María Pérez-Ortiz

Postdoctoral researcher in Computer Science
Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge

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About Me

I'm Maria, welcome to my site :-)! I'm a postdoctoral researcher at the Computer Laboratory (University of Cambridge) and a research associate at Hughes Hall College, happily enjoying the British weather and doing research on the intersection of machine learning, computer graphics and psychophysics, under the supervision of Dr Rafal Mantiuk in the Rainbow group.

In my research I have mostly worked towards the development of new machine learning methods, but I have also been eager about applying these to different fields, mostly biomedicine and environmental applications. At the moment I'm working on human visual perception and colour.

My current interests can be summarised in: The future of AI and its impact on our society, the analysis of non standard data and how to transfer expert knowledge to AI. A few curiosities: I also hold a Master degree in Health Coaching, I have been dancing since I was 3 years old (ballet, flamenco, you name it!), I'm an avid reader (now very into audiobooks) and I believe my learning rate is quite high, but my forgetting rate is also extremely high (a defense mechanism not to overfit). I'm also social event organiser at Women@CL, I'm currently trying to write a book on AI for children and I run a reading group on ML at the Computer Lab.

I am the sum of the prints my parents left on me. Literature and mathematics. Logic and letters. Poetry and computers. I am between worlds, but not only those, also the ones that I have chosen. I won't try to define myself, because I haven't reached a static point yet, and I hope I never do.

CV Publications Google Scholar ResearchGate

My Skills

Machine learning 81%
Image processing (still learning!) 59%
Sarcasm and the art of procastination (also, still learning!)97%
Agh, procastination, such a beautiful word...

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Experience

Research

I joined a research group and started doing research when I was 20 years old. Since then I have collaborated with different institutions in more than 7 research projects and I have received 6 awards for my research.

Teaching

I have collaborated in different courses on machine learning, scientific programming and business statistics (either lecturing or preparing materials) and guided a few final degree projects.

Coding

Most of the code that I have developed is available online. One of the biggest code projects in which I have been involved is a machine learning framework in Matlab for ordinal regression (ORCA, which was initially part of my final BSc project degree but has been extended afterwards).

Writing

I enjoy writing very much. I have written/collaborated in more than 60 scientific papers (journal and conferences). I also write some non-scientific things in my spare time. However, I have no idea whatsoever of how to use either Word or Powerpoint, LaTeX and beamer rules!

Education

  • B.Sc in Computer Science, University of Córdoba (Spain), 2008-2011.
  • M.Sc in Intelligent Systems, University of Córdoba (Spain), 2011-2012.
  • Ph.D in Machine Learning, University of Córdoba (Spain), 2012-2015. Thesis available here.

Research experience

  • Associate researcher (06/2017-now), Rainbow group, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge (UK).
  • Visiting academic (02/2017-06/2017), School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham (UK).
  • Lecturer (09/2015-05/2017), Dpt. of Quantitative Methods, University Loyola Andalucía (Spain).
  • Research assistant (03/2014-08/2015), imaPing group, Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (Spanish National Research Council).
  • Visiting academic (01/2014-02/2014), Centro Singular de Investigación en Tecnologías de la Información (CITIUS), University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain).
  • Visiting academic (05/2013-08/2013), School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham (UK).
  • Research/teaching assistant (02/2012-02/2014), AYRNA group, Dpt. of Computer Science and Numerical Analysis, University of Córdoba (Spain).
  • Research assistant (06/2011-12/2011), AYRNA group, Dpt. of Computer Science and Numerical Analysis, University of Córdoba and ASTELLAS Pharma (Spain).

My research

  • Theoretical ML: Find below a summary of the research topics in which I have been working up to this date. Mostly, these comprise: Ordinal classification or regression (classifiers in which the labels follow a given order), learning kernel functions (for kernel classifiers, such as Support Vector Machines), imbalanced data (and more specifically how to create synthetic data to oversample the minority class), weakly supervised problems (e.g. semi-supervised learning) and image and time-series analysis.

  • Summary of my research topics

  • Applied ML: I have worked with a liver transplantation team to create a ML model for organ allocation (which is being tested in several hospitals in Spain now, to be used as decision support system), I have collaborated in a project with a team of the European Spacial Agency to model paleoclimate dynamics using time series analysis, I have worked in an agricultural research institute for creating a model to detect weeds using drones and image analysis, I have performed a study of the most influential factors for happiness using ML, I have studied also the use of ML to predict the production of renewable energies, and, most recently, I have worked with some colleagues on a project to create a ML based model to detect cancer skin and predict its stage. At the moment, I’m working on a project using psychophysics and ML to better understand human visual perception and image quality. Real-world data, yay!

Media coverage

Latest works and posts

Latest things that I have been working on, some of my writing and super exciting news!

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Reading group on machine learning for imaging Research

I have started a reading group on machine learning for imaging at the Computer Lab. Join us!

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Latest publications Research

Latest publications and selected list of academic works.

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Research projects Personal

Under construction!!

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Can we build truly intelligent machines? Personal

Some of my non-academic writing.

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The story of the little kernel... Personal

...that wanted to surf the equations of life! (introductory story to my PhD dissertation).

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Artificial intelligence and freedom Personal

... to appear as a book chapter.

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"For me, there is no comparable feeling to the one that creative activity produces, either in the form of science, art, literature or any other occupation of the human intellect. My message, mainly directed to the youth, is that if they feel attracted by science, they should follow this desire, as it won't cease to gift them with unmeasurable satisfactions. It is true that the moments of discouragement and frustration are also plentiful, but these are forgotten soon, whereas satisfactions are never forgotten." Severo Ochoa

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