As part of our in profile series, we spoke to Alina-Irina Serban, PhD Student at the AI for Healthcare Centre for Doctoral Training. Here, she tells us more about her research interests and what inspired her to pursue a PhD.
Introduce yourself – who are you and what do you do?
My name is Alina-Irina Serban and I am a final year PhD student in the AI for Healthcare Centre for Doctoral Training. My research focuses on applying machine learning algorithms on passive sensing technologies data to monitor changes in behaviour in households with dementia as part of the Care Research and Technology Centre in the Department of Brain Sciences.
Tell us about your career so far – when did you join the college, and where were you working/studying before this?
I moved to the UK in 2015 when I started my undergraduate degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at University of Westminster. My studies continued at Imperial College London for my Masters degree in Analogue and Digital Integrated Circuit Design during which I discovered a particular interest for using machine learning to healthcare related projects. I applied for a PhD from the AI for Healthcare CDT and nearly 4 years later I am finalising my PhD work.
Can you explain a bit more about your research interests and what initially sparked your interest in your current field?
My background research experience during my undergraduate individual project, and my master’s project sparked an interest and passion for smart home technologies and wearable devices that aim to actively monitor the elderly population’s physiological and physical data. This interest was also nourished by my personal motivation to monitor my grandparents who live in a remote location.
In my current research I am applying machine learning algorithms on passive sensing technologies data to monitor changes in behaviour in households with dementia. As part of the Care Research and Technology Centre at Imperial College London my algorithms are deployed to households with dementia for validation and to aid with the clinical prevention and intervention decisions. I am analysing changes in activity and door usage to understand changes in routine that are related to clinical events or concerning occurrences, like changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and events of going outside at night. One of my algorithms that is part of the monitoring process looks at events related to night-time safety and alerts the monitoring team about night-time going out events that could be related to wandering.
What aspect of your role are you most excited about?
My research has a real-time, real-life application for the people living with dementia and this allows me to see the outcomes of my work as I develop it. This is rewarding and provides the reassurance necessary that my research can help make a change in their lives.
When you are not working, what are your main passions and hobbies?
When I am not working towards my research I like to get in touch with my creative side. My hobbies revolve around theatre arts, singing and taking pictures of nature. I was even part of the Imperial drama society some time ago.
And finally – if you were stranded on a desert island but allowed one luxury item, what would it be?
A fully equipped luxurious camper with solar panels.