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A day in the life of Dr Tingting Han

I get up whenever my younger son waddles in his pyjamas to wake us up, usually between 6.00 and 6.30am. I feel it such a lucky day if it is past 7.00am. After getting dressed, preparing breakfast and lunchboxes, helping our boys get ready for school, and sometimes being a judge for some squabble, we leave house at 8.30am. After dropping both at school (I alternate this exciting duty with my husband who is also an academic computer scientist), I am on the train and usually in Birkbeck by 9:45am. And my day as a computer scientist starts!

My research investigates uncertainty and probabilities in computer systems, and verifies whether a system satisfies some crucial properties. My daily research activities include reading/writing papers, discussing with my collaborators (sometimes via skype), writing code to implement and improve modeling and verification tools, and using these tools to run experiments and report results.

I teach Big Data Analytics, yes, one of the hottest topics at the moment. It’s an exciting experience as I get to meet many enthusiastic students some of whom have been practicing data-related work for a long time and are eager to explain what they do and how to apply what they are learning to their own domain. I also teach Introduction to Programming, one of the first modules an undergraduate student might take at Birkbeck. This is also very rewarding because it helps many non-IT professionals to start their first skills in programming. I also supervise MSc and BSc student projects. Many of the projects are eye-opening, ranging from secondary property markets auto-trading software to fantasy sports strategy generation to sentiment analysis on tweets to predict stock markets…

If I don’t have teaching on the day, I normally leave the office at around 4:45pm to pick our boys up from after-school club at 5:30pm. If I do have teaching in the evening, it is my husband’s turn. When we arrive home, the boys will usually “help” me with cooking: each standing on a stool beside me and adding the “right” ingredients and sauces to the pot at the “right” time. After dinner, we usually sit down together to do homework, read books, play chess, draw pictures, or sometimes just play some fighting or chasing games to burn the left-over energies from the day.

When I have finally done the long good-night ritual with our boys, I turn off the light and switch on my laptop to do some light-weight or time-pressing jobs on the computer. While doing the former, I will probably turn on the music or start a youtube screen to test my multithread abilities. :-) Sometimes I will also do a workout on our cross-trainer to fresh up or watch the newest episode of Big Bang Theory with my husband before bed.

Every day I feel weary, probably the same feeling any mum would have. But every day I also feel lucky to do the kind of research I love, teach the modules I like and have a complete and happy family. Of course it would be even better if my little ones wake up after 7:30 tomorrow!