My decision to work in science
Already in school, I enjoyed writing small-scale seminar papers. And during my (first) studies, the seminar papers and the theses were my most favorite part. I even had the chance to engage in a research project during my studies because one of the courses that I took required the entire class to contribute to the professor’s research project. Although it caused lots of extra work, I enjoyed the research spirit.
Yet, at that time I did not consider working in science as a career path for me. I considered scientists being high-class in ivory towers – and I felt so much down to earth, far away from ivory towers.
So, I started a job in business after my graduation. At the same time, though, I started a doctorate at university, not giving up on my idea that pursuing higher education and engaging in research was great. Pursuing a doctorate externally – i.e., without a position at university – was not an easy task. I would not recommend it to anyone, actually. It took me ages to make progress. At least, I felt that way. Having a fulltime job and pursuing a doctorate that is more than a fulltime job at the same time can’t be an easy job, can it?
And then there was the point in time when I was ready to change jobs. And I felt it was time to come to complete my doctorate, being able to engage with a new topic. This was actually the best motivation for me, getting it done.
Well, and with the doctorate in my pocket, I took the chance to get a job in academia. I said “now or never”. And I got a position. Now, respectively, I consider the idea of “now or never” not ideal: if it is not now, it could be later; it’s never too late, I think.
My scientific background
I have a Diploma degree in International Business Administration. In addition, I have a Master’s degree in Business Informatics. I hold a Doctoral degree in Social and Economic Sciences (with a focus on Business Informatics). In addition, I pursued studies in jazz saxophone. That’s my educational background.
In my research, I always take a human-centered computing point of view, where technology follows humans’ and society’s needs. This requires understanding and advance technology and at the same time it requires understanding humans and their preferences and needs (which are not always overlapping) and at the same time, it requires understanding the impact of technology and humans interacting with technology on a wide scale including society impacts. For my research activities, I draw from my studies and have developed lots of knowledge and understanding in specialized fields on my own – without degrees or certificates.
My current research topic
My research activities center on interactive intelligent systems, where I integrate research on intelligent technologies, the interaction of humans with an intelligent system, as well as their interplay. Recently, I focus on context-aware recommender systems where I concentrate on music recommender systems.
While many ideas and techniques and methods may be similar in various application domains, I chose music because I experience it more fun than applying the same ideas on, for instance, financial products. I love music a lot. And I have a deep understanding of music and the music business. Overall, this is a good foundation to enjoy work.
Woman in science
I encountered situations in my work life, where I think these would have looked different if I were male. For instance, if a tall person approaches you (a female size person), coming too close for comfort, looking down on you and you have to look up to see the face, this is a physically intimidating situation. If this person attacks you from this power-position, it’s hard to feel strong and stand the ground from an intimidating position. Being the same-size would already ease the situation. So, it is actually a tall person versus not so tall person situation; yet, most males are taller than females…
For other issues, I do not know whether they happened because I am a woman or because I engage with the research topics that I engage with (which is not considered “mainstream”) or because I look younger than I am (which is often associated with “not competent”) or because my educational background is not a one-on-one match with my current research topics… yet, it feels unfair in every single case. Trying to counter with super-performance takes lots of energy, is frequently not feasible, and even if you succeed in performing high, it does not necessarily lead to any acknowledgment. And whatever you do, it will not feel fair. That’s my experience. I try to live with it. Yet, I have no advice on how to manage that.
A short “official” bio
I am a Senior Postdoc Researcher at Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria. My research activities center on interactive intelligent systems, where I integrate research on intelligent technologies, the interaction of humans with an intelligent system, as well as their interplay. In my research, I take a human-centered approach, where technology follows humans’ and the society’s needs. Recently, I focus on context-aware recommender systems where I concentrate on music recommender systems.
My research and teaching activities are driven by my interdisciplinary background. I hold a Doctoral degree in Social and Economic Sciences, a Master degree in Business Informatics, and a Diploma degree in International Business Administration. In addition, I pursued studies in jazz saxophone.
I am an experienced teacher in a wide spectrum of topics in computing and information systems, taught across 10 institutions. Furthermore, I engage in mentoring for initiatives such as Women in Music Information Retrieval.
Before joining Johannes Kepler University Linz with my prestigious Elise Richter grant, I had research positions at WU, Austria, University of Cologne, Germany, and the E-Commerce Competence Center, Austria. In 2013 and 2015, I was Visiting Fellow at the Ubicomp Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. To date, I have authored more than 85 papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings, and I hold several best paper awards as well as awards for my reviewing activities.