Meet Dr. Karin Sim, Iconic’s newest Machine Translation Scientist
Machine Translation is one field that remains robust in these uncertain times. With business continuing to grow in the legal sector, the life sciences, and high-tech, so does our team of experts. Iconic is pleased to announce the addition of Dr. Karin Sim as our newest Machine Translation Scientist. Karin hails from Scotland and will be working remotely from her home in Glasgow.
We recently chatted with Karin to learn more about her and her new role at Iconic.
Hi Karin, welcome to Iconic! Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
My first career was in languages: I studied interpreting and translating and worked as a conference interpreter for the European Parliament in Brussels. I then did an MSc in IT and subsequently worked as a software engineer for a number of years, dropping to just 2 days a week when my kids were little. Once they were at school, I had a bit more time and I started an online course in Natural Language Processing with Coursera. I found it really exciting, as it brought together both sides, language and programming. Then I learnt more about recent progress in machine translation, which had previously been unviable. I became so interested that I decided to step back and study machine translation, and was fortunate enough to be offered a PhD position with Lucia Specia at the University of Sheffield. Since then I have moved back to industry, as I like solving real problems in a practical way.
Describe your role at Iconic:
I am involved in training customer specific machine translation engines, which are adapted to the task at hand. The use cases vary, and we work to leverage machine translation technology to solve customer problems. The information that we make available is in another language and could not be translated by humans at that scale and speed. Human translators will continue to be irreplaceable for high-quality translations, but for gaining insight into large amounts of archived data in another language, for example, machine translation comes into its own.
What attracted you to Iconic?
The fact that Iconic is at the cutting edge, bringing state-of-the art research to the client projects that they are actively working on! So many interesting ideas are tested out and if they prove useful they get integrated, which is very exciting! I like to feel that I am doing something worthwhile, and the use cases vary too, so that means the job is never boring.
What is your favorite aspect about being a Machine Translation Scientist?
The fact that we are building machine translation capability to solve real problems brings all the different facets of my experience together. I love being involved with languages again, and find that this is a great time to be in the machine translation field as it is moving so fast, with new research every few months.
It is interesting that at the moment, everyone is working from home, which might make your transition to joining the team a little tricky. But once you’re settled in with the team, it shouldn’t make much of a difference that you’ll be based in Glasgow, should it?
While it is strange starting a new job without having met everyone in person, actually given that mine is a remote role, it means we are all in the same position. There are daily standups, which is a great way for us to be connected as a team. They are also very active on group chats. I think it is fortunate for Iconic to be flexible and incorporate remote working, even without a pandemic!
What are your hobbies, interests and passions?
I am a foodie, and love cooking. I also enjoy reading, cycling, and I run regularly. I grew up in Africa and have spent some time working and studying in various countries; now I love travelling and learning about different cultures.