Dr Challoner’s High School & the University of York
MSc in Human-Centred Interactive Technologies, MEng in Electronic Engineering with Music Technology Systems
In the past I have worked doing database management and analysis (boring!) and also as a fishmonger in a supermarket (smelly!)
I am a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Computer Science at the University of York AND I’m doing my PhD degree there too
Department of Computer Science, University of York
Favourite thing to do in my job: I really like running experiments. But, the types of experiments that I run are probably not what you might expect because I run experiments on people! That sounds kind of scary, but I promise I don’t do anything nasty to them. The worst that happens to people in my experiments is that they might be a bit bored!
I try to understand why people find some technology hard to use and how we can make it better
My work is quite varied – I’m a Teaching Fellow at a University so a large part of my job is (obviously) teaching students about Computer Science. I teach my students how to make websites that are easy to use and about my research field of Human Computer Interaction.
Human Computer Interaction is all about understanding how we can make technology easy and fun for all people to use, including people that have disabilities like blindness and dyslexia.
Most recently I have been trying to understand how background music can be incorporated within technology to make people work more productively and faster. For example, I try to answer questions like… if you are listening to music with sung lyrics, do the words distract you so you can’t type accurately and fast? I’m still working on this particular question, so can’t tell you the answer yet I’m afraid!
My Typical Day
I really don’t have a typical day….
Well, my job is super varied which is why it’s really fun:
sometimes I’m lecturing 80 students about Computer Science
sometimes I’m running an experiment
sometimes I’m analysing data I’ve collected
sometimes I’m writing reports
quite often I’m eating cake
What I'd do with the prize money
I’d go and visit some schools and run an “introduction to computer science” workshop with as many students as possible!
Computer Science isn’t all about building computers, computer programmes and websites. In fact, that’s only a really tiny part of the area.
So, at my University we’ve developed a workshop that introduces people to Computer Science by having them design and develop a fairly simple website and then test the site to see if it is easy to use or not!
I would like to take the workshop into other schools to encourage people to think about working within the Computer Science field.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Excitable, interested & friendly
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
I went to a conference in Atlanta, in the USA, to talk to some other scientists. We had a big fancy dinner in the World’s Largest Aquarium (sooo many really cool fish!) where I got to sit next to someone who worked at NASA. It was a little intimidating at first, but also really fun and interesting. Plus… did I mention the awesome fish?
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
I went to an all girl’s high school where, at the time, it wasn’t possible to take classes in computing… That really annoyed me! And inspired me to want to become a computer scientist to show that the subject is really not just for the boys!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I really wasn’t very good at handing my homework in on time… so yes!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Oooh that’s didficult! I think I would probably become a music therapist if I couldn’t do this job any longer.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Green Day (and 5ive)
What's your favourite food?
Mexican! I loooooove Nachos :-)
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I once auditioned for the X Factor… That was pretty fun! Though, I didn’t get to meet Simon Cowell or anyone famous which was rather disappointing.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
Can I wish for more wishes? If not, I wish that they were still making new episodes of Friends, that I could have more cats, and…. I would wish for world peace, obviously.
Tell us a joke.
There are 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary, and those who don’t.