EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training Cloud Computing for Big Data



Antonia travelled from Greece to join the second cohort in Newcastle. She worked with AkzoNobel to analyse global shipping and energy consumption datasets thanks to the CDT’s links with industry. She is now working on making hierarchical models more efficient and testing them on yeast genome datasets.

Discovering the programme

Antonia was no stranger to the workplace when she arrived in Newcastle. She had completed six years in industry, but was looking for a masters involving cloud computing or statistics.

“I wanted to learn more about big data. A friend told me about this programme, and it appealed to me. I loved learning about new technologies and techniques, and it’s funded as well.”

What inspires you?

A valuable mix of skills

She had a blend of computer science, maths and statistics experience already, but appreciated the mix of skills in her cohort – and in the centre itself.

“There were a lot of exercises to deliver on the programme, but whenever you needed help, you had the ability to talk to someone. The cohort approach was also interesting, as you were mixing people with statistics and computer science backgrounds.”

What have you learned on the programme?

Research interests

For her PhD project, Antonia has set out to improve the efficiency of algorithms used in Bayesian Hierarchical modelling to analyse yeast genome data. Yeast is widely used in bioscience research, and she’s working on data provided by Newcastle University’s Institute for Cell and Molecular Bio-sciences.

“The aim is to make the analysis faster and more efficient. The yeast genome is just a specific example. This can be used in finance and other areas as well.”

Tell us about your research

Real industry problems

As part of the programme, students were able to work in groups with industry partners, solving problems with the skills they’d developed.

“You learn to believe more in yourself and discover that you can do things that you didn’t believe you could do before.

“Group projects gave us an opportunity to work on real industry problems. AkzoNobel had data about the movements of its ships around the world, and wanted to learn more. There was also a project regarding prescriptions, and various others. These companies all learned something that they used to improve their services, and we saw what it meant to work on a team.”

Developing employability

Antonia also completed a three-month placement at AkzoNobel, drawing out insights from gas and electricity data.

“It’s not obligatory to do a placement, but it’s really useful. I would like to work as a data scientist when I finish, as I like the fact that every day you learn something new and sharpen your mind. You get to think about new solutions that are more efficient. And sometimes companies have the data and questions in mind, but maybe haven’t considered another aspect or approach.”

Making the most of of the programme

So does Antonia have any advice for anyone considering the programme?

“Make the most of it. And don’t get disappointed in the beginning when it’s hard, as the end is very rewarding. There’s a strong connection between the programme and industry, and it definitely helps you to meet people in these areas.

“For me, I can’t imagine a better experience, from my supervisors, the programme itself, and AkzoNobel.”

What impact do you feel big data will have?