Natasha Micic

PhD Computer Science

  • Previously studied BSc (Hons) Computational Mathematics at the University of Bradford.
  • Specialising in Big Data Analytics, Time Series Analytics and Big Data Quality.
Photo of Natasha

Why did you decide to study at the University of Bradford?

I visited on an Open Day – on a snowy day! I was very impressed by how modern and open the University looked, and the labs full of computers looked perfect!

I was particularly impressed by the Students’ Union, and the people were all so friendly.

 

What attracted you to Computing?

I find Computing very creative because you're designing programs to solve a problem. I come from a Mathematics background, where if there's a problem, there's always a solution.

The process of researching, finding the best way to solve the problem and getting to the end goal appeals to me.

At the end of the process, having something tangible and being able to say "I created that and it works exactly as I want it to" is very satisfying.

What are the real-world applications of your research? How does your work impact everyday life?

Big data analytics looks into ways of adding value to the massive amount of data produced and stored by companies.

It's about discovering additional uses for existing data. For example, a lot of the data stored by the NHS is only used for one purpose, but it could also be used in new ways, to make new discoveries.

Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

We're also working on data quality. There's an experiment currently being run on a car engine, which has a thousand sensors in it.

Engineers are finding that sometimes the data is really poor quality, and they have to look through entire databases to be able to understand the data.

We're investigating ways to save the engineers time by automating the process of searching the data. We're also trying to better understand the relationships between the signals that are being processed.

Have the facilities, such as the labs and library, been useful during your studies?

Yes. During my undergraduate degree, I was always in the labs – they're a big part of the learning experience.

I spent a lot of time in the labs with other people, sharing programming ideas with other students and lecturers.

I used the library a lot during my undergraduate degree, and now a lot of the materials I need for my research can be accessed online using the University accounts. This means I can work from anywhere.

Despite increased numbers of female developers, programming is still often considered to be a male-orientated field.

Would you give any advice to female students considering studying programming at university?

Just go for it, don't be worried by your gender. There have been more men than women on my courses, and most of my friends have been male, but I've always felt that I fitted in.

Everybody at university is so nice and friendly and there's plenty of support around; we're all just people who enjoy a topic.

Do you have a good relationship with the academic staff at the University?

I get along with them all really well, and they’re available whenever I need help or support. They've taught me though my undergraduate degree, so they know my interests and what I'm capable of.

It's good to be around academics you can trust and go to if you have a problem, and who are also so enthusiastic and full of ideas.

What do you like about Bradford?

I enjoy how close everything is – I can just pop to the Broadway and go shopping if I want to. It's nice to be surrounded by lots of people, with so many activities going on.

There are some lovely parks, where I go to do yoga. I also like how close it is to Leeds!

I've found my time at Bradford interesting, creative and very rewarding

Are you a member of any societies?

I was a member of PiSoc (Pi Society), who work with external organisations to create projects for students. Often the organisations will want a website or some programming doing for them.

It's a great learning experience for students, and it allows you to apply your knowledge creatively. I was also in a society for musicals called BUSOM, which was very enjoyable.

It gave me the chance to make new friends, be a bit eccentric and to sing and dance.

Do you think that joining societies is a good way of meeting people?

Yes, definitely. I met a lot of my friends while working on modules, and we would go to PiSoc together and meet other Computing students.

Joining societies which aren't related to your study, such as BUSOM, helps you to meet friends outside your usual groups.

Where do you see yourself in five years' time?

I often think about this, and I always change my mind! I've been involved in assisting undergraduate students in labs, and I really enjoy helping them learn.

In the future, I would like to teach modules and help students in that way. My PhD finishes in around three years – I may stay on at Bradford to become a Research Assistant.

I’d like to propose some Maths modules to replace the Computational Mathematics course, and maybe get involved with teaching.

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