“I want to be involved in research that helps people” – Meet Keaton, part of the “Our team” series

Keaton Sullivan is a PhD student in the AI Team who joined us just over three weeks ago. He’s been contributing to projects and making a considerable mark on the AI Team already!

We thought we would grab him for a chat to find out how he has found working in the team so far; what he has enjoyed; and any tips he would give to interns seeking to build up experience for their CV.

Hi Keaton, great to (virtually) meet you. You’re studying for a PhD at Ulster University, aren’t you? What did you study before starting your doctorate?

I studied a Bachelor’s in Computer Science at Ulster University and was delighted to achieve marks that enabled me to go straight into my PhD. I loved my time at University, the teachers are second to none and I thoroughly enjoyed the practical focus that Ulster University offered within the course.

I am delighted to be able to work with Datactics in a funded position as it means that I can support my sisters when they attend University (something I am looking forward to being able to do).

Why did you choose to study Computer Science at University?  

Whenever I was younger my grandmother bought me a laptop which spurred a fixation to learn everything about it. Later, I did an Extended Diploma which then led me to do a Bachelor’s in Computer Science at Ulster University. When I was in school, I thoroughly enjoyed the STEM subjects, but computers appealed to me because of their practical, challenging, and intriguing nature. 

I have always thought my strength is research which served me well throughout my Bachelor’s and has positioned me well undertaking my PhD. 

Keaton, tell me a bit about Datactics. How did you get involved here, what does your role look like and what are you most looking forward to?

My academic advisor introduced me to the company and pointed me towards the role. I met Fiona (Browne, Head of AI) and Stuart (Harvey, CEO) and they helped me understand a bit more about the team I’d be working with and what my role would look like – split between research and practical, hands-on work. I started a month earlier than originally planned and I have been made to feel very welcome since starting.Working with the team has been great so far as it is very collaborative.

From a social perspective, I look forward to getting involved with the social activity within the company particularly with the ‘Runners and Riders’ club due to my love for being active, in particular, climbing.

How have you found Datactics so far? 

It’s been great as there is a lot of independence. I am trying to help out as much as can. Dr Browne is incredibly understanding, nurturing, and a great mentor to have! I have learned so much from her already.

What brought you to AI?  

In University, I selected the hardest subjects I possibly could; if I found something challenging, I considered this as an opportunity to learn even more. Pushing myself to study these challenging topic areas helped me understand my direction a lot more and that is ultimately how I got here today. There have been a lot of new advances in AI within the industry; to be at the front of this is exciting.

If you had to pick an ideal role for yourself, what would it be? 

I want to be involved in research that helps people. I would love to be a part of making discoveries that can touch and impact people’s lives. Being able to make a difference and be a part of that difference is very important to me and a huge incentive for doing what I do.

What motivates you, Keaton? 

I want to act as a role model for my sisters, to give them as many opportunities as I had. I have worked hard to achieve what I have, and I want them to be able to experience University and the ability to study whatever makes their heart content.

Doing my PhD and seeking to take my career to the next level is hugely motivated by wanting to make them proud and to be able to give back to the lives of my sisters.

What’s your advice for people starting at University or beginning a career? 

It’s better to take your time and not feel like you must rush into everything. Explore different opportunities; it’s better to give your all to something. I would say don’t restrict yourself and don’t feel like you are limited by your capabilities, striving to achieve more and giving something yours all will pay you back in the long run. My biggest advice would be to just go for it but have a heart for everything you do.

Like many people today, you’re starting a job while working remotely. What would your tip be for people who are working from home?  

Dedicate an entire space, to create a distinction between work life and personal life! Working from home can be distracting at times but having that specific area helps me to focus. When I am in my workspace I focus on work and when I am not, I can relax! I am excited to get further involved in the team.

I am thoroughly enjoying working with every member of the AI team and am learning stacks from Fiona. I look forward to establishing that gap of knowledge for my PhD and to continually improve on my research capabilities and to seek to drive change; creating and instilling purpose in all I do!

Thanks for the lovely chat, Keaton, it was great to hear about your Datactics journey thus far!  We enjoyed deep diving into what makes Keaton tick, and we are excited as he continues working with us over the next number of months and beyond. Welcome to the team Keaton!

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