MDS Spotlight: Meet Celine Liu, MDS Computational Linguistics, Class of 2021

It was during her undergrad internships at Microsoft and Hootsuite that Celine Liu witnessed the tremendous impact and potential that modern AI could have over solving global societal and business challenges.

Celine Liu Computational Linguistics

During the internship, Liu had the opportunity to build Natural Language Processing (NLP)-based machine learning (ML) systems. At the same time, she participated in a text mining research project with a group of public health researchers from UBC and BC Center for Disease Control to understand the landscape of digital public health research.

“I came to the realization that NLP models are the foundation towards building a strong AI,” she noted.

It was this experience that led Liu to want to pursue a career in data science.

During the final semester of her Bachelor of Computer Science from UBC, Liu consulted with Giuseppe Carenini, director of MDS Programs to learn more about the UBC Master of Data Science program.

Liu liked that the MDS program was built from scratch, covering a broad spectrum of the data science value chains. In addition, Liu liked that MDS students attended classes with their own cohorts, instead of sharing a classroom with students from other programs.

All this inquiry led Liu to the UBC MDS in Computational Linguistics program.

“The MDS-CL program offers a strong focus on applied NLP, a perfect match for what I was looking for. In addition to the in-class lectures, the capstone project of the program captured my interest instantly, as it offered an opportunity to apply data science skills to solve meaningful real-world problems,” explained Liu.

Liu added that while the MDS-CL program is an intensive one, it does “give you a good view of ML and NLP in general. Your efforts will be rewarded in job hunting and later stages of life if you lay a good foundation in each block.”

As well, Liu appreciated that the program provided the option to explore the theory side of computational linguistics through such things as additional reading materials and other resources from UBC’s computer science and linguistics departments.

One thing that Liu found useful was the opportunity to work on real-world problems (e.g.: Kaggle competition, internships, etc.) before the program got started and recommended that future students do the same, if they can. She also recommended that future students come with questions when entering the MDS-CL program.

During the 10-month program, Liu had the opportunity to volunteer for the Vancouver Women in Data Science conference, an event organized by two MDS Vancouver alumni. Liu helped organize the online events this year and found the experience really rewarding.

“I enjoyed working with colleagues who have a passion to help others navigate their careers in data science. I felt extremely fulfilled when the audience came to tell us how inspiring the events were to them,” she noted.

With the program now complete, Liu believed the MDS-CL program offered her      a holistic view of the classical and state-of-the-art NLP models, as well as a variety of general ML skills     .

Post-graduation, Liu will be joining Amazon as an Applied Scientist to build personalized customer shopping experience by applying ML technologies.

Celine’s Top 3 Tips on Succeeding in the MDS-CL Program:

  1. Take the chance of developing a course project and working on a capstone project on a topic that suits your interest. You will impress your interviewers by the depth of your understanding of a particular topic or model.
  2. Discuss course work and practice mock interviews with your peers. It can be very help for both of you.
  3. It is normal to feel stressed sometimes during the program. Talking to your peers will be helpful, as they might share the same feeling.

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