bachelor, masters and PhD
So many places! From babysitting and waitressing to being a post-doc researcher!
Favourite thing to do in science: check out all the new techy apps for translation
I'm a geek for technology
I’m a Brazilian who came to live in Ireland to work with technology for translation. I love speaking in different languages and meeting different cultures.
“But your name is Sheila! That’s Irish!” Yeah, yeah, I heard it. It’s not the same pronunciation though! Also, look at my surname! =D
I fell in love with the irishisms, the people, even the weather and I plan to stay around to keep working with technology for a long time.
I work with machine translation. I teach computers how to translate.
You may ask ” Machine translation? What is that?!”
And I’d say “You know Google translate? It’s either that page you go to paste a text in a foreign language and it gives you the translation in English, or even a button in a foreign-language website which you click to see the website in English. So that’s is a machine translation system. In my group we build them (like many of them!) and I test them to see if they are giving a translation that the users (you guys!) can understand!”.
“So you need to speak all the languages then?” you may ask.
And I’d say “Not really! We have ways of telling if the translation is good enough automatically! And when we cant use that, we ask translators to do it!”
You may think ” Well, I used one of those translations once and they were really bad!” and don’t realise even though you’re not saying it, your face is!
“Well, sometimes some people may think the systems are really bad, sometimes they think they are ‘good enough’ – so we work with the concept that if it helped you to understand a bit of the text, that is good enough” I’d explain, noticing your face.
“Once I used one that was really good!” – you may say out loud because you’re nice and want to make me feel better!
“Yes, it was probably us who built that one!” – I’d lie.
You realise I’m lying. We laugh.
My Typical Day
Sometimes quite, sometimes very busy!
There are different days at work for me. Sometimes is a quiet day and I do some research, write scientific papers, have brainstorming sessions with colleagues.
Sometimes I have s much to do! I have to run experiments with translators and I ask them to look at many translated texts and tell me what problems they find, they I have to gather all the results and analyse them, so I can tell the engineers where they are making mistakes when they build the systems! Phew!
Sometimes, we get to go present our work at conferences in various places! This year I went to Hong Kong and lat year I went to Japan! Always to talk about technology! It’s awesome.
What I'd do with the money
I'd run a "Girls in STEM" day!
We have a group in my research group called ‘women in Adapt’ where we get together to discuss how we can deal with gender issues in STEM. A good idea would bring school girls to one Adapt day event where the women scientist here would present their work to the girls and we would run loads of hands-on workshop with coding, linguistic puzzles, etc. It would be so much fun!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Geeky, fun but tough!
Who is your favourite singer or band?
I don't really have a favorite one - I like songs more than specific singers. But Aerosmith <3 <3
What's your favourite food?
It is pizza. From Naples.
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I went to a robot restaurant once in Japan!
What did you want to be after you left school?
I wanted to be a singer
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Yes, I used to talk a lot in class
What was your favourite subject at school?
Linguistics and Math
What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?
More than discovering anything new, I think motivating girls to become scientists is one of the biggest things we do!
What or who inspired you to become a scientist?
I didn't really have someone who inspired me. I think always wanting to learn more is what made me choose this path!
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
A researcher in another area!
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
to be taller, to speak all languages in the world, to be a super-duper hacker!
Tell us a joke.
What computer sings the best? A Dell. (see? I *am* hilarious!)