15. May 2023

Growing up in Academia with Gemma Roig

Gemma Roig

Gemma Roig

What is it to be a scientist? How does one become a scientist? Growing Up in Academia is a conversation series with academics at different levels of their career focusing on the sometimes short, sometimes long and winding roads behind the “official CV”.

Each event features an open conversation (interview) with a different faculty member, representing the broad spectrum of academic life. We will cover topics such as dealing with expectations (your own and others’), the role of luck/coincidence in scientific discovery, impostor syndrome, procrastination, and conflicts with advisors. Join us for a conversation about the human factors that universally inform the profession, but that too often remain unspoken. These events will be hosted and presented by Lucia Melloni (Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics). 

On Monday, May 15, 6 p.m. CET, Growing Up in Academia features Gemma Roig, Professor at the Computer Science Department at Goethe University Frankfurt.

This Growing Up in Academia session is a hybrid event: you can attend on-site at our Institute (no registration required) or online via Zoom. Please register for the online event by using this link.

The Official CV

Gemma Roig is a professor at the computer science department in the Goethe University Frankfurt since January 2020 and member of the hessian.ai. She also holds an honorary position as research affiliate at MIT. Before, she was an assistant professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. She conducted her postdoctoral work at MIT in the Center for Brains Minds and Machines, with Prof. Tomaso Poggio as her faculty host. She was also affiliated at the Laboratory for Computational and Statistical Learning, which is a collaborative agreement between the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She pursued her doctoral degree in Computer Vision at ETH Zurich. Previous to that, she was a research assistant at the Computer Vision Lab at EPFL in Lausanne, at the Department of Media Technologies at Ramon Llull University in Barcelona, and at the Robotics Institute at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Her research aim is to build computational models of human vision to understand its underlying principles, and to use those models to build applications of artificial intelligence.


The Unofficial CV

Gemma was born in Catalonia, where she pursued her bachelor and master degrees in telecommunication engineering at the Ramon Lull University in Barcelona. There, a random event completely changed the course of her life.

A friend told her about an announcement by a former student, now a professor at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), offering a master thesis in computer vision in his research group. Gemma applied and got the opportunity to pursue her studies in the United States.

At CMU, she was fascinated by the complexity of algorithms required to teach machines how to recognize objects, compared to the ease with which humans accomplish the same task.

To deepen her understanding of the topic, she applied and obtained a fellowship to conduct research in computer vision at the École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.

She then earned her PhD in computer vision at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. While her research was exploring how a machine would recognize objects, Gemma fantasized about an algorithm as powerful as human vision. To further explore this idea, she took some introductory courses to neuroscience and human vision.

Thanks to this new perspective, she obtained a postdoctoral position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at the Center for Brains Minds and Machines (CBMM), where she investigated the connection of AI and brain science. During a presentation in Boston by the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) to attract faculty candidates, she met her future spouse and interviewed for a position at SUTD, which she was subsequently awarded.

Gemma then moved to Singapore, where she established her research group in computational vision and AI. While her tenure was proceeding successfully, she faced a new challenge when her spouse was offered a permanent position in Germany. Despite the difficulties of uprooting their lives once again, they felt drawn to the opportunity to be closer to their families and decided to make the move.

Gemma was able to secure another tenure position at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. Since then, she gave birth to her son and has been promoted to full professor.

During her journey she embraced the flow of events and accepted the unpredictability of her choices, which lead to unexpected opportunities. By following her instincts and remaining open to new experiences, Gemma has been able to pursue an academic career, while building a fulfilling personal life.

The event will be held on Zoom. Pleaso note the Data Protection Information Regarding Zoom Webinars.