Introducing… Barbara McGillivray
What’s your name?
What’s your background?
I have an interdisciplinary background. I started off as a mathematician with a degree from the University of Firenze (Italy). Then I got a degree in Classics from the same university. Finally, I discovered Computational Linguistics, which was the area of my PhD at the University of Pisa.
After my PhD I worked as a language technologist in the Dictionaries division of Oxford University Press and then as a data scientist for the academic publisher Springer Nature.
I joined The Alan Turing Institute and the University of Cambridge as a Turing Research Fellow in April 2017 and have been developing a research programme for modelling how words change meaning over time. I also founded the Data Science and Digital Humanities special interest group at the Turing.
In one sentence, what is your role on the project?
As a Co-Investigator, I lead the Language Lab, responsible for developing computational models of language from the various textual sources of the project.
What excites you about the project?
Living with Machines is a great opportunity to see how historians and data science researchers can effectively work together in a large, truly interdisciplinary project, and push the boundaries of scholarship.
What challenges do you see ahead?
There are high expectations on what Living with Machines will deliver, especially given the diversity of backgrounds represented in the team. There may be misunderstandings and different expectations coming from different academic fields, so it will be interesting to see how we end up resolving them.
What’s the last (non-work) book you read, exhibition or performance you saw?
Recently I was particularly inspired by the last Cirque Du Soleil’s show in London, Totem, which is about human evolution. Beautiful scenography and amazing acrobatic skills.
Finally, where can people find out more about you and your work?
You can check out my page on the Turing website or on Twitter.