Staff profile: Dr. Fatemeh Golpayegani

Fatemeh Golpayegani is a lecturer in the UCD School of Computer Science and is the head of the Multi-agent Systems and Sustainable Solutions research group. Fatemeh recently gave a talk on her research at Soapbox Science Dublin.

Tell us a bit about your path to computer science

I have done my BSc (2010) and MSc (2012) both in Computer Engineering in Iran, and got my PhD degree (2018) from Trinity College Dublin. While I was doing my masters degree, which is a 2 year programme in Iran, I started to work as a software engineer in a research-led company. Working in industry even for that short period of time changed the way I pictured my career path. Before then, I always liked to work in the industry sector and I always liked its fast pace. However, what I came to notice was how little time I had to research and experiment with new ideas and new techniques in such a time constrained environment, and this became a turning point and a reason for me to pursue a PhD degree.

Starting as a PhD student and having 4 years to find some research gaps and answer only a number of very specific research questions in a very specific area was not what I pictured as a PhD student life either. By finishing these four years, I realized that doing a PhD is not just about those specific questions and the answers I provided, and it is more about the training I received on the research process,  the research mindset, and the habit of questioning and looking for innovative solutions based on state-of-the- art techniques when facing a new problem.  After finishing my PhD, I continued as a postdoctoral researcher in the Future Cities research group in Trinity college Dublin for 16 months before joining UCD as a lecturer in Feb 2019. 

Tell us a bit about your research

My research is focused on Artificial Intelligence and particularly Multi-agent systems. In short, Multi-agent systems consist of multiple autonomous entities (i.e., agents), who can perceive their environment, learn and make decisions. Such entities are capable of showing some social behaviour such as cooperation, competition and collaboration. In my research I am mostly interested in designing new algorithms for behavioural modelling of autonomous agents, to facilitate their interactions, cooperation and collaboration in open and distributed systems. Multi-agent systems are very interesting as they can be used to model very complex real-world systems such as traffic management systems.  Traffic management systems are an important aspect of city management and can decrease our carbon footprint if right tools and solutions are employed. Intelligent traffic systems (ITS) incorporate algorithms and technologies to improve the efficiency of traffic and transport systems. In my research, I use Multi-agent systems as the primary tool to model entities in ITS as autonomous agents and implement real-world constraints and test new algorithms to improve their behaviour.    

Why is computer science so important for Intelligent Traffic Systems?

Computer science in general provides us with tools and techniques to solve real-world problems. In my research application, Intelligent Traffic Systems, none of the advancement such as processing the traffic data, understanding the traffic behaviour, and offering real-time alternative routing plans would be possible without the use of computer science.

What do you like most about your job?

As I mentioned earlier, living an academic life is particularly interesting for me as it allows me to explore and research new ideas freely. This is a fantastic opportunity to offer new and innovative solutions to real-world challenges, or re-think and re-evaluate some of the existing solutions to improve their performance, efficiency and efficacy.  Working as an academic is also a great opportunity to network and collaborate with researchers from all around the world and from different disciplines. Last but not least, teaching at university level and having the opportunity to supervise research students make this job a lifelong learning journey, which I really enjoy.