EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training Cloud Computing for Big Data



Hollie was part of the CDT’s second cohort of students. She is currently examining theoretical methods for assessing global wind models. She is also a competitive International Powerlifting Federation powerlifter.

Discovering the programme

Hollie grew up with a love of maths, and completed an undergraduate degree in the subject before going on to a postgraduate diploma in computer science. Before discovering the programme, she was working in software development.

“I didn’t really want to spend my life doing software development, as I didn’t have a passion for it. I enjoyed writing code, but the software development work I was doing was more about maintaining systems that were already built.

"This programme seemed like a good way to do the things I enjoyed. I love playing with numbers, and this is based on big data and looking at patterns. It was also a cohort approach, and you could work on problems in a cross-disciplinary way.”

Benefits of the CDT

In the first two weeks of the programme, students are required to complete an intensive primer in either maths or computer science. Hollie opted for maths.

“It had been quite a few years since my maths degree, but I found myself quite enjoying being back in that world.

“We then completed a variety of modules in areas across cloud computing, stats and general programming. Because we did that training in many different areas, you realised there was a hugely diverse range of fields you could explore.

I’m the sort of person that sees something I enjoy and I go in that direction. I believe that if you find something interesting, throw yourself into it and learn about it.”

What are the benefits of the CDT?

Research interests

Initially Hollie’s project was looking at modelling global wind data for the purposes of compression. She’s now making use of methods such as statistical topology and survival data to analyse the data in new ways.

"We’re talking about simulated data from big climate models. It’s too big to store and use effectively, so a lot of it is wasted. But if you can model and compress it in a useful way you can get better insights from it.

“Now - rather than modelling - we’re applying ideas from other areas of mathematics in order to get more insight than you would normally. We’re looking at methods such as statistical topology and survival analysis.

"I wanted to work on a project that meant something. But this work can be applied to different fields and areas.”

Tell us about your research

Finding a balance

She’s also a powerlifter, and trains four days a week. She says the balance of the two disciplines can be excellent for “keeping her sane” when one or the other isn’t going so well.

“Having that balance of interests keeps me sane. If I’m having a bad day with one, I can focus on the other. Because that’s the nature of a PhD. It’s not a success every day. You’ll have times when you’re not making as much progress as you’d like, and having something to fall back on helps.”

The value of big data

Hollie is also working part-time with a company, and says industry is certainly beginning to recognise the potential of data science and cloud computing.

“The ideas behind it aren’t necessarily new, but people are starting to realise how powerful it is and how it can be applied. Working in the field is exciting but also quite frustrating. You’ve just got to put yourself out there and be okay with failing at stuff a lot.

"The CDT gives you much more of an awareness of the different technology there is out there. Now I feel that if someone said to me: ‘Do you know this?’, I’d be able to reply that I’m familiar with it in a way I wouldn’t have been able to do before.”


What impact do you feel big data will have?