Ahmad Iksi, a Master's student from École Centrale de Marseille, France, spends his internship at the Childhood Leukaemia Investigation Prague (CLIP), Second Faculty of Medicine, under supervision of Dr Jan Stuchlý. We asked him what brought him here and what his project was about.
Ahmad, can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I am twenty one years old and I’m working towards a general engineering degree in France, where I was born.
Programming was at first a hobby to me, and most of what I know is self-taught since computer science occupied a very small part of my curriculum until recently, so I’m happy to have the chance to apply what I learned to real-world problems!
Alongside that, I enjoy reading, hiking, and generally spending time with my friends.
Can you briefly present your Master’s project?
The main focus of my internship at CLIP under the supervision of Dr Jan Stuchlý is my work on trajectory inference methods. The idea behind this approach is that during the development or activation of immune cells, their phenotype changes from one state to another along specific trajectories. We are developing with Jan a new trajectory inference framework using the R programming language, and we are looking to improve it using mathematical tools and to benchmark it against existing methods.
How did you begin cooperate with Dr. Jan Stuchlý, what is the common platform between you two?
I started working with Jan in the CIPHE lab in Marseille, in the south of France. We both have a background in mathematics and computer science – although mine is still very shallow! Among other things, we worked on the analysis of large single-cell flow cytometry data, using deep learning and machine learning algorithms.
What differences do you find between the CIPHE lab and the CLIP lab?
CLIP is spread out across multiple floors so I get fewer chances to interact with my colleagues since I am only working at my desk. Apart from that I didn’t feel like there was much of a difference, the people at both CIPHE and CLIP are a pleasure to be around!
How have you enjoyed your stay in Prague? What effect has it caused on your overall growth?
It is the first time that I’m leaving my home country for such a long period of time, five months, so this is my first opportunity to immerse myself in a different culture. So far my stay has been very enjoyable! It’s not easy to step out of my comfort zone, be away from my family and friends, speak English all the time – sorry I still couldn’t wrap my head around the Czech language! – but I think it’s helping me gain more independence.
What would you recommend to other interns or visitors?
If you ever visit Prague, bring good walking shoes! It is very enjoyable to walk across the city, and there are many sights that you will miss if you solely use public transportation to go from one point to another.