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Breakthroughs in NLP research are creating huge value for people every day, supercharging technologies from search engines to chatbots. The work that makes these breakthroughs possible is done in two silos – academia and industry. Researchers in both of these silos produce work that advances the field, and frequently collaborate to generate innovative research.

Contributing to this research is why we have such a heavy R&D focus at AYLIEN, with six full-time research scientists out of a total team of 16. The research team naturally has strong ties with academia – some are completing PhDs with the work they are carrying out here, while others already hold one. Academia is also represented on our advisory board and in the great people who have become our mentors.

To further deepen these ties with academia, we’re delighted to announce our first Industry Fellowship in association with Science Foundation Ireland, with Dr. Ian Wood of NUIG. Ian will be based in our Dublin office for one year starting in September. SFI’s goal with this fellowship is to allow industry and academia to cross-pollinate by exchanging ideas and collaborating on research. This placement will allow us to contribute to and learn from the fantastic work that Insight Centre in NUIG are doing, and we’re really excited to open up some new research windows where our team’s and Ian’s interests overlap.

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Ian is a postdoctoral researcher at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, with an incredibly interesting background – a mixture of pure Mathematics, Psychology, and Deep Learning. His research is focused on how the emotions of entire communities change over time, which he researches by creating language models that detect the emotions people express on social media. For his PhD, he analyzed Tweets produced by pro-anorexia communities over three years and tracked their emotions, and showed that an individual’s actions are much more driven by their surrounding community than is generally accepted. Continuing this research, Ian now specializes in finding new ways to build Machine Learning and Deep Learning models to analyze emotions in online communities.

Ian’s placement is mutually beneficial on two levels. First, Ian’s experience in building language models for emotion analysis is obviously beneficial to us, and we can offer Ian a cutting edge research infrastructure and the opportunity to learn from our team in turn. But we’re also really excited at the possibility of opening up new research areas based on common interests, for example by building on existing research between Ian and our PhD student, Sebastian. Ian’s research into reducing dimensionality in data sets crosses over with Sebastian’s work into Domain Adaptation in a really interesting way, and we’re excited that this could open up a new research area for us to work on.

Outside of AYLIEN, Ian also speaks four languages, he was a professional musician (but that was in a previous life, he tells us), and he’s also sailed across the Atlantic in a small boat, so he’ll hopefully have some input into the next AYLIEN team-building exercises…

Welcome to the team, Ian!

If you want to find out more about the Fellowship, check out the LinkedIn group, and if your research interests overlap with ours in any way, drop us a line at – we love hearing from other researchers!