Introducing… Andy Smith
What is your name?
What is your background?
I recently joined the Research Engineering Group at the Turing as a Research Data Scientist.
Before joining the Turing, I worked for a small charity who provide mapping and information management support to humanitarian operations for major international emergencies. Over the years, my roles included everything from fixing the printers to leading teams in post-disaster environments, juggling both the operational and analytical sides of the work.
Prior to that, I completed my PhD at Newcastle University, exploring flood risk in the UK, modelling the rainfall scenarios likely to cause the most widespread floods.
In one sentence, what is your role on the project?
I’m still finding out – I hope to get stuck into the map analysis aspects alongside testing and ensuring the robustness of the code.
What excites you about the project?
One of the things that attracted me to working for REG was the interdisciplinary nature of their work. Despite knowing that, it felt like a bit of a culture shock when someone suggested that I should join this project. It is fantastic to find ways I can usefully contribute to an area of research that is so far outside my prior experience.
What challenges do you see ahead?
My impression is that with the vast volume of newly digitised data available to this project, the biggest challenge is simply to constrain our ambitions to what time will allow, rather than all of the potentially fascinating avenues that the data could allow us to follow.
What’s the last (non-work) book you read, exhibition or performance you saw?
I currently have two books on the go. One is “The Address Book” by Deirdre Mask. It sets out the history of this little, almost incidental, piece of data, exploring how our addresses both reflect our society and the surprising ways they have helped shape it. I guess that’s a bit close to being a work book?
The other book I’m reading is “With the End in Mind” by Kathryn Mannix. It discusses how we live in our final days, the role of families, relationships, attitudes, and medicine (especially palliative care). In much the same way that antenatal classes guide us through birth and the beginning of life, Mannix uses a series of suitably anonymised anecdotes to discuss the patterns common at the end of life. It is both direct in its subject and incredibly sensitive. Profoundly moving – I recommend it but have something handy to dry your eyes.