Stepping up: From undergraduate student to researcher

Georgica Bors talks us through the transition to being a researcher

Georgica Bors

Towards the end of my second year of studies I was presented with a great opportunity: carrying out an individual research project as part of the SURE scheme ran by The University of Sheffield. As an enthusiastic Computer Science student with a keen interest in Machine Learning and its real-world applications, I found it the ideal project for me. This scheme is an excellent opportunity for students to contribute directly to the research projects carried out by the university, thus gaining practical experience by working on engaging projects in the areas of interest of the students.

The research project I carried out aimed to identify the main areas that need support from the public health authorities. In order to achieve this, I used a mixture of Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing methods for classifying automatically a variety of Twitter posts based on the health conditions they contained. The findings of this project are extremely valuable to both public health authorities and researchers in order to raise awareness of where their attention should be focused.

Following the completion of this project, the Department of Computer Science helped me through funding, which enabled me to present the research work that I had carried out over the summer at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research 2019, which was held at The University of Cardiff. I am sincerely thankful for this opportunity, which would not have been possible without the help of the department and the university.

During the time I spent at the conference in Cardiff I had the chance to present my findings to other students from different universities across the country which were there to present their projects as well. I was able to both present my project and attend other very interesting presentations during my time at this conference, which made it a truly valuable experience. In comparison to me, the majority of the other students were presenting their dissertation projects whereas I was presenting an extra-curricular research project. Many students attended my presentation and asked question regarding different aspects of my project as they were interested to find out how to use some of the techniques in their own work. I was able to grow my network by meeting very smart and talented people from different backgrounds which opened my mind to new ideas and gave me insight into other important research being carried out in areas other than Computer Science. In addition, it provided me with some other applications of technology, inspiring me to take my work further.

Between the two days which the conference ran over, I had some time to explore Cardiff and the astonishing architecture of the city. Also, as the presentation was held at The University of Cardiff, I was able to walk through the campus and experience the atmosphere offered by a university different than mine.

This whole experience was a stepping stone in my career as I was able to use the knowledge and experience I gained in order to get a job in a company that focuses intensively on Machine Learning, which has always been one of my greatest ambitions. Now I can call this dream reality.