Student Stories: Joshua Wakefield shares his Summer 2021 CDT Intern experience

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The skills I have gathered during the internship have proven vital, especially as I now produce an independent piece of research for my final year project and seek to apply for postgraduate research...


My Journey

I’m currently studying Computer Science with the University of Liverpool.  Since beginning my undergraduate degree I have pursued opportunities that would enable me to experience working in research, as I have always felt this area would be a good fit for me; so, when the opportunity to apply for an internship arose, I didn’t hesitate. Whilst there were many projects that piqued my interest, those listed by the DA CDT were of particular note as they had an emphasis on the practical applications as well as theoretical. Further, the CDT’s range of data science-oriented research appealed to me. Given that I had developed an interest in machine learning techniques, and I had already begun to specialise in this subject through my chosen modules, it seemed like a perfect fit. Thankfully, my application was successful, and I was able to spend the summer of 2021 expanding and applying my knowledge.

My Project

My research involved understanding and applying natural language processing techniques to academic literature to identify the types of inference problems that MCMC algorithms are commonly applied to. The output of the project would inform decisions about which applications should be considered by Big Hypotheses, with the explicit aim of maximising the project's impact through the design of a portfolio of common Bayesian inference applications. The project later expanded to include developing an active learning process that would aid with the labelling of the literature.

My Experience at the CDT

As an intern at the CDT, I was warmly welcomed and treated as though I was a true member of the group. As such I felt that my work was treated seriously and with respect. Being a member of the CDT included attending weekly meetings where each attendant would share their project’s progress, which was a great opportunity to learn from a range of experts and be introduced to new and exciting concepts that I could then apply to my own work. Further, if I ever needed help, I was encouraged to ask for it as there was always someone who could provide the extra knowledge I needed to progress.

Over the course of the project, I had the opportunity to experience the key aspects of being a researcher. For example, before beginning any form of implementation, I would first conduct a literature review to identify existing work solving similar problems, which resulted in my ability to read academic literature being greatly improved. During implementation of a solution, I could then put into practice what I had learned on my degree course, analysing, and evaluating different algorithms on real data. For the final output of the project, I produced a summative report, outlining the work I had done. The skills I have gathered during the internship have proven vital, especially as I now produce an independent piece of research for my final year project and seek to apply for postgraduate research.

My experience at the CDT has been greatly positive and has provided further assurance that pursuing a career in research is the right path for me. I would encourage anyone with an interest and passion for data science to apply and experience a professional research environment with welcoming and supporting people.


Visit the CDT’s Internships page for current opportunities.


The Distributed Algorithms CDT at the University of Liverpool engages its students in impactful, cutting-edge and diverse research, allowing them to collaborate and develop their skills within the university’s data science community. Find out more about our work