia?

Life in Athens is an amazing experience, definitely all news in general, shows always the negative part of a country, government, economy, etc, etc .. but when you are a foreigner, you try to see other perspectives, like the culture, history, food; and in general Greece has a lot of all these topics. So, Athens has a lot of touristic places, museums and places to eat wonderful dishes, like tiropites, moussaka, greek salad, tsipouro, tzatziki cream, greek potatos and of course souvlakis and pita gyros. But definitely if it is to highlight some special place, I have the best memories of the beautiful views of Meteora in Kalambaka, and the sunset of Oia in Santorini.

(L-R) Salvador (UAH), Paulo and Giannis (AK) (Photo courtesy of Salvador)

Regarding the everyday life in Colombia, well … there are a variety of things, but I think that the most remarkable difference are the people there … are more friendly and of course the food (although the food in Greece are very delicious). Colombia has a variety of delicious dishes, fruits, and strategic geographic location in South America.


6. What are your hobbies? How do you spend your free time?

I like in general the food, discover new flavors in the food, but I would like to have more time for cook. Although I’m a beginner cook, I promise to improve my cooking techniques.. 😉

Also, I like to go hiking, walking around beautiful places, mountains, and in general spend my free time with all my family as much as possible.


7. Where can we find you online?

Maybe through this way, or directly through the Engineering Faculty of Distrital University in Colombia … 🙂

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