Dr Felipe Orihuela-Espina
PhD Computer Science, 2005
Senior lecturer in the School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham
As faculty, I have duties involving carrying out research, teaching and lecturing, tutoring and pastoral, sharing administrative tasks within the school and fulfilling academic service to the wider scientific community (reviewing, scientific event organization, etc).
What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
Research! Learning new things is fascinating. Unfortunately, I can't dedicate as much time to it as I would like because of all the other academic duties.
What made you interested in your current role?
A bit of chance, and a bit of an odd story. I originally planned my PhD as a gateway to something else, but while doing it, research and the academic life got me. I owe a lot of the passion that I now have about research to my supervisor, Prof. Ela Claridge. Even though I come from a family with strong academic roots, I actually didn't know research could be so incredibly fun!
How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?
When I graduated, I first moved to Mexico and worked in a public University there and then I came back to UK to Imperial College. I then went back to Mexico where I worked at an excellent research center from the Mexican government, and only recently came back to the UK in Sep 2021. Otherwise, progress has been steady; slowly but surely as most of us in academic life.
What motivates you?
Learning. My ignorance grows every single day.
Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?
I must admit that at the time I was not very knowledgeable about the strength of Birmingham as a University. My application was more down to practical matters; they were offering a scholarship on a topic that I liked. It was also important for me that it was abroad, but the only other language that I speak other than Spanish was a bit of (terrible!) English.
What are your fondest memories of the University?
Many, but I met my wife here! She was also a PhD student at this University although in a different discipline. We've been together for 20 years now.
Did you get involved in any extracurricular activities as a student?
Yes. I used to belong to the Mexican Society. Although I'm Spanish, the Spanish society at the time was mostly the people who studied Spanish philology, whereas the Mexican society, despite the name, was a gathering of many Spanish speakers of different nationalities.
What was your biggest influence to start your career?
Again my biggest influence was my supervisor and mentor, Dr Ela Claridge, who I still admire much, both academically and as a person. We became good friends. As of today, I still seek her advice for many things.
What advice would you give to current students studying on your degree programme?
Enjoy yourself! While it's important to study and pass your exams, the friends you make at university are some of the best you will ever make. Explore topics and cutting-edge technologies with your peers and lecturers - the business world isn't as fast paced, so your fresh ideas can help guide them toward better practices or techniques. Your future is not yet defined; your degree may be directly or indirectly related to what you end up doing in your career. If you enjoy and love what you do, the right path will find you.
Sentimental words from Dr Orihuela-Espina...
“I've been very happy in Birmingham. So much that I came back after all these many years. Although now I'm on the other side of the desk, I'm still a student at Birmingham and continue to enjoy learning as much as then.”