JGI Student Experience Profiles: Richard Lane (Ask-JGI Data Science Support 2021-22)
I’m very glad I applied to Ask-JGI; I wanted to get some broader experience with data science than my studies offered and to solve some problems that I wouldn’t ordinarily come across. I found that not only was I exposed to diverse and interesting areas of data science, but also got to be involved with things that I hadn’t considered – the JGI team have a wide range of interests and it was great being immersed in a community interested in everything from data hazards and data ethics to software development and best practices, to outreach and public engagement.
The JGI team and workplace culture were great – the JGI staff and PGR helpers were all lovely and the range of interests and personalities made for a really friendly and dynamic feel. The less academic environment was also a nice change of pace – Ask-JGI felt like a team of professionals working on small, self-contained problems, which contrasted nicely with my less well-defined, more bureaucratic PhD studies.
My favourite part of my JGI experience was taking part in the range of in-person workshops and events that the JGI is involved in throughout the year- I found myself tending a stall at the JGI’s Bristol Data & AI Showcase, organising materials for the Data Week Handbook Resource workshop and attending a research culture networking event. These were all really fun, hugely rewarding, and something I’d recommend to anyone interested in any of the work that the JGI does.
The time commitment doesn’t have to be huge – the work we did was flexible enough that it didn’t impose on my studies during crunch time, and in less busy periods I could tackle more work. The largest project I took on was with a team hoping to improve the student experience, which involved natural language processing of email data. I worked to make a prototype model to classify, label and cluster emails on similar topics. To do this I used several data-science techniques that were familiar to me, but I also had to consider data security, privacy and ethics challenges which I found surprisingly interesting and something I hadn’t encountered before.
Overall I would absolutely recommend joining the Ask-JGI team to anyone interested in engaging with data science and the wider Bristol research community – you’ll get to solve some interesting problems, meet some great people and immerse yourself in the diversity of Bristol’s research.