Dr Maggie Lieu
PhD Astrophysics, 2016
Research Fellow in Machine Learning & Cosmology, University of Nottingham
I'm currently conducting research using clusters of galaxies to determine the cosmological parameters that govern our Universe. To do this I'm using statistical techniques to study their mass and growth. Additionally, I lecture the machine learning in science MSc.
What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
I'm really excited about the fast pace development of the machine learning field and the new advancements that it's bringing to astronomy and astrophysics. One project I recently worked on was reducing astronomical observation times using deep learning models, and right now I'm most excited about using neural emulators to help us approximate complex, and expensive-to-calculate theoretical models.
How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?
Since graduating from the University of Birmingham I've entered a work environment that requires a lot of independence on my part. There is no one working in my exact field of research, and very few working in this science in general, but that’s also a good thing since I'm able to interact and learn from people of a diverse science background.
What made you interested in your current role?
My research fellowship gives me the freedom to work on exciting but also risky science, whilst at the same time giving me an opportunity to teach.
Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?
After spending a year in LA and three years in Kent, I wanted to be closer to my family and friends. I applied to Birmingham because it's a renowned university that is close to home. But also because it had a great group working in the field I found most interesting.
What are your fondest memories of the University?
My fondest memories of Birmingham have to be Astronomy in the City – a monthly public event that encouraged local people of all backgrounds to come learn about our research, see our facilities and interact with us. Although it was hard work, it was great fun to organise and is a great example of our teamwork and passion!
Did you get involved in any extracurricular activities as a student?
I was involved and helped setup the Astronomy in the City public evenings at the University. The activity helped bring the group together and work as a team along with the local community and the University Astronomical Society (AstroSoc). It was also great to be giving back to the public and inspiring young people to study STEM subjects.
“My advice to current students is drink lots of coffee! And try to get into as much outreach as you can. Not only will it help you understand your topic better, it's great to educate the public and they will appreciate it and overall it looks great on your CV.”