Harriet Nyanchama Ocharo, 31

Research Scientist

Hitachi Research and Development Group

Harriet obtained a doctorate in Information Science at the age of 30 and has been working for Hitachi in Tokyo, Japan since April this year. Her research has been on best practices in Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) along with its application in education, particularly methods to improve the skills of students.

“My interests lie in applied AI research: The deployment of machine learning algorithms to real-world systems,” she says. “I research on the best practices for the entire ML life cycle, from the identification of a business goal all the way to solution deployment and continuous monitoring and improvement.”

Her journey has been one of excellence, earning a First Class Honours degree in computer science at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). She holds a Master’s degree from Strathmore University, specialising in mobile communication and innovation. This involved development of mobile applications, entrepreneurship, leadership and development. She completed the course in 2014.

In the same year she was involved in a project on the review of ICT policies and disaster recovery plans, business continuity plans, change management processes, logical access controls, help desk and intranet functionality and IT operations.

"My interests lie in applied AI research: The deployment of machine learning algorithms to real-world systems."

She went on to do a PhD in Information Science at Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology between 2015 and 2018. Specifically, she studied how to apply AI in education. Her thesis focused on using natural language processing (NLP) and ML algorithms to help graduate students improve their revision skills.

“My PhD research area was in the application of AI in education,” she says. “In my post doctorate research, I applied Deep Learning Methods to estimate learner engagement by analysing video data.”

She has also written several academic papers on the subjects of ML and AI in education as well.

–Geoffrey Irungu