Zena Hira

Favourite Thing: Coming up with ideas, designing experiments, seeing if it works and repeating. Also drinking huge amounts of coffee. Socializing with other scientists to get the latest updates on what is interesting in technology now



Imperial College London(2012-present), Imperial College London (2009 – 2010), University Of York (2006 – 2009)


BEng Computing, MSc Bioinformatics And theoretical Systems Biology

Work History:

Research Assistant at Imperial College London

Current Job:

PhD Student and Teaching Assistant


Imperial College London, Department Of Computing

Me and my work

I write computer programs to analyse huge quantities of cancer medical data

As a computer scientist, biologists give me data and I try to find meaning in them. I am specializing in machine learning, which is a branch of computer science that teaches computers to learn from the data (we call that “experience“). I tell the computer to find patterns in the data. For example I have recently being working with a dataset of 91 cancer patients with information of 400 000 genes for each patient. I wrote a program able to analyze all these and was able to tell in which cases treatment was going to work. Now the information will be send back to the biologists in order to help find cures for more cancer sufferers.

My Typical Day

I work on a computer in an office writting programs

I get in the office at about 9:30, have coffee and look to see if the machine learning program I have left running over night worked. Then I get more data, write more code and drink more coffee. I also teach and mark assignments for masters and undergraduate students while my programs are running. When I get results I will spend some time writing them up for a journal or my PhD thesis.

What I'd do with the money

I would donate them to websites that teach people programming teaches kids to program. It is a good place for everyone who wants to learn how to do it

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Focused, dedicated, artistic

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Pink Floyd

What's your favourite food?


What is the most fun thing you've done?

I love roller coasters

What did you want to be after you left school?

Rock Star

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Yes, quite frequently

What was your favourite subject at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Discovering a technique to make the computer learn a way to distinguish between different types of cancer

What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

The CERN project and the Human Genome Project

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

Musician or professional tennis player

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

I wanna be a rock star, be a famous scientist, have a house in the woods

Tell us a joke.

Beware of programmers that carry screwdrivers.

Other stuff

Work photos: