Ilaria joined The Hyve’s Real World Data team last November 2018, shortly after her graduation from UC Berkeley (USA) where she followed the Masters of Bioengineering program. She also has a strong passion for photography, a skill she can undoubtedly put to good use when reporting on meetings she attends on behalf of The Hyve.
Here is her story.
Can you tell me about your background?
‘I went to school here in The Netherlands. Then I moved to St. Andrews (UK), where I did my undergraduate. I studied Physics and Mathematics. Throughout my time in St. Andrews, I did various internships in the field of biophysics and mathematical biology as I was interested in this intersection between physics, maths, and biology. Then I went on to do a Masters in Bioengineering at UC Berkeley (USA), from which I graduated in May last year. It was a professionalizing programme that balanced technical and entrepreneurial skills’
How did these studies help you develop your IT skills?
‘I found more of an opportunity to develop my IT-skills during my undergraduate than in my masters, when I got to do a little bit of programming and modelling. During my studies at Berkeley I got to work with a research group at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. That was a bit of a different field, but still gave me more experience in modelling.’
How did you get to know The Hyve?
‘It’s kind of a funny story, because when I was looking for a job I was speaking with a friend of a friend. He’s working in San Francisco and he had met Kees at an event. He told me about The Hyve, the interesting work that was going on there, and that it was a young company. By that time I had moved back to The Netherlands and I thought it quite funny that I was suggested a company in Utrecht by someone from California. Anyway, It resulted in a meeting with Kees and Harry and now I’m here.’
So you did not apply for a vacancy?
‘No, there was only a developer vacancy when I looked on The Hyve’s page. That was not suited to my interests and my skills, so I reached out more generally. Initially I just wanted to learn what The Hyve was about, Kees’ story and his experience in bioinformatics and then an opportunity came out of this.’
Can you describe your day-to-day activities at The Hyve?
‘No day is the same. What you do, really depends on the project you’re working on and what phase the project is in. But to give you an idea of what an average day looks like: you come into the office and have a couple of short meetings to catch up with your teammates and hear what everyone is up to. We discuss the status of the project, the goals for the week or for the day. From there, you start to work on the project that is currently your main objective. My work as a data engineer and consultant is really quite varied. In the earlier stages of a project, it is all about determining the requirements of the work and how we can give a client the most value. Later on in the project is the technical implementation, which is where the data modelling and engineering work comes in. Throughout the day you always have opportunities to interact with people from other teams, this is one of my favourite things because you get to know everyone in the company.’
Can you explain more about what you do as a consultant?
‘This consulting part of The Hyve is rather new. We’ll go on site to see our clients and discuss the IT issues they face and how they would like to improve their IT systems. Usually, it’s about making their IT and their data more FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable).’
What projects does the Real World Data team work on?
‘Part of the Real World Data team works on RADAR-base, other team members focus more on OHDSI and OMOP, so there is kind of a split between them. It is very common though at The Hyve to work on different projects within your area at the same time.’
What development in your field do you find exciting?
‘Something that I’m really excited about, is the idea of implementing FAIR principles across different companies. I’m especially keen to see how this is going to develop and how it’s going to make an impact in the field, because I think it holds a lot of potential. We’re starting off with the pharma world, assisting companies in making their work practices more FAIR. I was recently reading an article about the benefits of FAIR, how it’s going to make clinical trials much more effective. I think it’s really exciting when you start to see that what you’re doing has tangible benefits and effects’.
What do you like to do when you're 'off-duty'?
‘I’m really into photography. During my undergraduate I was working for a photography company on the side of my studies. Being part of a team of creative people was really cool. I’ve done event photography, along with photoshoots and portraiture. I’m trying to keep up the passion. I mostly do it now when I travel or when I feel inspired on off-days. I love taking photos, I love editing photos, sharing them on my photography website (ilariamaresi.com). It’s a big passion of mine!’
(A photo of Glenfinnan Viaduct on Ilaria's website)