Alison is from Cork, which is located on the southern tip of the island of Ireland. She has always had an interest in the application of maths and science, so completing an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering at University College Cork (UCC) was the perfect path for her. Her ESTEEM thesis project was in the area of Big Data Analytics. She worked with a Northern Ireland-based company to commercialize one of their new products. This mix of academic and industry experience really showed her how the right combination of business, entrepreneurship, and research can impact the world.
Since completing the ESTEEM program Alison has returned to Ireland and is a PhD Candidate in Electrical Engineering at UCC. Her chosen research topic is "The use of Deep Neural Networks for Classification of Physiological Signals". This topic will build upon the big data skills she gained while completing her ESTEEM master's thesis. Her background in electrical engineering, coupled with her year working on data analytics in Notre Dame, are what inspired her to choose this research topic. While at Notre Dame she worked closely with SAP and attended many of their events. By meeting with different professionals in the big data world she was able to see the vast influence research and training in this area could have.
She will be conducting her studies as part of a wider research group known as INFANT, based at UCC. This group uses advanced biomedical technology to monitor physiological signals of premature babies and thus increase their survival rates. INFANT have connections with some large maternity hospitals in Europe, and their engineering designs are already being used in some of these facilities.
Before completing her master's thesis, a PhD in data processing would have seemed impossible to Alison. It was only through moving outside of her comfort zone and making the most of each opportunity presented while at Notre Dame that she gathered the interest and confidence to pursue this topic further. The most valuable thing she learned over her ESTEEM year was to grasp every opportunity, attend as many events as possible, participate in all challenges, and take the time to speak and listen to others.
Alison is hugely thankful to all the people who allowed her to complete this life-changing year at Notre Dame, and to all the friends she made along the way.