As renowned physicist Thomas D. Kuhn articulated many years ago, it is often difficult to separate scientific ideas from the people who entertain them. With this in mind, Nuance’s Engineering Excellence team asked researchers to explain, in their own words, what qualities they think make up a good researcher. Watch the video to hear what they had to say.
As you may have read a few days ago, a scientific paper (on the mass of the Higgs boson) set a new record for having more than 5,000 authors. This made me think about the two sides of Science: on the one hand, science is the evolution of concepts, theories, and ideas, as they come into life, evolve over time and eventually disappear, being replaced by even better, more accurate (or so we hope) theories. This evolution is a research topic of its own (think of Thomas D. Kuhn seminal 1962 book on The Structure of Scientific Revolutions). But as Kuhn already points out, it is hard to separate scientific ideas from the people who entertain them. And that is the other perspective on science: the human beings behind it. Not only the few who pick up a noble price in Stockholm and make it into the history books, but also the many thousands who spend their days helping to make the estimate of the Higgs boson’s mass a little more accurate.
The recent Nuance Research Conference was a good place to observe both sides of Science. On the one hand, I saw how the ideas of Deep Learning and Neural Nets take center stage once more (more on that in future blog posts). On the other hand, I met many of the researchers at Nuance in person, and my colleague, Meredith Mascolo, took advantage of the opportunity to interview a few of them. One question she asked was: “What qualities does a good researcher possess?” In a sense, she got them to talk about themselves, and what it is that makes them get up in the morning. The answers included things like “curiosity,” “being able to ask the right questions,” “not being afraid of an empty page,” and “having a drive for perfection.” See for yourself by watching the video below.
Nils joined Nuance in 2003, after holding various roles for Philips Speech Processing for nearly a decade. Nils oversees the coordination of various research initiatives and activities across many of Nuance’s business units. He also organizes Nuance’s internal research conferences and coordinates Nuance’s ties to Academia and other research partners, most notably IBM.
Nils attended the Universities of Bonn, Koblenz, Duisburg and Hagen, where he earned an M.A. in Communication Research, a Diploma in Computer Science, a Ph.D. in Computational Linguistics, and an M.Sc. in Environmental Sciences.
Nils can speak six languages, including his mother tongue German, and a little Russian and Mandarin. In his spare time, Nils enjoys hiking and hunting in archives for documents that shed some light on the history of science in the early modern period.