Thursday, August 27, 2015

HLF2015 / Foghor Tanshi – This Year’s Women In Technology Pass-It-On Award Winner and HLF Attendee

This blog post originates from the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Blog. The 3rd Heidelberg Laureate Forum is dedicated to mathematics and computer sciences, and takes place August 23-28, 2015. Abel, Fields, Turing and Nevanlinna Laureates will join the forum and meet 200 selected international young researchers.

The Anita Borg Institute is a non-profit organization "on a quest to accelerate the pace of global innovation by working to ensure that the creators of technology mirror the people and societies who use it." For many years, ABI has supported women in technology through programs like the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and through research.

One of ABI's initiatives is called Systers, originally a mailing list for women in systems computing and now a community for all women in technology. Today, Systers donate money to help supportPass-It-On Awards, "intended as means for women established in technological fields to support women seeking their place in the fields of technology." Each award winner has a moral obligation to somehow pass the benefits of the award on, broadening the its impact.

One of this year's Pass-It-On winners is Foghor Tanshi, a Nigerian researcher currently teaching at the Federal University of Petroleum Resources. Tanshi received financial support for travel to this year's Heidelberg Laureate Forum, where she hopes to launch her research career.

I asked Tanshi a few questions about her involvement with computer science, and would like to share some of her answers here.

Image courtesy of Foghor Tanshi

Gail Carmichael: Why did you get interested in computer science?

Foghor Tanshi: Because it is a field that easily finds application in a variety of other fields of endeavour. This particularly appeals to me because I enjoy applying my knowledge to new challenges.

GC: What is your research area? What made you interested in it?

FT: I have broad interests in machine learning applications in natural language processing and robotic motion and vision. This was inspired by the most basic need for machines – they make work easier. I am therefore interested in these interconnected research areas because they enable the development of collaborative and assistive technologies for humanity, e.g language-based teaching aids, human-robots collaborative manufacturing systems, etc.

GC: You also have an interest in computer science education. Can you tell me more about that?

FT: I am presently a computer science educator and plan to continue for most of my life because I am interested in inspiring – by any available means – more students (especially female Nigerian students) to use its techniques to solve problems. This is because of the fact that computer science tends to play an important role in the achievement of flexible solutions.

GC: What made you want to come to HLF?

FT: As one pursuing a career in research, it promises an opportunity to network and acquire vital information from Laureates in computer science and mathematics that would launch the next stage of my career. It would also provide an opportunity to share my research and meet potential collaborators, partners, mentors and friends.

GC: What was the role of the Systers Pass-It-On award in your ability to attend HLF?

FT: The Systers PIO enabled me make pre-travel and travel arrangements towards attending the forum.

GC: What are you most looking forward to at HLF?

FT: To re-live several years of knowledge and experience through the laureates. This would mean learning as much as possible within a short period of time; wisdom (for navigating a research career) that they acquired in a lifetime.


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