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Current position: PhD student
Employer: Amsterdam Machine Learning Lab (AMLab), UvA
Master’s programme and track: Artificial Intelligence

Passion for research and machine learning

'I am a PhD Student at AMLab, a position I found through a vacancy on the UvA website. I realised early on during my studies that I love doing research – and that’s what I get to do every day now! My research focus is on machine learning, and my dream is to make computers smarter in a human-like way. For example, humans can learn a lot just by observing the world or by interacting with it, whereas computers still rely heavily on humans explicitly telling them what to learn and do. To decrease this discrepancy, I like to think about how human intelligence works, and to apply these concepts to machine learning. At the moment, I am on leave from my PhD position to do a four-month internship at Google Brain. This internship is also focused on research but allows me to build more connections to other researchers outside of academia and to get to know the work life at Google.'

Structured freedom

'Most of the time, I am working on some research project. This involves thinking about the research question, implementing experiments in code, running and evaluating experiments, discussing everything with my supervisor and collaborators, and writing down and presenting my final results. Additionally, I also teach students – either as a teaching assistant in a course or by supervising students during their theses. Every week, I have a meeting with my supervisor to discuss my progress and next steps. Depending on my teaching obligations, I also have meetings with the students that I supervise, or I attend practical sessions. Besides that, I am very free in how I structure my time. I can go to presentations that I am interested in, schedule meetings or have a coffee with colleagues and collaborators to discuss our research, or work on my own project.'

Curious, creative and persistent

'To do a PhD, I think it is important to be curious, creative and persistent – a lot of my work involves thinking of a research question and then digging deeper into it until I have an answer. Additionally, I think it is important to be a good communicator – the best science is worthless if no one else understands what you are doing. My advice to students would be to talk to people as much as possible. Ask them about their career paths, what they want to do, how they got there. I think people are generally really happy to talk about what they’re doing, and there’s a lot to be learned from that as well. If you’re interested in artificial intelligence, for example, the UvA is home to internationally renowned researchers in that field, which are always open to connect with students and work on projects together. I think it’s really cool to have these kind of opportunities throughout your studies.'