What is it like to work at Microsoft Cambridge? We put this question, plus a few others, to some of our Researchers and Scientists to give an insight into what they do, how they got here and what they want to achieve in the future.
What did you dream you would be when you were younger?
A famous scientist :)
Why did you become a scientist and how did you go about becoming a one?
I was always intrigued by science, especially biology and physics. I first went to Med School and after a year I’ve decided I’m more into research so I switched to Life Sciences and when I graduated I did a Master in Biophysics and Physiology and then continued to do a PhD in Neuroimmunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science. I wanted to ‘taste’ as many subjects as I could :)
What's it like working at Microsoft Research and what do you do?
I’m a Researcher at our Cambridge, UK Lab, in the Programming, Principles & Tools group. Within that group (which I regard more of as a ‘department’ in the academic sense) I supervise several PhD and MSc students (6 at the moment) and we study the intersection between computability and living systems. It’s a fascinating area! As a biologist, working at Microsoft can be quite challenging at times. I manage to bridge the gap between theory and lab experiments through very tight collaborations with colleagues in academia and take advantage of the huge talent and world leading computer scientists we have in Microsoft Research. It took a while to get used to, but now after three years I can honestly say that I have the best of both worlds. In addition to my position at Microsoft, I am an associate Lecturer at Cambridge University and Oxford University. I take these roles very seriously and I have integrated a new course into the curriculum of the undergraduate studies in Cambridge University, which I teach together with colleagues at the university. This is an introduction course to a new field I call ‘Executable Biology’.
What are your aspirations within your role?
I believe that the potential ability to construct computer programs that will mimic aspects of biological behaviors (which is what we try to do) will change the face of biology and medicine as we know it. It’s only a matter of time until we have our entire ‘cassette’ on a chip and would be able to check the state of our genes, general health, etc. on our PC at any given moment. This is the direction we are going, and my vision is that in 5-10 years from now, executable models will become a mainstream technique in biological and medical research. That is my goal, and in order to get there we need to provide the means i.e. computational tools for biologists, that will enable this revolution in science.
How has working at Microsoft Research affected your career/research goals?
Working at Microsoft Research allows me to work alongside with the best people in the world of software research. It’s complementary to my skills and creates a very good synergy.
Tell us an unusual/interesting fact about yourself ?
I don’t have time for hobbies, I’m addicted to my work :) Claim to fame? My amazing daughter Shirley of course!