Friday, 16 December 2011

Research Visits to the CSIR and UJ

Part of my trip home this year included research visits and talks at the University of Johannesburg, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

I visited the the University of Johannesburg on the 12th, and met with Tshilidzi Marwala who is the Dean of Engineering, and involved in research in various areas from missing data imputation, the analysis of interstate conflict and condition monitoring. I also met with Bhekisipho Twala, who also works in machine learning and AI in  areas including tree based methods, missing data imputation, and applications in credit risk and biometric analysis.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), located on am impressive and leafy campus in Pretoria, is the arm of the government of South Africa mandated to conduct research and development that promotes socio-economic growth in the country. I visited the Modelling and Digital Science division and gave a talk on probabilistic models for multi-class classification (look out for the paper on this soon). The talk was well attended (I was happy about this, especially since it's December) and I had the opportunity to chat to people working in Robotics and Biometrics. I even had the good fortune of meeting some of the directors of the CSIR at lunch.

The robotics research group is currently looking to hire an additional post-doc (details on the CSIR's website). Overall a great set of meetings - and hopefully not the last with these particular groups.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

A Review of The Canadian Science Policy Conference

Parliament Hill, Ottawa
I had the opportunity this past week, to attend the 3rd Canadian science policy conference  that was held in Ottawa. I attended to learn about science policy and explore what a career in science policy might look like.

Overall the conference was well done and very well attended. The speakers/attendees included the Minister of State for Science and Technology, the chief scientists of Australia and Quebec, the former Premier of British Columbia, other leading politicians with backgrounds in science, the heads of research councils such as CIHR, NSERC, MITACS, people from various Canadian agencies (health, environment, natural resources, atomic energy), journalists, and of course a good representation of academics (with quite a few postdocs) from various institutions.  

The conference looked at various topics, like the current Science, Technology and Innovation policy (STIC) in Canada, the recently released Jenkin's report on research and development

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Welcome to The Spectator.

I have been wanting to write a blog for quite some time, and thought I'd finally take the plunge and get something going. I hope I will add posts regularly, mainly as a mechanism to exercise my writing skills, and to share my thoughts on various aspects of machine learning and statistics research, science communication, and reports on any other interesting events. Hopefully anyone who finds this will find something of interest.

As an aside, I use the title The Spectator, after the popular London newsletter that circulated between 1711-12. I think it's a great read, but I'll let wikipedia tell you more.