A day in the life of…Le An Ha

Le An HaMy name is Le An Ha. I am a senior lecturer at the RGCL. I came to Wolverhampton in 2000 from Vietnam to pursue a PhD. Since finishing my PhD, I have been working at the research group until now (2015). My son was born here. So if you ask me whether the RGCL is a good place to work, or whether Wolverhampton is a good place to live, you have your answers already.

My main duty is to develop software that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) for a variety of applications, including language identification, part-of-speech tagging, parsing, automatic MCQ question generation, automatic scoring, semantic search etc. It seems a lot, but actually all of these applications are built using a few fundamental NLP technologies. My day begins at around 9:30am, and finishes whenever I feel I need to stop (i.e. around 7pm, and that includes lunch break and gym break). During the day, I write and test programs, collect data, read papers, write papers, develop research proposals, attend seminars and so on. I get pretty excited when getting good results, and a little bit down otherwise. Working in NLP is working with human creativity: we never know with 100% certainty what a person would say/write next. I also get excited when reading an interesting piece of research, and I get eager to try it out. During term time, I also give a few lectures about things that I find extremely useful in the field.

For me, Wolverhampton is a good place to live. It is a quiet city, but very close to Birmingham, if you like a bit of activity. It is also very close to several international airports: Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, if you want to go abroad. It has several nice parks, for example West Park, and Bantock Park. The other day, I only just discovered that you can practice your swing (as in Golf) in Bantock park, although I have been here for quite a while. If you want a splash, Wolverhampton has a mini water park, just joking :), it actually is a swimming centre with flumes, wave machine, rapids, steam room and sauna. It has several shopping malls, and supermarkets that you can find almost anything. It has very good transport links to everywhere (direct trains to Edinburgh, London, Oxford, and Aberystwyth). The people are nice, and the speed of life is slower than in big cities. Of course it is not Auckland, Vienna, or Vancouver, but it is pretty much OK.