Kenyan Lecturer Makes History at Cambridge University

  • Taita Taveta University Lecturer Peter Ochieng appointed for a role at Cambridge University
    Taita Taveta University Lecturer Peter Ochieng appointed for a role at Cambridge University.
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  • Kenyan lecturer Dr Peter Ochieng, who teaches at the Taita Taveta University, has made history at the University of Cambridge following his appointment as the inaugural DeepMind Academic Fellow in Computer Science.

    In a statement dated May 25, the United Kingdom-based institution noted that the lecturer was joining its department due to the progress he has made in his research in natural language processing, biomedical ontologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

    He became the first appointee for the programme after leading British artificial intelligence company DeepMind made a donation to the University.

    The institution further noted that Ochieng was keen to leverage work in areas that help the development of more apps in human and veterinary medicine as well as agritech that could benefit people living in Africa.

    Buildings at the University of Cambridge in UK
    Buildings at the University of Cambridge in UK.
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    Accepting his appointment, the lecturer expressed his excitement about transitioning to the UK where he looked forward to interacting with high-ranking researchers.

    "I am so excited to have this new role and to be able to come to Cambridge to meet new people and work with researchers who have expertise in different dimensions to me. We want apps to use local languages so that people are able to benefit from them properly," he stated.

    Ochieng further disclosed that he was interested in exploring ways to compress the very large AI models used in apps so that they can easily be used on mobile phones over the mobile internet.

    "One of the areas I will be looking at is how we can compress these huge models so that they can fit in a resource-constrained platform.

    "I'll be looking at a process called diffusion through which we can train a small model to learn from a much larger AI model. A pre-requisite of this role is collaboration so I’ll be looking for colleagues I can collaborate with across different domains," he added.

    The new DeepMind Fellowship is in addition to DeepMind Scholarships here that are supporting postgraduate students from backgrounds currently underrepresented in computer science.

    The existing scholarship programme targets students from groups underrepresented in computer science in order to pursue postgraduate education in the field.

    Professor Ann Copestake, who is the head of the department, praised Ochieng's research noting that it would benefit researchers in the institution.

    "His research is very exciting and there are groups both in this Department and across the University whose work is relevant to his and who will benefit from the collaboration. I am very grateful to DeepMind for their generosity in funding this important role," concluded Copestake.

    Entrance into Taita Taveta University
    Entrance into Taita Taveta University.
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