University of Milan (undergrad and PhD), NUI Galway (Scientist), Dublin City University (Professor and Scientist)
University of Milan, NUI Galway, Dublin City University
Currently, I am a Senior Researcher and Assistant Professor
Dublin City University
Favourite thing to do in my job: I love every time I learn something new I never thought of before by talking to my students or my colleagues!
About Me: I am Italian. I am a proud mum. Ah, and I would have probably been a rock singer if I didn't become a scientist :)
I am originally from Italy, but in Ireland long enough (10 years now!) to feel very much at home. I lived in Galway for 6 years but moved to Dublin 4 years ago. I used to perform as a lead rock singer in a band in my spare time before I moved to Ireland (and before I became a mum). My music keyboard and guitar is always nearby, just in case I need to find a different way of expressing myself.
I love the sun, the sea, cooking and eating good food (no Dominos thanks!) and do most of it from scratch at home, which I think has spoiled my loved ones quite a bit! I am a mum of two very smart and very stubborn little girls… they take it after me as my husband is the more patient, sensitive, calm Irish man.
Some people think I have been very lucky in my life. I think luck goes to whoever grabs it and creates their own opportunities. My motto is “you can do it!”.
My Work: I design computer programs to make machines "intelligent". This include capturing sensor data, images, text and processing them to understand danger, help medical diagnosis, and solve complex problems
Think about the way babies learn things when they are as young as 2 years old: to say new words, to name objects in pictures, to answer simple questions. Even tasks that seem trivial to you like building legos, color an image, understand if a toy is broken by just looking at it… As we grow up we learn more complex things: we learn to drive, to cook, to repair cars and planes, to fly into space and go to the moon! We also study, we practice, and so doctors can visit us and figure out whether there is a problem, linguists can understand and translate entire books into different languages, security guards can look at camera images and see if there is any danger,… All these things take a lot of time to learn and sometimes a lot of time and money to do. What if I tell you that computers, robots, machines can learn how to do these things and sometimes do them faster and better than us? This is what my research work is about: help creating intelligent machines that can learn things the way we learn, but faster. They won’t be able to replace us, but they could help a doctor, understand people feelings by looking at them, drive a car, go into space, translate books into different languages. anticipate danger, and much more. They could also create paintings, music and any other form of art. A machine like that can also answer almost any type of question (because they “know” things). And when you get the answer and you ask “why?”, they can answer that too!
My Typical Day: Before Covid, my day would start at 9am, I check for emails, read, watch online classes or go to classes given by scientists like me so I can learn new things and maybe get new ideas. After lunch I always take some time to think, I run some experiments and talk to my students and colleagues about my results
What I'd do with the money: I would like to help engineers and scientists like me to create professional short movies or cartoons that can explain their ideas and how they work in practice so that it can be fun to watch for kids, and that can be accessed on the internet.
Many times I would have liked to create short animated movie clips to be made available online for kids to understand what my work is about. But it is too time consuming and I do not know how to create good cartoons videos. I am sure many of my colleagues, like me, can picture in their head what they would show in a cartoon but they have no time and skills to actually do it. With the money I would like to have a special team working with some of the engineers and scientists I know to create those cartoons.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Artificial Intelligence Scientist that Rocks!
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Move to Ireland
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I have always been fascinated by the idea of creating intelligent machines that can act and think like us.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Computer Science, Music and Art.
What did you want to be after you left school?
I wanted to be a Professor and a Scientist
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not that I remember
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
I would be rock singer. Ok, I would at least try
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Elisa, an Italian songwriter that sings in english, you probably do not know her but she is quite famous in Canada.
What's your favourite food?
Home made pizza. Don’t forget I am Italian :)
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Diving in the Great Barrier Reef
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Have more time. Be happy. Make someone I love happy.
Tell us a joke.
Why did the jellybean want to go to school? Because she wanted to be a smartie!