Student Feature: Q&A with Akshay Chadha
Akshay Chada is a PhD Candidate in Computer Science at the University of Guelph and president of U of G’s Graduate Students’ Association. His PhD research primarily focuses on pathogenicity classification of viruses using its genetic sequences. Akshay enjoys reading, trekking, exploring trails of conservative parks, and bettering his cooking skills with gluten-free recipes.
What is your dream job?
I have gained industry experience as a backend software developer and product manager at ecommerce and consumer-focused organizations. I received praise for the key features and solutions I developed for certain projects used by millions of customers every day. I have also consulted for artificial intelligence (AI) startup companies so they could grow their user base in a short time span. The increased use of AI in analyzing data in real-time makes me hopeful that I will be working on interesting projects soon.
I am passionate about teaching and research. My dream job would keep me engaged in solving real world problems and developing scalable solutions using technology. Working with genetic sequences of viruses has raised my interest in large- scale computational regulatory genomics. I would love to train graduate research students in academia studying in the field of bioinformatics, epigenomics and machine learning for developing statistical and machine learning methods. The dream workplace environment will enable me to effectively channel my research skills in developing applications for AI- driven technologies. I would ultimately like to work as a professor in academia and/or take a leadership role for AI driven products in industry.
What made you choose the University of Guelph?
I immigrated to Canada in 2016-17. I reached out to professors based on the information available on university websites and I applied at different computer science PhD programs of interest. Fortunately, I got accepted at five leading Canadian universities. The University of Guelph had a reputed engineering department under which the school of computer science looked like an ideal match for performing advanced machine learning research. Moreover, the computational science program was an interesting program with a focus on interdisciplinary research.
What made you want to study Computer Science?
As a kid I was excited to learn about coding and all my undergraduate and graduate programs were focused on computer science. Coding is a skill which I have exceled, and it helped me to develop solutions for communities I work in. Throughout my education in computer science, I developed a special interest in understanding algorithms in more detail and I love explaining them to students. During my master’s degree, I took advanced informatics courses and gained special interest in AI driven technologies.
What has been your campus life experience? Are you a part of any groups or clubs?
The campus community had been incredibly positive and supportive. I joined GSA (Graduate Students Association) and learned a lot more about graduate studies, graduate life and worked towards the needs and concerns of graduate students. I look forward to serving graduate students in my best capacity.
The Guelph campus offers a lot to explore starting from the Cannon, Athletics Centre, library, University Centre, the Lookout, Brass Taps, Arboretum, and different buildings where a lot of engaging events take place all around the year. I have made friends from different departments belonging to diverse communities and backgrounds and it was always interesting to learn more about diverse cultures. I embrace the Canadian values that are truly reflected at our campus, and I am a proud Gryphon for life.
Who is your favorite professor and why?
Throughout my life I have gained a lot of knowledge and wisdom from experienced teachers and professors. I would acknowledge there are six teachers and professors who have contributed a lot in my life. I am grateful, always admired for their knowledge and respected for their values.
At Guelph. I have a great advisory committee consisting of Drs. Rozita Dara, Zvonimir Poljak, David Pearl and Daniel Gillis. My advisory committee has always helped me in their best capacity to approach the quite complex research problem. With their expert advice I have finished most of my work. I hope to finish my program by the end of summer or early in the fall semester.
Dr. Zvonimir Poljak from Population Medicine would be my favorite at Guelph for his knowledge and experience in the field of virology and epidemiology. On my work in linking genotype with phenotype of viruses, and he has provided constructive feedback to advance the research.
Is there anything else about you that you’d like to tell us that we missed?
Being a graduate student, I have learned a lot independently and progressed towards achieving my goals. I am curious and like to explore new things. I practice mindfulness and believe in being kind and compassionate while staying humble. We all will face different challenges in life, never get down, stay positive and keep moving ahead!!!
With the current geopolitical situations and pandemic outbreak, the world is different from what it used to be. Humankind has always conquered such challenging situations by working together. I believe in the principles the principles of Gandhi and based on the current geo-political situation I would like to remind everyone that “An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.”