Oscar's journey to the DoSSIER project

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--   Interview with Oscar Mendoza    --

S: Tell us a bit about your background!

O: I have a bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in Systems Engineering and Informatics, my orientation is Computer Science, and I mainly worked on Optimization Algorithms for image recovery. After my master's, I worked as a computer scientist at the Statistical Department of the Colombian Institute for Educational Evaluation.

S: How did you find out about DoSSIER and what made you decide to apply?

O: I’m subscribed to the Mailing list SIGIR, and the project was posted there. The last project I was involved in before DoSSIER was related to NLP and ML. Therefore, the DoSSIER project represented a pretty good opportunity to continue my academic career in something I was working on, and I was pretty interested in.

S: How long are you already working on the project?

O: I started the Ph.D. in November, so it's been about seven months. Because of the pandemic, I had to start from Colombia for two months. I move to Milan in January; then, it's been almost four months living in this new environment.

S: What are your initial thoughts on DoSSIER and your experience?

O: I feel fortunate to have the leading professors team, to have them as part of our training, and we are creating a promising network. I’m looking forward to being an active component of this huge project; I believe that the commitment of every element is essential to achieve its aim, so it’s nice to have colleagues in the same process as mine working head to head.

S: What project are you currently working on?

O: 15 neural networks contextual search. It involves context modeling for improving the outcome of IR models in professional domains, with neural networks as the primary tool.

S: Tell us about your team environment. What do you enjoy about collaborating with your small team and the larger lab?

O: I share my local lab with two of the project supervisors and two of the ESRs. I enjoy many things about collaborating with my team; I will highlight three. First, sharing with foreign people and trying to communicate ideas in the non-native language of anyone. Second, seeing the work of people that have years of experience in the field. And third, sharing my first experiences with my colleagues.

S: What excites you the most about the field of IR and HCI?

O: First, computer scientists work with abstract languages. IR allows us to work with both abstract and natural language. And then, We are trying to solve the problem for a daily basis application where a human must interact with a system. Hence, we must think about real users before proposing solutions. For me, those two things are exciting.

S: Walk us through a day in the life of a DoSSIER PhD student.

O: I start my morning by doing reading and bibliography tasks. Then, I have a lunch break. I’m having tasks related to algorithms and programming, so more practical activities during the afternoon work. After the working day, I usually go for a run or do another workout and get in touch with the closer urban environment.

S: Thanks for the interview!

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 860721