To begin with: where are you from?
I am from Germany. Before joining AAU in 2012 I was a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics in Saarbrücken (Germany) and studied at Ilmenau University of Technology (Germany).
Why did you apply to be a part of the talent programme?
I applied because the programme allows me to lead a small research group, make considerable advances in my research, and extend my expertise. The programme allows me to investigate interesting problems in the area of Open Data and find solutions for them, which will lay the foundations to advance my career and attract future funding.
What is your research project more specifically about?
Roughly speaking, the main goal of the project is to develop techniques and tools that help make use of the wealth of data available on the Web.
Although many communities and governments, including Denmark, have begun making information available as Open Data on the Web and despite the continuously growing popularity of Open Data, there are still numerous obstacles that prevent people from putting the data to a good use. Apart from finding data relevant to a specific information need, the data for instance comes in various formats (text files, comma separated values, Excel sheets, RDF, XML, HTML, Word documents, etc.) and covers a wide range of topics (government, geographic, media, social networks, linguistics, knowledge bases, life sciences, etc.). Even with documentation, often only experts can currently understand what the data actually means and an entire team is necessary to extract new knowledge by cross-referencing multiple datasets.
This project aims at overcoming these obstacles and develop tools and techniques that will make it easier for a broader range of people to tap into the wealth of the available data. There will be countless options and potential applications; citizens, for instance, can check if the municipality/government is wasting money, journalists researching certain questions can use the developed techniques to find facts supporting claims in their newspaper articles or to confirm their suspicions, etc.
Have you thought about how your project can contribute to bringing knowledge into the world?
The project is based on Open Data and the knowledge hidden within the data available on the Web. Hence, naturally the results (datasets, tools, web-accessible demos) that our work in this project will produce are likewise going to be shared on the Web and are therefore easily accessible to everyone. We of course plan to present our research to experts in the form of scientific publications but we also plan to develop more intuitive interfaces and tools that can be used by a broad range of people, e.g., journalists, citizen data researchers, etc.
How do you plan to spend the money?
Most of the money will be spent on funding scientific personnel, in particular postdocs. Another part will be spent on research leader training courses and networking, e.g., inviting guest researchers to visit our group and funding short visits at other research groups to initiate collaborations and future projects.
What does it mean to you to be accepted into the programme?
The programme will give me the opportunity to start building my own research group at an early stage of my career. I am very happy to be given the chance and looking forward to start working on the proposed project.
What do you hope to achieve with your research project?
The goal is to enable making efficient use of Open Data and letting a broad range of people benefit from the wealth of information that is available on the Web but with today's technology remains mostly unexploited. This includes citizen data researchers as well as journalists and eventually everyone who is interested in exploring the data and finding new information.
Who is your role model within the research world?
I do not have a particular role model. I always strive to achieve the best possible results in whatever I do and try to pick up on the best qualities of the people I meet and work with.
What do you see as the most interesting research result within your field of research?
Within my field of research one of the most groundbreaking developments was the invention of the internet and the standards that define it. This has opened up many new lines of research. My project would not be possible without the internet as a foundation and the possibility it offers for sharing data.