A passion for artificial intelligence inspired one of Deakin’s PhD candidates to help machines understand and predict human behaviour through research that’s set for positive impact.
We sat down with Romero Morais to talk about his Higher Degree by Research (HDR) journey.
Why did you choose to study a PhD at Deakin?
I chose Deakin because it has world-class researchers in the fields like artificial intelligence and computer vision.
What was your PhD research project about?
My PhD project focused on understanding and predicting human behaviour from visual data. The idea is to infuse human behavioural traits into the design of our models and use them on applications of interest. For example, in one of my projects, we predicted the future trajectory of a person and used this information to identify suspicious behaviour.
What have you achieved that you never thought possible before beginning your PhD?
I think the biggest achievement of my PhD has been to learn how to be resilient. Failure is a constant part of the process and overcoming the hurdles along the way requires a lot of hard work and patience. Being able to get positive results out of problems you have been working on for a long time is really rewarding and opens up your eyes to bigger challenges.
How is your PhD helping you make an impact on society?
My PhD focused on human-centric problems in computer vision and so has many positive applications to society. For example, in the next 10 years, I believe household assistant robots will be commonplace and thus they will require strong capabilities in understanding what we do in order to be able to assist us with our next actions.
How has Deakin supported you to achieve your goals?
Deakin has provided me with excellent support during my PhD studies. Weekly catchups with my supervisors have proved to be very helpful to keep me focused and not lose track of my work. Deakin also provided state-of-the-art computing systems and facilities, and that has been very important to allow me to plan and execute my experiments. In our lab, we also have weekly reading clubs that provide us with a view of other areas of research and to easily interact with people working on other interesting problems.
What are your future career ambitions? How has your PhD helped you realise these?
In the future, I plan to continue my work on human-centric computer vision and be a leading researcher in this area. My PhD was just the start and I intend to explore new areas such as common-sense reasoning in machines. At present machines are really good at answering ‘what’ questions but not so much in answering ‘why’ questions.
How would you describe your job now?
I’ve recently submitted my PhD and while waiting for feedback I’m currently working as an Associate Research Fellow with Deakin University’s Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A2I2). My job is research-focused and I get to work on exciting projects in collaboration with other groups. For example, one such problem is to identify infants with high risk of neural disorders by analysing their body movements. I also have the chance to work on my own research and continue the work I started during my PhD.
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