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Meet our alumni: Oana Tifrea-Marciuska


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Oana Tifrea-Marciuska now works at Bloomberg part of the Graph Analytics team. She read for her DPhil between 2012 and 2016 and is one of the co-founders of the Oxford Women in Computer Science Society.

What course did you study here and when?

I read for my Oxford DPhil between 2012 and 2016 researching Personalised Search for the Social Semantic Web under the supervision of Professor Thomas Lukasiewicz. Personalised Search aims to adapt search results based on the tastes, interests, and user needs.

What was your background before that?

I am originally from Romania, where I completed my BSc in Computer Science at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University. It was during this time that I also took part in the Erasmus programme and spent some time working at the Lille University of Science and Technology in France. After the completion of my degree I enrolled in the European Master’s Program in Computational Logic, studying one year at the Technical University of Vienna in Austria and one year at the Free University of Bolzano in Italy.

What attracted you to studying Computer Science as a subject?

I started programming at the age of 14, while in high school in Romania. I was fascinated that you were able to make computers do things for you. At the time my dream was to make computers write my homework so that I didn’t have to do it! I was always curious about how I would go about making a program do things for me and as I enjoy programming and Maths I decided to study Computer Science.

What aspects of the course you studied here did you particularly enjoy?

My DPhil research offered me the freedom to explore and learn a range of new skills. In my first year, I took courses, authored research proposals and also started to conduct my own research. I also had the opportunity to present my work to people from academia and industry at AI conferences at venues in amazing parts of the world.

As a co-founder of a startup during my studies I received funding from the University of Oxford Innovation Fund to help create the company. I took courses on building your own business and so pitched ideas at various events. I also used some of the data in my DPhil research.

Another great opportunity I had was to be one of the co-founders of the Oxford Women in Computer Science Society (OxWoCS), which supports and promotes women in Computer Science. I learned a lot on how to set up a society, how to get industry and internal support, set up interesting events, and I met amazing role models. The society is still running today and I can see how beautifully the society has grown and matured, I feel very grateful to have been involved in the beginning of such a wonderful project. Oana Tifrea-Marciuska

What did you do when you left Oxford?

I had funding from the EPSRC Doctoral Prize and an Alan Turing Institute spin-off research project, which enabled me to undertake postdoctoral research at the Alan Turing Institute on semantic parsing. After a year, I decided to go into industry and took a research engineer position with Bloomberg’s AI Group in London. I am now part of the Graph Analytics team, which develops and maintains the Bloomberg Knowledge Graph and its value-add analytics. The team collaborates with academics by publishing papers, providing research funding, participating in conferences and program committees, hosting interns, and peer-reviewing scientific articles.

How has the course you studied here helped you in your current profession?

My studies at Oxford helped me be an independent researcher. During your DPhil, you’re not just learning about your research topic, you’re also learning core skills that apply to jobs both in and out of academia, such as: written and spoken communication, project management and organisation, leadership, critical thinking, collaboration, analysis and problem solving, research and information management, as well as self-management. What is most dear to my heart is that I continued to work on a semantic web-related topic in my current job.

What advice would you give students on applying their knowledge in the workplace, when they leave?

Make sure you can show an employer that you have been building your CV, including doing research, publishing, and developing your professional skills. Try to find a job that you enjoy and you will be very happy with every day. During my DPhil studies, I tried to explore many things and this allowed me to understand better what I would want from my job in the future.

What would the student you have thought about what you are currently doing – would you have been surprised, proud, amazed?

I would have been grateful of how well things turned out for me as during my time as a student, I sometimes had a feeling of uncertainty about my future. I am so grateful that my DPhil at Oxford gave me so many skills as well as confidence that I am able to use in my current job at Bloomberg.