Tell us a bit about yourself – what stage of your PhD are you in and what’s your project about?
I’m a third-year PhD student at CVSSP at the University of Surrey. My PhD is in computer vision & graphics, but I am part of a wider research centre with expertise in audio-visual machine perception. My research involves using multi-camera broadcast footage of sports, and using this data to synthesise new virtual camera viewpoints – and doing this in virtual and augmented reality.
What does a typical day or week look like for you?
My PhD has really taken the form of a typical 9-5 job. I spend the majority of my time coding at my desk in my office – although I could equally do this from home, as I am now during the COVID crisis. Working in a computer graphics group means occasionally I work in our performance capture lab to capture datasets or create immersive media demos. And like any PhD student I get the usual additional perks like going to conferences and teaching undergraduates.
What’s one thing that you’ve enjoyed the most during your PhD?
Either getting to travel for conferences, or getting to demonstrate my work. Conferences are a great way to keep up-to-date on your field, but also great fun. And demonstrating your work (in my case in the form of virtual reality experiences), is a great way to prove to yourself that your work is actually interesting to other people!
What’s been the most challenging part of it?
A PhD can be very challenging for many reasons. I found the biggest challenge was coping with the pressures that come with a PhD; the time limit, and expectations on when and where to publish, among other things.
Where do you see yourself 5 years after completing your PhD?
There is lots of exciting work taking place in my field in industry, so I would most likely seek a job in a company that matches my interests.
What’s one piece of advice that you’d offer students that are thinking of doing a PhD?
Don’t pick a PhD for the sake of doing a PhD. Make sure you take the time to find a project and supervisor that really suit you. I didn’t take my own advice, but I was lucky to end up in a PhD that I really enjoy with a great supervisory team, but it is best to take the time to think about what you are really interested in working on for three years.
What makes your university a good place to study?
The University of Surrey has a great atmosphere, a nice campus, and a really great support structure for its PhD students – as evidenced this year during lockdown. The Centre for Vision Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP) specifically, is a great place to undertake a PhD in machine learning or machine perception, as it has a very diverse range of research groups all with their own area of expertise. And we also have great Christmas parties.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love playing the piano, and during the lockdown I have recently taken up sketching. In a broader sense, anything that will take my mind off my research for a little while.
Want to learn more about Lewis?
Check out his website and University Department page, and follow him on LinkedIn and Google Scholar using the links below: