A new year full of science, discoveries and new approaches with both familiar and new companions is laying ahead of us. The MOSLA project had its kick-off meeting only in April last year. As we evolve, we stay curious about all that’s laying ahead.
As for this website, we will take looks behind the scenes: Talk more about what we’re actually doing, have glimpses how we’re doing it as well as further introduce our team. And we start right away!
In this interview, meet new to the team Georges Hattab, our Junior Research Group leader. Read about how he got to MOSLA, what he likes about his work and what more he’s passionate about.
Georges, you told me you’re from Paris. How did you end up in Marburg? Do you follow the science, so to say, or how do you decide where to go?
In general, I do not really think of where but more of the projects. If they seem interesting, my curiosity usually takes the best of me. I think it’s very important to stay curious. If you really insist, I don’t think that small cities are worse or better. I think you just have to find something that is charming for you or that works out for you. Marburg is a beautiful city with a really interesting cultural background.
What have you researched on before?
I’m actually finishing a couple of papers from my previous position. Most recently, I was working in computational medicine, specifically translational surgical oncology. My main task was to develop new methods and algorithmic approaches to enable Augmented Reality or AR in the operating room. AR is especially helpful for surgeons to confirm the resection line or where they should cut tissue or an organ due to cancer.
Other works that are in the pipeline pertain to materials science and virtual reality.
What do you find appealing about working with junior researchers?
I’ve developed my own algorithms and written a couple of papers but now I think it’s nice to pass on the torch and help junior researchers, e.g. PhD students, get their work out of the door and oversee the development of their work.
And I think the most important part as a junior PI is to foster an environment for exchange and collaboration so the students can come and talk to you and maybe even suggest a collaborator. I think for me personally it’s a constructive position to become a professor.
What do you like about the MOSLA project?
I would say the sexiness of the project for me was that it was bioinformatics, data analysis, data mining and also data visualization. Interdisciplinary research is quite important, I am keen on going back to bioinformatics and at the same time applying what I’ve learned from my experience.
I’ve to say this project leaves a bit of creative space for me to explore which representations are suitable to create a fitting visualization of the stored information within molecular and chemical compounds.
Speaking of, the task of your junior research group is to develop a web-platform for automatic analyses and visualization of biological and chemical cluster-storages. What will be the main concerns there?
I think the four keywords for this are the users, the analytics, the visualization and what we’re actually visualizing. “User” is the keyword that always needs to be in the back of our heads because at the end of the day we want someone to use this web-platform. The analytics aspect will result from analyzing data systematically after carefully evaluating which algorithms are better suited to decode the stored information.
In terms of visualization, the focus should be task specific. I think the most important questions pertain to defining this task. I can foresee the following questions: (a) What should be visualized, or which quantitative metrics best describe the decoding accuracy, (b) how we represent the relevant metrics and the information loss, if any, and (c), which parts should involve interactivity as a user’s attention and time are limited.
This indeed relates to what a user expects. We’ve to work closely with our collaborators to discuss relevant metrics and to discuss possible pitfalls and alternatives.
I imagine that the web-platform will not be for the masses; at least not at first. We’ll have to start with a working prototype to achieve a more generalizable approach. Public understanding is an important aspect that will have to come at a later stage.
Let’s talk a bit about you as a person. When it comes to your work and research: What do you enjoy the most?
What I especially enjoy is the creative aspect where we have the blackboard or whiteboard and we’re just talking about different ways to solve the problem. Besides enjoying the problem-solving-step and coming-up with ways to address a problem, I enjoy thinking of the how do we represent results and the how we actually communicate the information and the data. It’s for me a fundamental point, where both methodology and quantitative results intertwine to tell a story, this is essentially how scientists communicate what they’ve done.
Have you always been interested in things like this?
I’ve always had a visual side. Thanks to a creative childhood, I still enjoy sketching my ideas. I think I always had it but I never thought it would intermingle so much with my work.
What else do you enjoy, what are you passionate about, what are your hobbies?
I enjoy nature a lot. I cannot stress enough how much I actually just enjoy having a walk, or a hike, or even a small run in the woods. It simply feels better as there’s more oxygen in a forest. Somehow, it helps you cool down and come back to the rhythm of nature. I also enjoy bouldering and generally climbing.
Other creative things that I do are for instance writing and taking photographs. In general, writing is something that I try to do offline as well for my own private and personal life. Writing helps me lay out things in front of my eyes. The structuring aspect is also appealing.
Since it’s difficult to always find time for all hobbies, I mainly focus on personal health, like, nature and climbing.
Learn more about Georges Hattab on his Website.