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Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace Day - a celebration of the original computer scientist and daughter of the esteemed Lord Byron. So in honour of this I'm joining in the fun and posting about an inspirational women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).

So here is a short post about....Professor Susan Stepney. Susan was my external PhD examiner for my thesis exam. She has done so much in her life and has ended up a prof at York by such an unconventional path. Her original studies were in theoretical physics, and worked in industry for many years. Now she is a prof at the University of York, where she teaches "science" to computer scientists. This is why I think Susan is of particular note today. For me she is fabulous because while she understands key things like how to develop software in an industrial setting, how to use UML correctly, and she is also a fantastic scientist and supervisor (from what I've heard).

Its a noble challenge to try and get CS bods to understand the need for statistics in the more empirical areas of CS. Without Susan, I would not know how to correctly construct a null hypothesis! Nor would I know the difference between a t-test and a wilcoxon. Whenever I write a paper these days I get the "voice of Stepney" in my head reminding me to be rigorous and consistent in the presentation of my research. Without this none of the work I do would be any use. Also the manner in which she is prepared to go against the grain to do research the way she wants to is really an inspiration to me at a time in which I dont know which direction I'm going in. Thank you Susan for putting the science into Computer Science, at least from my perspective.

DCs In The News

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7888042.stm

So at last, characterisation of the necrotic signalling pathway receptor. Now all they have to do is figure out the kinetics and I can get rid of the weighted signal proc eqn and implement something more sensible. So finally the DCs in the DCA might not resemble a NN or Linear classifier! Then maybe I'll even sleep in on a weekend.

Joking aside, its fascinating science and great news for team danger.

Shakin off the big chill

I cant say that the last month has been productive. In fact it has been disappointingly slow and its starting to feel like a long time since I did any serious research. As a result of a serious bout of winter flu I've been off my feet quite a bit and its been frustrating as there is so much I would have liked to have gotten done in advance of next semester. No point moping I guess, I had just better get on with it, double speed.

One of the most important skills I learnt as a PhD student was the ability to hit the ground hard and really turn up the burners when work really needs to be done. So as much as it is going to hurt, the next two weeks I am going to really ramp it up and clear the moderate backlog of things which have built up over the last month or so. This starts with the submission of the last ever Danger Project paper. Its strange that this echo of the past has lingered so long - after all its just another journal paper. But I've had a real mental block over this one, partly because I was annoyed at having to work on it in the first place but also that I think may have been clinging on to it with it being the last ever thing to happen in the project. It really is closing the book on the PhD and accepting completely that life really has moved on. I find it equally hard to believe that I was so attached to it, as it is to think of how different life was at the official close of the project nearly two years ago now.

I was an RA, without any money, esteem, students, house, direction and (strangely) cats. Now I have a real job as an academic member of staff I am finding that my perspective on life has completely changed, as have other people's perception of who I am. Does that mean that I am no longer the same person, just because of a change of job? Or is it that I have been given the reassurance by my peers that I am worthy of doing this job and doing it well, I hope , and I owe it to these people to make good on their faith in me to perform? Either way, I am feeling a little out of synch with the world.

Despite the undercurrent of apprehension I am quite looking forward to challenging myself against my most deadly opponent - my own determination. Bring it on.

Scream when you want to go faster

Our "happenings" at AT this week have finally concluded. It was a great day today, feeling like the finish line is finally in sight. The sun came out, we did the last couple of experiments in the early afternoon, then me and stef primal screamed our hearts out the good old corkscrew. 4 days of data, umpteen research questions, first encounter of the media kind, and a serious amount of surgical tape. The participants were brilliant, our team was amazing and to cap it all off, we looked like frikin ghostbusters with the kit strapped on. Who ya gonna call?


Now if I could only get the bloody AT entrance theme tune out of my head I might finally be able to relax. Thanks stef, thanks a lot mate :P

Oooodallally!

 Research is officially amazing. Every now and again, something happens with your experiment and bang! you get hit with some unexpected results which just blow your head off. I cant be chewed with going into the details, but lets just say that electromagnets and biometric devices are not necessarily a good combination - yup, we lost the biosensor on Thril day 3, but more importantly we know why and how that can act as a hypothesis for a new stream of research. Today, well the biggest curveball was slinged at us, but we've hit this one right out of the park. I smell a paper coming on........ and no, I'm not a ghostbuster ( u wouldnt believe how many people have asked us that). 

.....now I must catch up on some sleep before I actually collapse. Back to reality with a bump tomorrow. 

Bogey journal

Back in the late 1990's newcastle united had a team which they should have beaten but regularly didnt, namely Southampton FC - their bogey team. In a similar manner, over the years I've not had much luck with submissions to the journal associated with ICARIS - my bogey submission. The review paper we were going to submit ended up too rushed and is so far the only rejection we've had. In 2005 I wasnt invited, I dont think there was a special issue from 2006, in 2007 Bob was asked but given that we werent exactly getting along too well at the time I had no involvment in that paper either.

This year I have been asked to extend my icaris paper for the JMMA special issue on AIS. While I think it is really important to have a DCA presence in this journal, actually getting the work done at the speed I need is proving to be very difficult as I transition from RF to lecturer. I'm doing half the job of a post-doc and half the job of a lecturer. Plus, not having my co-author around to help out is proving to be a royal pain in the butt....esp as I'd scheduled this week specifically to get this work done, and it turns out he was only in the office for 2/5 days. It would have been good to know this say maybe 2 weeks ago and I could have re-prioritised things. As I was saying to Feng earlier assumption really is the mother of all f**k ups, and it was an oversight on my part not to get these things clearly scheduled in advance. And this paper is teetering on the balance of either I stress myself out to get it done or I cant make it and end up knackered in any case. Why is it always the case that I feel like I need an extra week for these things even when I try to set an earlier personal deadline?

Gotta get some results sorted else I stand no chance. But life is turning into one mahoosive balancing act atm, lets just hope I dont fall on my face.

Thrill Tuesday #2

Been getting my head around what is going to go on in the field experiment next week. I understand now what this feasibility study is all about and am looking forward to having nearly one week out of the office. Its great how its all coming together. Yet, its going to be an effort to manage my time effectively enough that I can devote some real research time to the existing and pending data and my continuing work with all things DCA. I will do it though, I will.

Thrill.

Been off to do some field work today for the Thrill Laboratory. Despite the rain we managed to get round 7/8 rides and test that the new kit will physically fit on the rides we want to study. The good news is that the biometric data I have is synchronised, which makes my life a lot easier. Also I managed to do a couple of studies on Oblivion, to see what the timings are and what the variability is between subjects. From kick off to the stop its a reliable number of seconds. This also lets me focus in on the potentially most adrenaline inducing stage of the data.

Roll on thrill tuesdays :)
This week I fielded a number of challenging questions about my research, through the interview process for my lecturing position. One of such questions was about the extent to which the modelling of the immune system is taken to. I stated that in contrast to previous approaches, that we had adopted an approach of rigourous modelling. This was mis-interpreted I think to imply 'simulation'. In my head at least there is a difference between being accurate and rigourous with your model, as it gives you the insight as to what is necessary to abstract. This is different to simulation, where you are going out of your way to both qualitatively and quantitatively assess the behaviour of the simulation in comparison with the data generated from the study of the original system.

I would like to stress that rigour is not the same as explicit detailed computational immunology. It simply isnt due to both the objectives and the nature of the models produced. Perhaps I should say something about this in the next pure AIS paper which I write. I have a couple in the pipeline which I want done before the new job kicks in on the 1st November.

Times they are a changing

Tomorrow I move offices. To my own office, because I'm now a lecturer in Computer Science. I've got a feeling I'm going to need to start blogging again :) I mean it this time.