Position held at THINKlab: Research Assistant
Time at THINKlab: July 2007 to June 2009
My Experience at THINKlab
I came to work at the THINKlab about a year after the end of my Master’s Degree. I had been working at a software company prior to joining. The THINKlab was a medium-size structure at the time with Terrence leading about 10 researchers (Jialiang, Kuo-Cheng, Omar, May, Farshid, Gilles, Dulcidio, Sas, and myself) and Carla and Hanneke running everything in the lab! We were also lucky to have Stan and Colin, two experienced consultants to support us on our projects. It was a special place to work, with wonderful colleagues, and brand new facilities. We were constantly hosting events and people in the lab. I learned there and then how important the physical space is to creating a collaborative and collegial environment.
At the THINKlab, I worked on two European-funded projects (INTUITION and CoSpaces). My work on INTUITION taught me about project management while my work on CoSpaces was more technical. On INTUITION, a main part of our work was to ensure that everything was going well with our European partners. We then ended up traveling all across Europe to check on the work being done. I learned about the EU research funding strategies and how to manage multiple partners with different interests. This skill set is now invaluable to me, as I realize how few people get to experience working on such large-scale projects. On the CoSpaces project, we had to develop a collaborative user-interface tool for the construction industry. I learned new computing development skills as well as how to work with deadlines and deliverables.
An important part of being in the THINKlab was how much I learned from my colleagues and how much everyone was willing to share their knowledge and skills. I realize now how rare it is to work in such an open and collaborative place and this is something I strive to achieve in my own research lab.
How has THINKlab supported/assisted your career and/or academic progression?
My work at the THINKlab was interesting and helped me develop many transversal skills. It also made me realize how much I needed a PhD to have a successful research career, which is where I moved on to after working at the THINKlab.
After the THINKlab, in July 2009, I started a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Bristol in the field of Human-Computer Interaction. During my PhD, I worked on several collaborations with the DFKI research institute in Saarbrucken, Germany and spent some time as an intern at Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing. After completing my PhD in 2013, I traveled for some months across South America, before starting a postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell Tech, New York in January 2014 and then Stanford University from July 2014 to September 2016. I am now about to start a faculty position at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel in March 2017 in the departments of Computer Science and Communication.